Sunday, March 25, 2012

Welcome To The Jungle

That would be here, now, the USA, a nation so beloved by God it’s gone from the pinnacle of world power to the nadir of banana republic style corruption in one generation. You could safely describe the speed of our decline as vertiginous. How long was Rome around? From about 750 BC or thereabouts until, if you count they Byzantines, 1453. That’s impressive. We’ve been around a mere two hundred years and we think we’re the slickest thing since the invention of the wheel, or at least the thermos (it keeps your hot drinks hot and your cold drinks cold. How does it know?)

I believe Aristotle said a man is what he repeatedly does. Well, what do we repeatedly do? We bomb, we kill, we torture. In fairness, we don’t really have any say so in that. Those decisions are made for us. We all must watch in excruciating helplessness as the country lurches from one military disaster to another. Next up, Iran — a catastrophe in the making and there isn’t a damn thing the citizens of the greatest democracy on the planet can do about it.

But where do we have control? Over our own conduct. And what’s that like? Here’s a visual: a fat man in baggy shorts and a football jersey camped outside of Walmart so he can be the first to buy a new iPod, and who supported the invasion of Iraq because “its better to fight the terrorists over there than over here.” The kind of guy who laughs at those irritating commercials with the talking baby who makes snarky investment advice. He drives a gas guzzling monstrosity, like a Ford F-150, and voted for Bush because he seemed like a nice guy to have a beer with. You know who I’m talking about. Bovine Joe Average: a well-intentioned ignoramus with an instinctive Republican bent, who mindlessly supports the troops and usually favors tax cuts for the wealthy because he doesn’t believe achievement should be punished. He sees no point in traveling abroad because “there’s plenty to see right here in America.”

All of this occurs in a country that practices torture. Say that out loud: we are fat people who play with useless gadgets in a country that practises torture. I’m not okay with that.

I’m certain posterity will condemn us, harshly (assuming we don’t cook the planet or blow ourselves up).

So what prompted this intemperate outburst? A story that genuinely disturbs me. It’s nice to think of ourselves as slightly more evolved than this, but there you go. We still belong in the jungle:

Shaima Alawadi, an Iraqi woman living in Southern California who was found severely beaten next to a threatening note saying “go back to your country,” died on Saturday. […] The daughter, Fatima Al Himidi, told KUSI-TV her mother had been beaten on the head repeatedly with a tire iron, and that the note said “go back to your country, you terrorist.”

Addressing the camera, the tearful daughter asked: “You took my mother away from me. You took my best friend away from me. Why? Why did you do it?”

This story breaks my heart. Why did you take my mother away from me? Because, my dear, we are a nation of violent rednecks, and we have a long, fetid history of blaming brown people like you and your mother for our problems.

No comments: