Saturday, January 31, 2004

We have a culture of obnoxiousness.

Exhibit A: T-shirts on middle schoolers. Today’s fashion is to wear a shirt that says (I kid you not), “Stop looking at my shirt and get a life,” “If I throw a stick, will you leave?” and the proliferating “You smell.”

Meanwhile, these kids’ parents are off falling behind their president, who proposes we go to war with random countries he has a beef with. No American war since WWII has created lasting peace or democracy; yet we keep on fighting them, and we keep buying bumper stickers that say “Love it or leave it.”

You think the disastrous bubble of Vietnam would have proved the peaceniks right, but ours is a nation of cowardice; get behind the president and support the troops or you have no business in the global discussion. Already, CBS won’t run a “controversial” ad during the Super Bowl. “Controversial?” It criticizes the Bush budget.

We kill people in numbers exponentially larger than those of other countries (with bloodier pasts), we elect wrestlers and movie stars in hopes of solving fiscal crises, and we buy books with names like “Treason: Liberal Treachery Blahblahblah.” Truly, ours is a nation idolizing raw power. Might makes right is the new rule of global conduct.

Free trade is in. 21st century American economists propose doing away with all boundaries of capitalism, creating a sort of anarchy among states. Like any anarchy, power tends to flow to the top, to the skyscrapers where the Ken Lays and Michael Eisners of the world contemplate how to justify enslaving third world children. Radio hacks dismiss third world labor as beneath American consideration, and economists assure us that whoever has the most money earned it.

Ours is a nation dissolving into anarchy, a nation that abuses its power and tells people to be wary of those purchasing almanacs and other suspicious literature. A nation in which “enemy combatants” can be locked up at will without trial, and all of Congress bends over and takes it, for fear of losing their jobs to the rabid “Support-the-troops” legion (never mind that the President hardly supports the troops). A nation where fear reigns, logic is ignored in favor of military action, and what’s on CNN more important to us than the future of the free world. In crisis, our President tells us to go to Disneyland and spend, spend, spend. Close your mind. Let the fear surround you. In the bubble of American capitalism, you will be free.

That is, until the landlord comes to repossess your home, because you just got fired from your shitty nine-to-five job because illegal Mexican immigrants are cheaper and can now be legally enslaved, leaving you with nothing to do but smoke pot and watch Wheel of Fortune until you die...

Oh, but back to the culture of obnoxiousness thing. America is famous for its brazen rudeness and lack of consideration for others (on a personal and national scale), and that’s reflected in every facet in its culture. I saw a girl at my Winter Formal wearing a shirt that said “I promise to be nice and to share.” I wanted to kiss that girl, besides for the usual reasons. It’s like a shining beacon of hope when politeness is seen as fashionable.

I’m going to write a book on all this, I think. I’ll call it “Knee-Jerk Country...”

Oh, but the point I was trying to get to, but failed, was that such false courage as pounding drumbs for war is really just the flip side of cowardice. It's easy to make a fist, it takes sacrifice to make peace.
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