Our Inferiority Complex, the Death Panel and My Blood Pressure

I just read an article on today’s MSN homepage called Are We America the Ignorant? and the accompanying gallery entitled America the Ignorant—Dumb Things Americans Believe. Sheesh. I’m so sick of being made to feel embarrassed to be American! It’s not helping anything, because it pits people against one another, as readily evidenced in the comments. Because the issues we’re divided on are so emotional, we can’t have a conversation about them and that is indeed pathetic…and of course the issues are related to either politics or religion.

Articles like these are on the rise as it becomes more fashionable to hate America. We are stupid, ignorant, decadent, racist western filth. The media as an industry has the power to create its own spin on our culture and shape how others see us and how we feel about ourselves. In this article they’ve taken things a minority of people believe and given it an America-Land-of-the-Idiots twist.

However, I dislike both the far right and the far left and refuse to take sides. One of the featured Dumb Things We Believe says that four in ten Americans believe that Obama would institute a “death panel” as part of health-care reform, apparently fueled by a comment made by Sarah Palin. I wouldn’t have believed this ratio before last summer, when I had to spend a night in the hospital due to an animal-rescue epic fail. I hated being there and the next day I got up and got dressed and impatiently paced around the room waiting to be released. A slovenly woman trundled down the hall past my room and into the room across the hall, which housed an old lady, her mother it turned out. The daughter started bible-blabbing to the mother. I couldn’t hear what the old lady said but I clearly heard the daughter squawking good and loud so everybody on the whole floor could hear “well everybody knows that’s the first thing he’s gonna do Mama, kill all the babies and the old people!”

I kind of lost it. I stood there listening to this bullshit getting more and more annoyed. The nurse came in to do a final blood-pressure check on me, and it was off the charts—so they wouldn’t let me go! Grrrr!

But in spite of this I believe our generosity spans the limits of our beliefs—and beyond. We as both a nation and a people give aid freely to countries who need it, regardless of the abuses that especially women in those countries suffer daily as a way of life. We are taunted with images that make us crazy. Stonings, female genital mutilation, being a prisoner inside a one-room mud shack dumping out babies your whole life then you die—2000 years of civilization has brought us lucky ones from the stone-age to a place where people really do have some rights, but you’d never know that from reading the news. We are constantly being asked to accept ways of life that repulse us as lovers of freedom.

A lot of Americans are hurting. We’re broke, have no health insurance, can’t find jobs. But I’ll bet even this awful lady with the big mouth in the hospital opened up her purse and donated—to Katrina, Haiti, Pakistan or whatever we are asked to—because that’s what Americans do.

I’m sorry but I rather love the godless shitbeast to death. Your thoughts?

12 responses to “Our Inferiority Complex, the Death Panel and My Blood Pressure

  1. I love this. It shows me a side of America that I hadn’t seen before. Having never been to the States, I am familiar only with the side you admittedly credit to the media, and I agree; the media have greatly contributed to the way the rest of us look at your people. Everything from the news, film, funny emails, to even things like music clips, have all shown us one thing or another which is less than admirable. However in saying that, we as a planet are not naive, and those of us that can think for ourselves can tell the difference between cultural flaws and just plain old humanity flaws.
    The American people are a product of American society, and so it goes for the people of the UK, Australia, Libya, Ukraine and and every other piece of turf on this sphere. How we are perceived, and how we are in reality, will inevitably be blown out of proportion by someone looking for a laugh, or for a story, or for some controversy. I really dig the thoughts this post provokes. I’m sure that my amazing country has also been brought into disrepute by some fool at some stage. I suppose with some larrikin convict drinking a beer and riding a kangaroo or some such other nonsense.

  2. Hi Antony,
    No, not RIDING a kangaroo. Mercilessly jacklighting and poaching them to make wallets out their hides while they’re still alive and abandoning the babies to die. That or Nicole Kidman and her baby.

    Thanks for validation regarding negative media portrayal but not glad it’s true…wish we could change that.

    Actually Australia’s on my list of someday before I die…

    Good to hear from you—your first post is still a classic to me!

  3. Austrailians spend all their time in the Outback having Shrimp on the Barbie, and sharpening their Crocodile Dundee knives while calling everyone Bruce. Or Sheila.
    I saw it on TV so, yeah, it must be real!

    Our media, like all media, bet on mushy minds ready for molding. Once it was rumored that our ‘journalist’ would critique our government and provide a de facto fourth branch for check & balances. That rumor has been squelched now that the emphasis is on critiquing those who question the government.

    My favorite half-cocked idea is that Obama is not an American citizen. I’m not a fan of his but I do find it impossible to believe this child from a single impoverished mother didn’t, at one point, receive some sort of Federal/State/Financial Aid and in doing so had to provide a copy of his birth certificate to someone. It just doesn’t make sense that Obama could’ve acheived what he has (like it or not) without proving citizenship more than once.
    I think “news” latches on to the lowest common intelligence level by providing varying story lines, scandals, summaries, and surveys. When they provide a buffet of information to feast on, people gravitate towards the comfort food of their experiences/education.
    Uneducated, mildly paranoid types with rampant insecurities latch onto whatever is simplest to consume; whether it is Death Panels, Birth Certificates, or Bush bringing back conscription in 2000/2004.
    Whatever scares you–controls you.

    I’m going back to my NASCAR, Fried Chicken, Confederate Flag, Jim Beam, and Trailer Park now…like a good Southerner. Might even burn a book or two whilst singing Onward Christian Soldiers…never know…

    • LOL I think Aussies are also known in US for treating Aborigines badly and living primitively with their sheep. So the point is their culture gets warped just like ours. F**king media!

      Arizona—every day I see magazine covers with caricatures of evil fat-bellied sheriffs with aviator shades harassing Mexicans. It’s NOT like that, and it hurts. We got a warning the other day from a Mexican cop for going 10 miles over the speed limit!

      You’re right, it’s about packaging and marketing fear. Well I’m afraid of THEM and their power.

  4. Most of what happens in the US never makes the “news”, which now relies on controversy, adrenalin, and shock value to “attract” an audience. I’ve stopped watching the televised news. I encourage you to do the same. I read the local community papers which have information on things going on in the area, lots more useful than whatever the large “news” outlets dish out.

    • Hi Rob,
      Very true.

      We dumped cable about two years ago so no news in this house. But it’s hard to avoid your home page, and it only takes a few seconds to get annoyed!

      I think the problem is we’re sort of forced to educate ourselves about what’s happening on the planet but there’s nowhere to get just the facts.

  5. I do think Americans have to look long and hard at how and why they are perceived by the World. So often the media are the judge and jury on these matters , but it still needs to be asked how and why this hostility has arisen.

    Like many Europeans I am deeply ambivalent about America’s foreign policy and culture. How can anyone dislike a Nation which gave the world Marilyn Munroe and Mickey Mouse? asks a book entitled ‘Why do people hate America?’ No other nation has been written about with a title as blunt as this!

    So much of the American attitude to the world is perceived as being just one of revenge and retribution with little reasoned debate, so it’s good to read a blog which a least attempts to debate about this hatred, which as we know is often irrational, but must be based on some discontent and grievance.

    The acquisition of wealth and the acquisition of truth are often two deadly enemies. Americans in general are not seen as great travelers and thus often rely upon outside reports for their information upon the rest of the world. So we’re back to national media being judge and jury again Insularity and ignorance often also leads to misconceived perceptions of the world.

    In many ways my own nation, Great Britain, is far more worthy of hostility for the historical crimes it has committed, but Britain, unlike America, is no longer an economic and military super-power, and therein lays the root of the perceived hatred. ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears a Crown’ as Shakespeare wrote!

  6. There are 66 millions hits for “I hate America.” The more we give, the more we’re hated.

    I think most Americans are just trying to get by. Weird about the perception of not being travelers, as I have read Americans are among the most welcome tourists in the world. There is a caricature for the US tourist too, we all know what it is—we might look stupid but the fact is we are generally polite, do not cause trouble, and know about tipping.

    I have wondered myself about the lack of hostility for Great Britain and have thought it’s not fair! We just love the Brits to death over here. Yes America is big and blows wads of money we don’t have. We sacrifice soldiers too. But it seems we couldn’t win no matter what.

    Thanks for writing.

  7. I’m Female, Australian, and Asian: I’m a walking triple target for stereotypes – anything about PMS, riding on Kangaroos and pirated DVDs. But for the record I want to say: I have made it from down under to the USA 3 times in 4 years. And each time is a vile 25 hr plane ride and a confusing time tunnel experience where you gain a day on arrival but lose a day when back …. ?? But each time it’s all been worth it because I just love the States – the progressive & open thinking of the people I’ve met has been refreshing & I always feel a pull to be back. The Americans I’ve spent time with have challenged me to both think laterally & explore my creative curiosity. And that’s that. Luckily despite all the bullshit thru the worldwide media, there are some of us that still believe the truth is something one needs to personally verify.

  8. Thanks Evelyn (that’s no longer a common name, but it was my mother’s name and I love it—it has become unique!)

    Especially NYC where you touch down—the center of the earth for modern creativity. It wasn’t always this way because we are a young country, but it is now. Deal with it, planet!

    I think it’s wrong to be constantly devaluing love for one’s home. To make a nation feel like a bunch of morons when we’re in a time where people are down, down, down. Hey we could use a little help here ourselves, ya know?

    Thanks for your comments, global butterfly—maybe someday you’ll alight in Arizona…

  9. Do you think it’s human nature to reflect only the negative characteristics of a group as stereotypical? Do all humans have xenophobic tendencies? Maybe as a primitive sense of self-preservation?

  10. I think the natural instinct is for people to be fearful of the unfamiliar and what they don’t understand. And as is often with fear the defence mechanism is to be hateful and aggressive leading to prejudice, bigotry etc. But the key is self-awareness, everyone has a choice to check themselves and take incremental steps to broaden their perspective.

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