Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Everything Is A*-OK
* "A" for America!

On OkCupid, gearheadanonymous reposts a chain letter that advises people to use their copies of the New York Times and Newsweek as bird litter in response to a "recent poll" that reports that most people are unhappy with the President and the direction of the country. It cites numerous facts about which we should be grateful, such as the relatively low unemployment rate, the fact that you can drive from coast-to-coast without having to present papers and the fact that if your house catches on fire, a band of professionals will rush to your aid to extinguish the flames, free of charge!

What follows is my commentary on this person's journal, with some minor edits for grammar and clarity,

Comment #1, May 16th 2007

Give me a break.

The supposed poll asks about the job the President is doing specifically, and the future direction of the country, and most of what is listed there is completely irrelevant in that context, as many of these facts were true before Bush took office, and will continue to be true for a while to come -- at least until we start to pay the price for some of our more ill-advised, short-sighted policies.

"With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, "Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?" --original post

Now would be a great time to take God out of the pledge. God evidently isn't stopping all of those natural disasters from occurring in what is one of the most Christian nations on the planet.

We don't have God to thank about all of the great things we love about the country, we have people to thank. People, many of whom were secularists or only mildly religious (Thomas Jefferson, John Hamilton, Thomas Paine) founded the United States of America, not to worship God, but to practice freedom, democracy and fair government. People have worked to build up and maintain the nation (as have been responsible for allowing it to regress at times), not God. Attributing the greatness of America to God sells short the accomplishments of those who actually worked and bled to create the reality we now all enjoy (or sometimes, lament).

If we are going to have a chance of treating, or perhaps preventing a bird flu outbreak, it is going to be science, not prayers, that give us the answers -- just as the science of meteorology has saved lives in allowing us some forewarning of hurricanes, just as science and technology has been employed to contain fires such as the ones that have been ravaging my state, etc.

Now is not the time for blind faith or blind loyalty. This President has engaged in a relentless assault on our freedoms (have you ever heard of habeas corpus?) since taking office and has squandered thousands of American lives and many billions of taxpayer dollars on a totally unethical unilateral war of aggression, has proven himself an enemy to science, has no sense of fiscal restraint except when it comes to little things like effective social programs, education funding, and the list could go on.

Yes, there is a lot to be dissatisfied with.

My next comment was made in response to a user by the name of atomicturtle, who expressed the following sentiment: "Good thing for America, we don't really care about 'most places' worthless and meaningless opinion of us. That's right rest of the world. On behalf of America: Blow it out your ass. Don't like us? Kindly fuck off."

Comment #2, May 16th, 2007

Well, it makes sense to care what the rest of the world thinks of us, not because we want to win some sort of popularity contest but because we have to coexist somehow with the rest of the world. What a nation as powerful as the U.S. does has a significant ripple effort on the rest of the world. They should care about what we do, and we should care about what they think of us not just because it is practical for us to do so (because it influences how the rest of the world interacts with us) also because it's simply a small-minded and dangerous mode of thought to pretend as if the rest of the world just doesn't matter, that America is America, that we come first and we can do whatever the fuck we want.

Also, how the rest of the world thinks of you may be a decent barometer for determining how we should think of ourselves -- by trying to obtain some measure of balancing or objective criticism of our actions and policies. Living in the U.S., most people get most of their information about the U.S. policy (and its ramifications) from corporately owned and controlled sources based in the U.S. This list (in the original post) here rants on about the evils of the pessimistic liberal media -- going so far as to recommend that you just throw out all of those newspapers and news magazines, and I suppose by extension, in your opinion, we shouldn't be reading what the BBC, Al Jazeera or otherwise seek to obtain an external, international perspective either, eh? Everything is alright, just sit back and enjoy what freedoms you possess, enjoy your nation's abundant wealth and affluence. It's just this sort of ignorance-encouraging, piggish attitude that I imagine foreigners find so disgusting about the U.S. -- I like to think that it's their perspective of us is just an unfair, exaggerated stereotype, but reading this kind of stuff makes it a little more difficult to believe that is the case.

In a way, it's the fact that we are so comfortable is what upsets me. We've been at war for over five years straight now, and there's been no draft, no tax hikes (instead, we've had tax cuts), no rationing ... unless you're in the military or have a close friend or family member in the military, you haven't really had to suffer any direct consequences of our war making, for example. We have been cowed by our materialistic, creature comforts into not really giving a shit about the ethics or long term consequences of our actions half a world away. We're mortgaging our future and behaving in a manner that is simply vile. You can bet that if we were being asked to make real sacrifices today for our policies and war-mongering today, a lot more people would be asking questions about just what the hell it is we're trying to accomplish, and whether what we're doing is the right thing.

1 comment:

Satin said...

Well written article.