Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Ugliest Side of America

Americans have not had a great rep outside of our own country. It started with the image of fat, blundering tourists, waddling through countries and assuming everyone spoke English. It wasn't just the annoyance of having to deal with someone who refused to learn German when they were visiting Germany; it was the fact that Americans seemed to think they were speaking the one way everybody should speak. It was the audacity of getting upset when ranch dressing wasn't an option for your salad. It was how Communism won: the Commies understood how to talk to local people, understand them, and thus communicate with them.

The blustering image died away, but, in the wake of 9/11, a very similar image has arisen. We failed to reach the "hearts and minds" of Iraqis because we didn't understand their culture. But now it's no longer the Ugly Americans abroad who inspire distaste; tourists aren't coming to America any more. Our culture of fear, our paranoia, our crime, our treatment of foreigners all combine to ensure that our tourism industry has collapsed.

But who cares about what the foreigners think, right? We shouldn't care what all of the nations of the world think of us. Fine. But what about the ugliness that we, as fellow Americans, should not stand among ourselves?

This video has been going around and around the Internet. Please take a look:

I know that these people might be a vocal minority--might be--just as the liberals have a vocal minority who think trees are better than people, that 9/11 is some big conspiracy, and that Obama is the Messiah who will save our country and our souls.

But then I read all of these articles about McCain's rallies and what people are saying there.
Shouts of "traitor," "terrorist," "treason," "liar," and even "off with his head" have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them.

...In two events this week, warm-up speakers at GOP rallies have used Obama's middle name, Hussein, to seed doubts about the Democrat, a tactic meant to draw attention to the false rumors that Obama is a Muslim, as well as to belittle him. "On Nov. 4, let's leave Barack Hussein Obama wondering what happened," a sheriff told Palin's Florida rally. (AP article)

In Minnesota on Friday, Mr McCain defended Mr Obama after some at the town hall meeting labelled him a "terrorist", "an Arab", a "traitor" and a candidate who inspired fear... At the Minnesota meeting, Mr McCain said Mr Obama was a decent family man and voters should not be afraid of him, but drew boos for defending him. (BBC article)
McCain, when he deals with these kinds of attacks, has been over the past few months prone to simply saying "That distracts from the issues." To my knowledge, McCain has never said to his crowds, "Barack Obama is not a terrorist." He's never said "Obama is not a Muslim." He denounces the bald attacks on Obama, but he is glad to use those radicals' words to get more votes. He doesn't want to say to his supporters, "you're wrong." He wants their votes, needs their votes, and so he will not take the moral high ground. He'll tread in the middle, going around the cries of "kill him" with a remark or two about the differences in their platforms.

1 comment:

Missy said...

This stuff has been making me crazy. Here's a good op/ed on the topic: