Archive for September 10th, 2007

September 10, 2007

AMERICA – THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

As I sit here on the eve of the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the US I have been pondering what mixed feelings i have about the place. Growing up in Ireland, Trinidad and Canada it fascinated me probably because of Hollywood. I never enjoyed any American books as a young person and only discovered late in my teens that there were actually American writers. Speaking of which..how did they manage to co-opt the word “American”? Many of us live in countries in the Americas but only 300 million get to use the name? I eventually did American studies in Grade 13 and University ( elective) and quite enjoyed it. The wonderful thing about that country is the way it manages to invent its own historical narrative. The US was not founded on principles of freedom and democracy unless you happened to be white, male and middle class or above. Abe was not always honest. They did not win the 1812 war. And the great Western expansion was not great if you were a tribal native or Mexican.


So what is beautiful about America then? I submit to you my incomplete top-of-my-mind list:

  1. Jazz, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Gore Vidal, Harper’s Monthly, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, PBS, Bill Clinton, J.F.K., Allen Ginsberg, Apple (Computer), Martin Luther King, Negro Spirituals, Savannah ( Georgia), the Chrysler Building, T. Alva Edison ( except for the DC current part), Gershwin, Woody Allen, Kodak, Crane paper, Parker pens ( now owned by the French), Random House ( for keeping me employed ..though they are now owned by Germans), Amazon.com, Anthony Bourdain,  Diet Coke, Hollywood ( mixed blessing I realize), Anderson Cooper,the National Hurricane Center,  the 1941 Packard One-Eighty Formal Sedan, the Panama Canal, Andy Warhol who invented the concept of Paris Hilton and finally, F.D.R. – the first world leader who understood economics.


Now to the bad. A quick list because I don’t have enough time or available conscious state to make a complete list:

  1. Fast food, George W. Bush, destroying the english language, 3 decades of ugly cars, Microsoft, Hemingway, attempting to impose its will on the world, Vietnam, Iraq, a population who voted for Dubya twice, Ronald Reagan, Harding, bad television and especially bad reality TV, Rachel Ray, wasting more resources than any country on earth, prettifying their history, hoggish airport personnel, Mormons and finally, thinking they run the world.


But what ultimately annoys the world about the US more than anything else? It is their supreme arrogance and reliance on force and economic power above reason. As Sept. 11th looms, I think we can agree it was a horrible and deviously constructed tragedy. No people deserve to lose their lives in a horrific event based on a crazy person’s world view.It was a terrible day. Did it lead the US to analyze its foreign policy or even to a circumspect moment? Hell no! As they say…a bunch of Saudis bombed the US…so naturally Dubya…based on his family history…invaded Iraq… And that is the problem.

 

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