Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Monday, September 06, 2010

When We Get Older It Stops Making Sense

Okay, I give up.

Not that I haven't tried. I've been watching telecasts and videos, I've been reading all kinds of articles and comments both supportive and critical, I've been studying quotes, and I've been poring over analyses. I still don't get it. An awful lot of things happening in the US lately, and an awful lot of the things people are saying and doing about them seem just plain insane. Can someone please tell me when it all stopped making sense?

I know that, as an ex-pat marooned on planet Japan, there's probably a lot that doesn't reach my ears, but even so, what is up with:
  1. The "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy. First of all, if one actually looks at a map, one can easily see that it's not being built at "Ground Zero" at all. The site is two blocks away on the blind side of a group of skyscrapers, i.e. Ground Zero probably won't be visible from it, and vice versa. Second, the term "mosque" is inaccurate; it's an interfaith religious center which is planned to contain a Jewish synagogue and Christian chapel in addition to a Muslim mosque. The whole (stated) point is to bring all the "People of the Book" (i.e. worshipers of the God of Abraham and Moses) under one roof. Frankly, I find it ironic that so many Christians and Jews are so frothingly opposed to that. I also find it disturbing that so many people are making this a patriotic issue, especially since the Constitution we cherish specifically states that government shall not infringe upon freedom of religion.
  2. The "Obamacare" controversy. Here I admit that I'm mostly in agreement with the conservatives. Mostly. Definitely not completely. I'd long hoped to see medical care reform in the US, but not like that. Tying doctors to a centralized government bureaucracy (Can you say, "Red tape?") is just a bad idea, pure and simple. The health care system in the UK shows it all too clearly. The problem is that, like so many educators, a lot of politicians tend to see only the ideals of a situation but not the reality. They look at the system in the UK and they say, "Look! No fuss, no mess, no worries!" Unfortunately, they tend not to notice the, "No care, either," bit. The new US system also includes that weird insurance thing, which seems poised to cause more harm than good. All in all, it makes about as much sense as the invasion of Iraq did. That having been said, I find all this blathering by right-wingers about "death panels" or comparing Obama to Hitler to make even LESS sense.
  3. The "Restoring Honor" rally. Okay, let me get this straight. A firebrand conservative Fox News commentator who is famously anti-Obama and has even called the President a "racist" on the air organizes a massive rally (Estimates of attendance tend to vary with political alignment) at the Lincoln Memorial...on Martin Luther King, jr. Day, no less...and insists that it has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with God. Indeed, the word "God" gets tossed about almost as much as the word "America", with calls to put Our Heavenly Father back at the center of everything, including schools (despite the Constitution's clear separation of church and state). Other oft-repeated words are, "America must move forward," and, "We must restore America's honor," but it's never really said what we should move forward from (or to, for that matter) or how our country's honor got sullied in the first place. There's a lot of grandiose talking, but not much is really said...or at least a lot is left to the imagination, which basically means people are left to their preconceived notions. Regardless of Mr. Beck's evangelical claims, however, pretty much every attendee I saw interviewed was quick to talk about issues of politics (i.e. complaining about Obama). Those few statements I heard related to religion were mainly criticism of the "Ground Zero Mosque" if not Islam in general. Posts and comments on the internet tended to reflect similar thinking. Obviously most people didn't think it had everything (or even anything) to do with God. I also have to wonder about the martial tone that kept popping up, such as when Sarah Palin said, "Don't retreat, reload!" So just what WAS the real point of this rally, anyway?
  4. The Free Speech issue. One thing I've often heard connected with the "Restoring Honor" rally is the fact that people's voices MUST be heard. The Obama administration keeps getting accused of trying to limit free speech, and these Tea Party demonstrations as well as Glenn Beck's rally are partly intended to challenge that. The ironic thing is that, only a few years ago, Liberals were saying and doing pretty much the same thing against the Bush administration...and the same Conservatives who are now crying "free speech" were saying that it was "treason" to criticize the President during wartime. Well, people, as far as I know, the war ain't over. So what's the excuse for this 180° flip-flop? And why aren't the Liberals returning the favor by calling them "traitors"?
  5. Illegal immigration. This has ALWAYS been a problem. At least it has been as long as I've been alive. Why is it suddenly such a huge and heated (and politicized) issue?
  6. Bottom-scrapingly paranoid propaganda. My Facebook friend list includes quite a number of conservatives, some passionately so, and thus my news feed gets a steady supply of anti-Obama and anti-Islam postings. Some of them have been very significant and thought-provoking. There are, after all, some very legitimate gripes. However, there is an awful lot that merits little more than a facepalm. Less than a month into his presidency, before he'd really done anything, Obama was already getting hammered mercilessly on the intertubes for everything from his "true" nationality and religious leanings to his "tyrannical, communist agenda" (actual quote). (Of course, race had absolutely nothing to do with it. Gosh, no!) Now it seems people are trying to outdo each other in how they try to portray the President as a Constitution-trampling, racist, radical Marxist Muslim from Kenya (if not hell), and a lot of these accusations are really scraping through the bottom of the barrel and into the manure beneath. Islam has been faring little better. I don't know how many articles and videos I've had slogged my way that claim to show the "true face" of Islam by focusing on the fringe elements rather than the mainstream or by showing or quoting things way out of context. When a website which claims to be dispelling misconceptions tries to do so by providing misconceptions of its own if not outright falsehoods, I feel like I should be amused, but I'm not laughing. The comment threads of these videos and articles show that an awful lot of people are buying into this stuff, and the level of ignorance, paranoia, and irrational hate is as pathetic as the spelling and grammar one tends to find in such threads. I can only hope that cooler minds will prevail, lest society come to treat wisdom as a punishable offense.
*WHARRRRGARBL* It just doesn't make any sense!!!!!!!

Time for some Talking Heads...


  • you know, i'm thankful i don't live there, but am embarrassed by what is happening.

    By Blogger Um Naief, at 2:06 AM  

  • I can say it in one word-FEAR. Freaky fundies/Fake Conservos are very successful at scaring people and appealing to the lowest common denominator bigots. See Beck and his Capital Gold ads...

    The economy (really world wide) is in the toilet and instead of tightening up one's own spending, you can blame taxes (healthcare), those darn illegal immigrants (white people need jobs!...funny how they're not rushing out to the landscaping/produce picking/restaurant cleaner jobs...), Obama the black guy, Muslims (the Jew/Nazi/Jap/Pinko Commie Wartime enemy of the year), "East Coast Elites" (you know all those educated white people are just sneering at you..) etc., etc.,

    It's alot of histronic hysterical nonsense designed to shout down any rational discourse. Excellent article here

    By Blogger ladybug, at 9:03 AM  

  • I believe our culture has been successfully hacked and the 0.1% with 70+% of the resources can play Americans like fiddles.

    It isn't that there aren't people who are rational. There are plenty of very reasonable people of many views who either get zero airtime or have to run the gauntlet of buffoons in order to be seen.

    Meanwhile India and China are investing in their infrastructure, educating their people, and slowly but surely displacing us economically with the help of both parties while cheap energy gets harder and harder to find.

    The kicker that makes me cry and laugh at the same time is that people are vaguely aware of this, but because they won't turn off their TVs long enough to think about it, the repetition reinforces the horse crap.

    These are sad days for both republics and democracies.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 10:37 AM  

  • Politics this side isn't anywhere near good either.

    By Blogger HappySurfer, at 3:30 PM  

  • What Snabby said.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 4:36 PM  

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