Here’s a quick grab:
[tag]Iraq[/tag] Has Two* Virginia Techs Every Day
By Juan Cole
“I keep hearing from US politicians and the US mass media that the “situation is improving” in Iraq. The profound sorrow and alarm produced in the American public by the horrific shootings at [tag]Virginia Tech[/tag] should give us a baseline for what the Iraqis are actually living through. They have two Virginia Tech-style attacks every single day. Virginia Tech will be gone from the headlines and the air waves by next week this time in the US, though the families of the victims will grieve for a lifetime. But next Tuesday I will come out here and report to you that 64 Iraqis have been killed in political violence. And those will mainly be the ones killed by bombs and mortars. They are only 13% of the total; most Iraqis killed violently, perhaps 500 a day throughout the country if you count criminal and tribal violence, are just shot down. Shot down, like the college students and professors at Blacksburg. We Americans can so easily, with a shudder, imagine the college student trying to barricade himself behind a door against the armed madman without. But can we put ourselves in the place of Iraqi students?”
[*Actually, even according to Iraq Body Count, it's more like three]
I get a powerful sense of dread that America’s demise as a free and democratic country is imminent, that it’s descent into chaos is nigh.
America hates itself and is destroying itself like a [tag]cancer[/tag]. The signs are not simply the mass slaughters of fellow citzens by unhinged individuals (as compared to the mass exteminations of civilians of other countries by a unhinged individual). There’s a righteousness, an absoluteness at every level of every debate. Even (some) atheists are just as extreme and fundamentalist about their hatred of [tag]religious[/tag] people (and not just their beliefs) as the extremists of most religions. In a recent comments thread on a US blog a rampant [tag]atheist[/tag] was taken to task for his vitriolic, personal, bullying attacks on christians. After a while cooler heads proposed solutions to the unwavering, unrepentant, one-eyed wanker’s anger. Their numerous solutions were either a head job or some calming weed. Values Australia does not, strangely enough, offer a value judgment on these propositions as pastimes but as an indicator of Americans’ default conflict resolution thinking it is telling.
According to my UNE Psych. lecturer, Dr Maurice Marsh (many years ago), disturbed people whose sense of self is disintegrating, when they draw or paint people, will give them really thick, dark outlines to hold the “person” together. It’s a classic projection of their own fear of disintegration of the self. That is what it seems to me Americans are doing now. Painting themselves and their positions with thick, dark, definite outlines because they sense of the impending disintegration of their society.
They have clearly lost any sense of perspective.
Despite the horror of the shooting in Virginia, no-one seems capable of seeing the obvious. They cannot see that the problem is not the availability of guns but that they want guns at all. They don’t see guns as a problem but as a solution. Or they see the solution to the problem of guns as…more guns. This is a madness which anyone else can see and they cannot.
There is no external cause which they can blame for the American illness. “The fault…is not in our stars, but in ourselves…” There is no evil cloud which has descended upon the country. America is allergic to itself and is destroying itself. Like a cancer, or an auto-immune disease. America hates itself. The people are incapable of seeing, much less saying, that the gun culture is part of the problem, because “the right to bear arms” is welded to their psyche. It is unquestionable and untouchable and not open to debate and so one of the causes of the problem simply cannot be treated. Therefore, to protect themselves from the looming chaos, they shore up their prejudices and their [tag]Fox[/tag]-pop opinions and relate to them as certainties and absolute truths, which some of them are then prepared to kill for, or kill to defend.
Of course there are extremely intelligent, immensely wise Americans, extraordinarily highly-trained and profoundly skilled in personal and interpersonal [tag]psychology[/tag] and [tag]social psychology[/tag]. Of course there are incredibly advanced and effective thinkers and practitioners in organisational and [tag]corporate dynamics[/tag], as well as in conflict resolution and mediation. But there are few of them and their influence is waning.
I give America a decade or two before there is some sort of right-wing [tag]coup[/tag] – probably a private-militia-led attempted revolution followed by a military takeover to protect the nation. Restraining [tag]freedom[/tag] and [tag]democracy[/tag] to protect “FreedomandDemocracy”.
America will become the home of the cowed and the land of the whupped.
And perhaps I’m wrong. I really hope so.
But consider that Kurt [tag]Vonnegut[/tag] was at least a very significant cultural influence on American society.
Nevertheless, [tag]Fox News[/tag] aired a scathingly dismissive and vicious obituary on him within days of his death. Why? Because he was a “[tag]liberal[/tag]“.
The American right claims to be fighting for the liberation and freedom of the [tag]Iraqi[/tag] people, sending its own young men and women to die for that “sacred” cause – the very cause they hate and despise at home. It is clear that Americans are, as Americans say, “conflicted”. Severely, terribly, pathologically conflicted and there is no known cure for such a disease at such a scale. The conflict is not merely between groups. The conflict is embedded within every American. It’s always been there to some extent. They’ve always held it together until now. Now it is too much.
They are like Schrödinger’s cat, in two mutually exclusive but simultaneously superposed states – and the tension is unbearable.
They are amongst both the most generous and the greediest people on earth.
They believe “Life is precious. We have religious burials for our chihuahuas.”
And they also believe “Life is cheap. Look how easiliy (and enthusiastically) we murder foreigners and each other.”
They believe “Our values are [tag]puritan[/tag]. Puritanism is the bedrock of the country.”
And they also believe “Our values are freedom. We have fought endless wars for our own and others’ freedom.”
They believe “Everything matters.”
And they also believe “Nothing matters.”
They believe “Everything has [tag]value[/tag].”
And they also believe “Nothing has real value.”
They believe “Blessed are the poor.”
And they also believe “God wants us to be rich.”
They believe “[tag]Blessed[/tag] are the meek.”
And they also believe “You can’t win unless you are bold.”
They believe “[tag]Success[/tag] is having lots of stuff.”
And they also believe “A successful life is about relationships, not stuff.”
If only there were a [tag]god[/tag] who could look down on them and bless them and bring them [tag]peace[/tag]. Because if things go the way I fear, then god help us, too.
[tags]australian, values, australian values[/tags]