In no particular order:
In the name of “freedom of speech,” we publish and republish cartoons that gratuitously debase a faith-based belief of 1.1 billion people of peace and good will – then profess shock that the few (but growing numbers of) militants among them exploit those acts for violent purposes. (Okay, hypothetical question: You run into a Baptist church during worship; mount the pulpit; shout, “Fuck you, Jesus!” and escape. Six months later you return and do the same thing. Would it shock anyone if someone in the congregation rose up and beat the living shit out of you? Does anyone remember Ollie Holmes’ injunction against shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater?) “Boy, we showed them – indulged a pointless attempt to draw attention to our little rag and only a few dozen people died or were wounded. Fed the perception that Westerners are insensitive, exploitive louts. Oh, well; hope the Danish economy doesn’t suffer and nobody gets kidnapped…”
We libel an entire faith-based belief system by slapping the label “Islamist” on every deranged extremist of Middle Eastern origin. Question: Was Timothy McVeigh a “Christian” terrorist?
For a reported $20 million per year, Bill O’Reilly does, with less dignity and restraint, what the late Joseph McCarthy did on a civil servant’s salary—and he was loaded most of the time.
By all outward appearances, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, and Britney Spears are the very best we have to offer—both as serious artists and flowers of young womanhood.
We invent weird sports that reflect our violent and territorial nature and solemnly crown ourselves “World Champions” without leaving the country. (Oh—and our “champions” find excuses not to represent us in the Olympic Games because they might get their asses kicked by foreigners who’ve learned and play the sport as a team, rather than as overindulged individuals.)
We profess to be a peaceful people but:
- Have enough weapons in private circulation to arm everyone over 14.
- Lust after knock-offs of military vehicles for personal transportation.
We have the cleanest, most plentiful water supply on the planet, but spend over $12 billion a year on bottled water—an industry the profitability and growth of which is threatening rural water supplies. (And then there’s car-washing; hot tubbing; lawn-watering; and swimming…) Oh: we threaten civil disruption if gasoline creeps toward $3 a gallon but gladly pay $8 a gallon for a fluid that’s free, in the nearest kitchen or bathroom. (Too delicate for treated tap water? Buy a filter, pinhead!)
With friendly (almost submissive) neighbors at our Northern and Southern borders and vast oceans at our flanks, we have never suffered an armed invasion from a conventional power—but scarcely hesitate to strike at perceived threats to our security half a world away.
Unsatisfied with or simply bored with the genuine article, we have found it necessary to reinvent “reality” for television.
Our media measure overpaid athletes by their character as though it matters, not their skills or achievements, and ignore it in political candidates, treating election campaigns as “contests.”
We decry bodily alterations in other cultures as “mutilation,” but breast augmentation surgeries alone have increased 476% in the U.S. since 1992, now exceeding one million procedures per
We are the only “first world” society on Earth that has needy, disabled, and mentally-ill citizens sleeping on the streets.
We are responsible for about a quarter of all measurable pollution but refuse to sign any international agreement to reduce or stop it.
We give the smallest proportion of our Gross National Product of any leading power to foreign aid—17th among first-world sovereigns—and complain bitterly that it’s too much.
- Refuse to pay a penny in taxes for public campaign financing;
- Are indifferent to electoral reform or reasonable restrictions on campaigning; and
- Are seduced by billions of dollars of paid political advertising—which go entirely to corporate media and political consultants;
Nonetheless, we cluck about corruption in politics.
Fewer of our citizens vote regularly than in any other organized republic or democracy.
We mock immigrants and visitors who speak imperfect English, when it’s the only language we speak—and somewhat imperfectly, at that.
Fox News regularly accuses Al Jazeera of bias.
We lead developed nations that make up 20% of the world’s population but consume two-thirds of all resources and generate 75% of the world’s pollution and waste. Last decade, one U.S. citizen consumed 30 times what one citizen of India did.
Our foreign policy manifests the idea that the blessings of liberty are better delivered at the point of a gun than in an open hand.
We insist that our females risk orthopedic injury daily by wearing overpriced, uncomfortable footwear, the sole purpose of which is to feed a pointless male fantasy. (Explain to me why otherwise stark-naked women in porn films are wearing those stingy, strappy four-inch heels.)
We still say, “Eye-rack” and “Eye-ran.” (Hell, too many of us still say, “Eye-talian.”)
We taunt as backward the region in our country that has the strongest literary tradition, still prizes civility and conversation as cultural values, and is more racially integrated than any other.
We have produced 70,000 nuclear warheads since 1945, yet invaded another country in pursuit of non-nuclear “weapons of mass destruction” that impartial observers (and our own intelligence agencies) warned us did not exist.
We are a nation of immigrants that wants to close our borders and deny every blessing to anyone of good will who wants in or is already here—unless, of course, they’re willing to pick our crops, blow our leaves, or wipe our infants’ asses, at a wage so low they’ll have to take more illegal, low-paying jobs to stay.
Next week: More “whys.”