Sunday, January 25, 2009

Being American means never having to say you’re sorry and … what was the other thing?

Joe Bageant, watching the presidential inauguration in Belize along with the local Garifunas, Mestizos, and Creoles, shares his thoughts about Obama’s speech.
Despite the comparisons to Martin Luther King, who never delivered a hypocritical speech or sermon in his life, Obama had his hypocritical moments. Such as, "We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in its defense.” That can be construed at least a couple of ways: It could mean that, “As six percent of the planet’s population we will continue to use more than a quarter of the world’s resources to consume needless techno-junk and pay for Madonna’s liposuction.” Or that, “As a nation, we will continue to grow stupider, more provincial and more oblivious as a people, simply because we have the firepower to do so. Expect no apologies.”
I prefer the latter interpretation. Now stupid, provincial, and oblivious wouldn’t necessarily be bad -- alone or in combination -- if only these traits actually made us a happy people. Clearly they don’t. Americans are never happy. We are in a permanent state of defensively offensive preemption against… what? Everything, apparently. We are armed to our over-bleached teeth, we ingest demon-shrinking pills by the millions, we wash them down with enormous quantities of booze, and, if we’re still conscious, we turn on the TeeVee to finish ourselves off with artery-clogging junk food and soul-killing pop culture.
Actually, when it comes to American apologies, certainly the Iraqi people are at the top of a very long list. But nations are essentially armed turf gangs and the most heavily armed -- America at the moment -- is no more likely to apologize to anyone than the LA Crips are for the latest drive-by shoot-up of a Blood Tupperware party.
That’s the only cheery thought for some Americans these days. We’re still the Crips, and we may still have a few more Blood Tupperware parties to visit.

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