Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Oxymorons in Washington

Most of us who are not-American can intuitively grasp that the USA is a Jekyll and Hyde kind of place. 

Sometimes the doc is in charge, sometimes the plain old mister, but this internal conflict and resulting pattern of periodic political alternation has never really been a permanent put-off. 

For we understand that this nation is rather obviously a hybrid: between Old World and New World conditions and values, not quite a proper First World country like Japan or Germany, nor yet a full-on Third World clusterfuck either. 

In contrast with other notable hybrids — Italy or indeed China, say   to the casual visitor the United States can come across as somewhat neither here nor there, for it lacks the profounder allure of a deeper history. 

It all began rather more recently and oxymoronically as the 'Empire of Liberty', a phrase coined by slave-owning Jefferson, and has continued in much the same vein ever since. 

There are always so many things for outsiders to admire, yet while Americans might think their 'brand' is the ideal, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, the manner with which the self-image is often out of step with the actual has always been very much part of the package.  

And this, somewhat counter-intuitively, makes global brand USA relatively immune to the sort of permanent trashing one could imagine it might now be receiving at the hands of the moron in the White House. (Even though it has to be noted that the paired down ideal, as currently expressed by the GOP in particular, is becoming less and less uplifting in the international arena.) 

However, extend what you mean by 'other people' to your internal audience - non-white people for instance  and therein you do have a bit of a problem, for Brand USA is much less able to cope with flagrant off-message hypocrisy when it comes to its own citizens, which is why it imposes the signs, symbols and platitudes of patriotism so rigorously at home. 

Kneeling NFL players do seem have found just the right contemporary spot in this old wound to insert and wriggle the finger. Nevertheless their protest is a mild one compared to some of the stuff witnessed in ante-bellum America: such as the public burning of the Constitution (a 'covenant with death') on July 4 by William Lloyd Garrison, founder of the anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator. 

One has to wonder what Vice President Pence would have made of THAT. 

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