by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash
Why is America such a mess?
I would blame three things: Disney, Forest Gump and Fox News.
What did Disney do? He made sentimentality a good and virtuous thing.
What did Forest Gump do? That movie, which won the Oscar for best picture, made stupidity a good and virtuous thing.
What did Fox News do? They made craziness good and virtuous.
Take Disney first.
Before Disney, fairy tales were cruel and filled with horror. After all, in the real Cinderella story, the stepsisters actually hacked at their feet, cut them smaller, blood flowing, so they could fit their feet into Cinderella's shoe.
After Disney, fairy tales became cloyingly sweet and sentimental. And this sentimentality towards fairy tales spilled over into everything. We even get sentimental about our troops, for example.
What do our troops do? They kill people. They are trained to kill people. They are trained murderers. But our politicians, whenever they want to appear patriotic, put their hands on their hearts and blab on about what heroes our troops are.
Heroes? Guys who go to foreign lands to kill people? Guys who, because Bush and Cheney told them, went to Iraq and murdered over half-a-million Iraqis, many of them women and children, for no good reason at all? Just because our President ordered them to do so? These are heroes? Give me a break. They are deluded mass murderers — virtuous pawns deluded by our terrible leaders.
This is the sort of sentimentality that leads folks to get so patriotic about America that they call us the exceptional nation.
Exceptional for what?
For how we raise cattle and pigs and chickens in stalls that fit so tight, these animals cannot move, and live and die in their own crap? This massive animal cruelty is exceptional, all right, but not in the way these patriots think.
Exceptional for the fact that with 5% of the world's population, we have 25% of the world's prisoners in our jails, more than Russia had under communism or South Africa under apartheid?
Exceptional for the Walton family, the richest family on earth, who don't pay their Walmart employees enough to live on, so these folks have to apply for foodstamps to survive?
Sure, we're exceptional, but not for the sentimental reasons that America's super patriots blabber and jabber about.
Now for our stupidity, which in the movie Forest Gump is valorized as a good and noble thing.
I have a friend who thinks that this movie made possible the election of George W. Bush. It made it possible for us to vote for that idiot. Retarded is good. Fools are holy. If you're so regular you're subnormal in intelligence, you're a true American, something of a hero, like Forest Gump. Which is why we get and tolerate so many dumb politicians, who say and think so many dumb things. The entire Republican Party is a collection of Forest Gumps.
Finally, Fox News. It's because of Fox News that Donald Trump can say the craziest things ever, and end up rising to the top of the polls as the GOP's presidential contender.
A New York Times reader came up with this great comment about The Donald:
“Donald Trump is the entire GOP after five drinks.”
That says it all.
Not that I think Donald Trump got it all that wrong when he said John McCain is only a war hero because he got captured and the Donald prefers soldiers who don't get captured.
Another New Times reader commented on McCain's war hero status:
“McCain was a pathetic pilot, was repeatedly written up for being an undisciplined hot dogger and a drunk, and crashed SEVERAL very expensive fighter planes due to his poor flying skills. Being shot down was the best thing that ever happened to him, career wise — instead of being thrown out of the Navy, which was pending, he was suddenly an American Hero being held by the Viet Cong. We badly needed heroes in that totally indefensible war, and along came John.
“His fellow POWs despised him, but they were all hushed up because the hero had to preserve his shine.
“Then move on to discuss the insanely stupid act of selecting the Alaska Hillbilly as his running mate without ever meeting her.”
But heck, McCain suffered terrible torture in captivity, which actually does make him a hero, no two ways about it. Certainly this was the only time the other GOP candidates thought it safe to attack Trump (conveniently forgetting the GOP's Swift-boating of John Kerry's war hero status). They did not attack Trump for saying Mexicans are rapists, but they sprang to the defense of McCain. A controversy reeking with sentimentality, stupidity and craziness.
Disney, Forest Gump and Fox News: blame them for the mess America has made of itself.
Sentimentality makes us think we're wonderful and exceptional and the greatest country on earth, when we're just like any other country, and nowhere near as excellent as Sweden, Norway or Denmark (not only the best welfare states with the highest taxes, but also the most economically competitive nations on earth, with Ikea, Lego, Spotify, Linux, self-driving Volvos in 2017, Skype, videogame hits Angry Birds and Mineshaft, and Nordic noir: the perfect blend of socialism and capitalism).
Stupidity makes us tolerate the Republican Party and put their governors in charge of states like Kansas, where the stupidity of Governor Sam Brownback in doing the GOP let's-cut-taxes dance, supposed to be a smart economic stimulus (a la the discredited Laffer curve), instead plunged the state into terrible debt, and led Standard & Poor to declare the Kansas budget “structurally unbalanced” — an experiment in GOP governance which proves how stupidly the GOP's let's-cut-taxes economics works in the real world.
And stupidity makes the Donald Trump candidacy relevant. Comments another NY Times reader:
“There's an irony in the fact that I've read a dozen columns about the irrelevance of Donald Trump's candidacy. These columns would be unnecessary if there was any hope that the American public could tell one end of a horse from the other, but that hope fades when we add up all of the Obama haters, the conspiracy theorists, the anti-immigration zealots, and racists, homophobes, misogynists, fundamentalists and other low- or no-information voters of every stripe. Individually, they're laughable, or sad. As a group, they may well elect the next president. The danger is especially great when the Democratic front-runner has flaws that put off her base and energize the opposition.
“And even if Trump is rejected in a national election, should we breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that there are Huckabees and Cruzes and, for God's sake, Jindals out there waiting for their turn? At least Trump provides a bit of comic relief. There's nothing funny about the rest of the Republican lineup.
“The fault is not in our TV stars, but in ourselves. We've reached a point where we can't trust the American public to elect a sensible, or even a sane president. If we need columnists to point out that Trump is a disaster we've already struck the iceberg. It's just a matter of time before we sink into irrelevance as a country.”
And craziness is why our national discourse is so out-of-whack. Why we won't do anything significant about our biggest problems, like climate change, income inequality, or our infrastructure, with bridges falling down all over the place.
Disney, Forest Gump and Fox News: they made us too sentimental, stupid and crazy to fix what we should, because we've been de-cultured out of being what we should really strive for:
To be objective, smart and sane.
But heck, if Elizabeth Warren becomes the next president after President Hillary Clinton, maybe we'll get there.