What's going on, America?

Please note, I did not write this - quoted from elsewhere. There is so much in this writing with which I can personally identify, it's scary.

"I grew up in a family of moderate Republicans- more George HW Bushes than George W Bushes, you know? This exposed me, as a child, to ridiculous nonsense, much of which can be seen in the political email forwards section of Snopes. My folks weren't right-wing extremists by any stretch of the imagination, but they did participate quite merrily in the right-wing psychosis about Bill Clinton despite agreeing with him on more things than they disagreed with him on. This meant I got to hear about, among other things, the Death Camps.

It was an article of faith in the militia movement of the 1990's that the Clinton Administration was working to establish what were, depending on who you listened to, either internment camps or death camps for white Christians. Never mind that the sites they cited (heh) always turned out to be abandoned and disused trainyards, or actual campgrounds, or completely nonexistent, goddammit they existed, had been built since Clinton took office, and were ready to begin operation when the time was right for martial law. This was the kind of shit I spent the 90's listening to around the dinner table.

I told you about my parents as a way of explaining how I was familiar with that sort of thing , and I told you about that to explain why I spent a good portion of the last administration trying to convince fellow leftists that the Bush Death Camps they were convinced were being set up to imprison or kill dissenters with BUSHITLER took over AMERIKKKA were simply inane rumours created by people who would've had said leftists publicly executed if they had their way. It's a batshit crazy rumour started amidst the people who were driven out of their fucking minds when they didn't get their way and a Democrat was elected to the office of the Presidency.

One of the first things I predicted when Obama won was that the militia movement would appear like a phoenix out of the ashes, and I based that on the fact that the militia movement vanished overnight on January 20, 2001. Sure enough, the very day after election day, ammunition and gun sales spiked hard and have continued to be strong, and the militias are back right on schedule. And this time it's pretty much exactly like it was last time, only this time the crazies aren't just affiliated with the fringes of the conservative mainstream, they are the conservative mainstream.

This is going to get a fuck of a lot uglier before it gets any better. If it gets any better."

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Comment by ProsePetals on August 15, 2009 at 11:05pm
Interesting question - and a lot of complex (convoluted) answers...and I don't know that any one of the answers gives a complete picture, but I will try. The two components you mention:

1. Education. Oh boy, the only place I can speak from is my own experience - and I noted this elsewhere earlier today. Part of the problem with education here is the manner in which history is taught (strictly my personal opinion). Our history lessons are accurate in some respects - more really? Jingoistic (damn near xenophobic) propaganda. And it starts young, as with any indoctrination technique - so by the time we reach the high school age, we have a very distorted world view. I don't know how applicable my experience is to the current generation (even though I have a 17-yr old son, but I'll return to that). For me, as much as I disagree with my dad on a LOT of matters, I'm very grateful for his love of world history, and his admonitions to me to actually research. When I was a teenager, I didn't give a flying fig about history or politics - that interest came later, and my dad's words came back. For my 17 yr old (and my 2 other children), I press them to question everything. Challenge everything- even me. My job is to teach them how to think, not what to think. Critical thinking is another area that wasn't even touched when I was in primary school. *sigh*

2. Religion. Another area that is difficult to broach objectively, because I grew up in an evangelical household. I love my parents dearly, no mistake, but growing up in a church like that was pretty surreal - and the circular logic of reading the bible everyday, and if you have questions refer back to the scriptures to make sense of the scriptures - and my church was typical of the "Jesus Camp" ilk without the terroristic implications. There has been a huge surge of a new brand of these particular churches popping up ALL over the place - and they are, quite literally, declaring that the U.S. is in a state of war. What's scarier is that they're willing to resort to violence for their causes. Which leads us to a couple of other areas that are tied in obliquely...

3. Individualist mindset versus collective mindset. The U.S. is quite individualistic and has no true internalized comprehension (as a collective, ironically enough) about just how different other countries operate because of the fundamental differences between individualized ideals and collective ideals (hence all the "socialist" b.s. being thrown around lately - pure McCarthyistic horse manure, frankly).

4. And this is a big one...gender disparity, sexuality, moral policing, and the like. There is a very bizarre dichotomy here between a kind of archaic puritanism (from religion) that has many people repressed (mainly women) - coupled with Hollywood sparkling sexuality and pornography in abundance to feed the hunger that people have naturally for something as basic as sex - and then don't seem to realize that at our core, we're simply members of the animal kingdom and sex is a part of us...

There are many more components to this, and even if I were to name a dozen more, we'd barely be scratching the surface. No mistake here -I like being American, and I'm in no way ashamed of being American...but there are some things that make me ashamed of the behaviors of many of my fellow countrymen and women - particularly those of the Faux News ilk who froth at the mouth about how we're the "Best" in everything without ever defining any kind of standard of good.

That's just for starters.

Comment by Chrys Stevenson on August 15, 2009 at 10:32pm
No-one thinks all Americans are idiots - we are just dismayed at the level of idiocy that exists in America. We have our own idiots in Oz, of course, by somehow they don't seem anywhere near as idiotic as the American variety. I wonder why that is? The education system, religion?
Comment by ProsePetals on August 15, 2009 at 10:07pm
Not all of us. ;)
Comment by Jay on August 15, 2009 at 9:59pm
It's been the propaganda. Daaaamn, Americans are idiots. i mean, you can find idiots everywhere, but damn there are a lot in the USA.
Comment by Chrys Stevenson on August 15, 2009 at 8:21pm
This from a UK satirical newspaper, The Daily Mash:

FAT, stupid Americans with no health insurance have attacked plans to stop them dying so easily.

'Git your free healthcare givin' ass offa ma property'

Across the United States poor people who are told what to think by television said President Obama's plan to give them free healthcare could lead to them being treated in a hospital that was not run by the Chicago Mafia.

Bill McKay, a retired shitkicker and Fox News analyst, from Kentucky, said: "I would rather replace my own hip using a rusty spoon than wait two months to have it done in a communist hospital, by some coffee-coloured faggot doctor who will then eat my unborn child to celebrate the end of Ramadan."

Barbara Hayes, a God-fearer, from Arkansas, added: "Ah see'd some woman from England on the Fox News sayin' her muslim communist doctor would only give her the good medicines if she denounced Jesus. Ah ain't denouncin' Jesus fir nobody, no siree."

But Dr Tom Logan, head of public health at the Institute for Studies, said: "The key difference between the United States and Britain is that we treat poor people rather than leaving them to die in a skip.

"It may take a few weeks or even months, and not everyone is happy about that, but we do at least all agree that it is marginally better than the skip."

More here ....
Comment by Nate on August 15, 2009 at 8:02pm
It is sad. But not at all surprising.
Comment by Jay on August 15, 2009 at 7:59pm
The sad thing is that recent polls are indicating an increasing disapproval of a public option....ugh, damn these scare tactics. They prevent Americans from making an informed decision.
Comment by Nate on August 15, 2009 at 7:46pm
It is astonishing to those of us who do not live in America, the extent to which your countrymen fear and mistrust their own government.

Kristy, those of us that do live in America don't get it either. We know that a lot of the racist Christian fundamentalist types railing against healthcare reform and anything else that Obama proposes are some of the biggest beneficiaries of public programs.

They're being duped.

I think this article(excerpt) says it best:

Inside Story on Town Hall Riots: Right-Wing Shock Troops Do Corporate America's Dirty Work
By Adele M. Stan, AlterNet. Posted August 10, 2009.

How the health-care industry, the GOP and one media mogul made common cause with the anti-government fringe.
The recent spate of town hall dustups may look like an overnight sensation, but they've been years, even decades, in the making.

Since the days in the late 1970s, when the New Right began its takeover of the Republican Party, it has cultivated a militia of white people armed with a grudge against those who brought forth the social changes of the '60s.

These malcontents have been promised their day of retribution, a day for which they are more than ready. Few seem to understand that they are merely dupes for a corporate agenda that will only worsen the conditions in which they live.

Why, you may ask, would men of power and fame shake the rough, unmanicured hands of gun enthusiasts, conspiracy theorists, gay-haters, misogynists and racists?

Because somebody's got to do the dirty work. Magnates don't like to soil their French cuffs, and it's hard for a bunch of rich guys to garner sympathy for threats to their bottom lines. It's the classic inside-outside game that the right wing of the GOP has played for the last two decades.

Comment by Chrys Stevenson on August 15, 2009 at 7:33pm
It is astonishing to those of us who do not live in America, the extent to which your countrymen fear and mistrust their own government. It seems completely at odds with the hyper-nationalism and patriotism which co-exists with this feeling that 'the government is out to get us'.

Even your movies inevitably show the government as the bad guys.

We have fairly recently changed governments from a right wing conservative party leadership to a liberal centre-left party. There are many of course who don't like one party or the other, but I don't think there were many other than outright nutters who really thought at any time that the government, generally, was malevolent. Sure there have been lies, bad behaviour, self-serving behaviour etc. But I've never, ever heard an Australian say that they think they need a gun to protect themselves from a government policy or that the government is plotting to do them real physical harm.
Comment by Johnsky on August 15, 2009 at 7:05pm

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