07 Feb 2008

Hating America and Ordinary Americans

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Provoked by snarky responses to a six-word-motto-for-America contest at the NYT’s Freakonomics blog, James Lileks gets a little testy about the characteristic reflex attitudes of the American elect.

Someone somewhere is a practicing Baptist and someone somewhere else is eating a hamburger larger than you’d prefer, and other people are watching cars go around a track at high speed. As your skinny unhappy friend said the other night: people are just too fat and happy. He bites his nails and plays WoW six hours a night, but he has a point. It doesn’t matter that these fascists-in-fetal-form never quite seem to accomplish anything; it’s not like they drove the gay Teletubbies off the air or had Tony Kushner drawn and quartered in the public square. But they’re preventing something. Something wonderful. And they’re driving large cars to Wal-Mart and putting 18-roll packs of Charmin in the back and they have three kids. Earth has withstood a lot in its four billion years, but it cannot withstand them. And even if it does, who wants to live in a world where these people don’t care that they’re being mocked by small, underfunded theaters in honest, gritty neighborhoods? (Which are being gentrified by upwardly-mobile poseurs who have decided it’s a great place to live because the theater is good and the restaurants are cheap. F*#*$ing interlopers. But we’ll deal with them later.)

ANYWAY. Bottom line: we will never be a great nation until we all realize how much we suck, and then we will also realize it is wrong to be a great nation. For that matter, nationhood are overrated. (The only nation that gets to be a nation is France.)

Nations are bad enough, but we’re something else:the only nation that has ever fought a war, acted in self-interest, had a good opinion of itself, permitted slavery, elected leaders who lacked a certain Olympian quality, had a popular culture that included simple catchy melodies and bright pictures, harbored racist attitudes, had a strong religious element, and contained a sizable amount of stupid people.

(Side note: the existence of stupid people in America is a touchy subject, and not easily explained away. It would seem to suggest that some people are smarter than other people, which could conceivably have an impact on their ability to succeed – but there are so many stupid people living in comfort that this almost implies that the bounty and opportunity of the country are sufficient to lift the leakiest dinghies if the occupants bail and plug, and that can’t be true. It is also unacceptable to suggest that some people do not succeed because they aren’t smart, since that suggests that merit is rewarded, and that can’t be true. Merit has nothing to do with America; it’s all about white male privilege. Do not be fooled by the rise of Hillary and Obama; put them together, and what do you have? White. Male.)

Anyway, America sucks except for a few parts of some cities if you ignore the Starbucks, and people in other countries are basically okay but no one in America knows it because they don’t have passports, and Dubya wants you to hate Islam which is ridiculous because I was backpacking in Tunisia for a few days and people seemed pretty cool. Hey, look at this, someone posted a video on YouTube that makes it seem like Huckabee is supported by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. What’s for supper? Thai? Again?

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One Feedback on "Hating America and Ordinary Americans"

Dominique R. Poirier

“Bottom line: we will never be a great nation until we all realize how much we suck, and then we will also realize it is wrong to be a great nation. For that matter, nationhood are overrated. (The only nation that gets to be a nation is France.)”

As I read this statement made by an American citizen born in America, it gave me the idea of an exciting concept for a TV reality show, introduced as a survival game, whose rules would be the following:

1. The candidate(s) shall experience a two years sojourn in France, in the shoes of the average French citizen.

2. At the beginning of the game, the candidate will be provided with a starting package including:

6 months free of charge housing in the city or town of his choice;

a Master degree;

a French social security number (or a visa allowing him to work in France);

and $5,000.

As any ordinary French citizen, the candidate will not be granted with the advantage of influential connections or exterior help.

3. The first objective of the candidate is to get job and housing, and to be autonomous before the expiration of the 6 months starting period. This means that he must be able to pay by his own for food, electricity, telephone (should he want to), car or motorbike insurance (if ever he wants and can afford to buy a car or a motorcycle), etc.
However, being homeless at the end of the starting period is not considered as a failure, and, in this case, all the candidate has to do is to survive as the goal of the whole game is set by the rule #7, anyways.

4. As any ordinary French citizen, the candidate will not be allowed to enjoy U.S. TV programs and radio broadcasting, and U.S. newspapers as well.
However, watching French TV channels, listening to French radio, and reading French newspapers and newsmagazines are not compulsory.

5. The candidate who attempt to cheat in obtaining help in exchange for anti-American activities or statements of any sort will be eliminated.
Equally, working for a U.S. company having activities on the French soil will not be permitted.

6. The candidate will benefit of medical coverage, as any Frenchman does; and, should the need arise, he will be allowed to take anti-depressors. Also, he can abandon anytime before the end of the game and ask for immediate repatriation to the United States.

7. At the end of the two years, the winning candidate must have a job since 6 months at least, a housing (bought or rented, either; but entirely paid by his own, anyways), and demonstrate that he is perfectly autonomous and be able to pay for all his bills and taxes by his own — the ownership of an engine powered vehicle is not an obligation.

The winner(s) will be offered the choice either to stay in France and to get a $100,000 prize; or to get back home and be offered a nice SUV by a sponsor of this reality show.



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