USA: Uneasy State of America This Fourth of July

4 07 2011

The Culture War and Cultural Chasms
. . .And so real hatred and resentment blooms thanks to a war by proxy between two groups pretending to be what they are not, but making everyone else pay for their lack of a core identity or any genuine skill of their own. Trash vs Posers.

Beep IS deep. 🙂

Or maybe it’s like an autoimmune disorder wherein the body turns on itself. Our defenses so revved up that we can no longer tell who the enemy is. At times I get caught up in this too. It’s so easy, with the ease at which groups are demonized these days, the constant fear being pumped into our society for the purposes of mass emotional manipulation.

Beep really got my mind going with this (more than I can do justice at the moment, with burgers and corn on the grill.) America is a strong, rich, diverse nation by any measure. We define ourselves by successful competition in every one of those measures — we’re Number One, we’re Number One! Otherwise, who would we be? (WOULD we be, at all, or would America cease to be? )

Isn’t THAT our number one fear, that as we celebrate again for having won the world in the 18th century and defended our title through the the 19th and 20th, that our dominance is behind us, our glory days done, that USA doesn’t mean Number One anymore?

This year, intramural culture wars don’t feel like America’s existential threat most to be feared, more like bread and circuses to distract us all so us real people, “we the people” will keep fighting among ourselves while “they the incorporated persons” make off with the national treasury.

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13 responses

4 07 2011
COD

I think that is clearly the number one fear for conservatives. Personally? Meh. I can see some definite advantages to being number 3. Mainly, it won’t be our job to play world cop with our military. Clearly that is the job for #1.

Do you see what I just did there? 😉

4 07 2011
JJ

We’re number three, we’re number three! 😉

5 07 2011
bpbproadrunner

I think that COD may be on to something. And yes, I just saw what you did! LOL. Well you are going straight to rush limbaugh hell for that comment! 😉

JJ has nailed this sort of existential angst that plagues now. The part about bread and circuses–I believe is the source of most of it. Incorporated persons artificially pumping us up with fear and angst and dread, as well as instigating new fights between us and various enemies over resources that the incorporated persons which to consolidate into their stash along with our national treasury, our natural resources and our good name. There is a tiny Eisenhower in my head running about in circles screaming expletives daily as a result.

5 07 2011
bpbproadrunner

I should add that if you were to look at America and judge it’s age, it is in it’s early 20s. Still blustery, and full of itself and not terribly emotionally mature. COD’s comment about not being the police of the world–yes, that would go a long way if we were to step away from that role {a lot!}–especially now since that role has been adopted as a pretense to cover up less savory motivational factors.

In the military, as you become older and more experienced, you are less likely to seek out danger in order to counteract with boredom, or to cover up for incompetence. I will be glad when America reaches that point.

5 07 2011
JJ

Favorite Daughter noticed that about the world’s religions, Beep (since we are talking about cultural chasms and clashes!)

She’s the religious history scholar, not her mother, but as I took it in one day when she was really wound up, it went something like this: the oldest eastern traditions that survive today, plus the Jewish tradition, are not exactly the hot-head problem in modern times. Christianity-Catholicism in Europe was quite the cultural disrupter for many centuries (can you say Crusades and spell the Inquisition, boys and girls?) yet along the way it also developed a serious scholarly-scientific tradition that gradually educated and uplifted brutishly poor people while phasing out their witch-burnings and government-overthrowing.
Then came comparatively hot-headed Protestants rebelling against THAT, including those who dominate the early American histories and cultural traditions. That’s where it gets interesting to Americans, because we’re so young and ethnocentric. 🙂

So the Protestant traditions were aging pretty well, the spiritual traditions I grew up with as did ALL the American presidents up through R-party leaders Eisenhower and Reagan, including Nixon as a Quaker (did y’all know that?) — maybe even Carter although he WAS a born-again southern Baptist evangelical and therefore rattled polite, modest, relatively established and time-tempered American southerners. I personally thought it was quite unseemly! 🙂

What’s wrong with the current Supreme Court in this power of story, would be not that the two-thirds majority is Catholic but that the 5-4 majority is evangelical about that so-called Catholicism — not the same tempered tradition and scientific respect but a uniquely radical American strain of fundamentalism. Which sure strains the rest of us and our older, arguably more traditional traditions!

Americans also gave the world the young, raw, radical Mormons (Glenn Beck didn’t fall as far from the American religious tradition as the rest of us would like to think — we’ve met the radical and He is Us.)

Oh, and I was surprised to hear from FavD that Muslims are younger as a belief tradition than Christiantity. I always thought it was Jewish, Islam, then Christ. The more robes and desert lands in modern times, the older? Nope. That might explain how their middle eastern resurgence of fundamentalist radicalism and America’s fundamentalist radicals, feel so alike and so raw and threatening to the rest of us . . .

5 07 2011
JJ

Evangelical fundamentalism that messes with School and State keeps us busy while the ship of state founders on corporate rocks?

Stuff like this is what I worry about:
Consititution-waving Conservative Christians

Time We Learned Our Lesson?

Not to mention that my mid-century Methodist role models, who hadn’t even split into separate churches yet, were also united in larger common purpose (never mind whether that label was used) with everyone I knew in and out of church, in and out of school, in so many stories that fit together for all as collaborative good works, rather than competing against each other in some high-stakes power struggle only one Story could win to Rule Them All.

5 07 2011
bpbproadrunner

I haven’t been impressed with any of the Abrahamic Religions at all. Your daughter needs to look up the Stealth Campaigns of the 80s. That will give her great insight as to how we got where we are now and why etc., With all three there is a strong underlying Rope of Institutional Discrimination against women and each other and especially those who are either of a different faith or who are Atheists. –All Three—Last night was a late night and I am just having my coffee and so am not equipped to tackle this conversation just yet with all that I can normally muster.

5 07 2011
JJ

Speaking of both military and religious maturity in American history, our Fourth of July tradition here is watching the musical “1776” and speaking/singing along. George Washington never appears but he’s a recurring major character throughout, sending the most de-PRESSING dispatches read aloud to punctuate key moments as the Continental Congress debates “independency” that hot (and hot-headed) summer. We also watched a History Channel episode of “Revolution” last night, all about Geo. Washington as the only person years later, who possibly could have been our first president, recognized as strong and stable.

Then as a religious history major, Favorite Daughter told me stories about Gen. Geo customarily leaving church every Sunday before communion, which he didn’t believe in as a deist, until the pastor sermonized on it, trying to pressure him into staying and submitting for form’s sake, presumably for the congregation’s benefit but also because that’s what religion does even to leaders of independence. So the General just quit going altogether. 😀

5 07 2011
bpbproadrunner

Well that wouldn’t surprise me. There are always going to be conflicts between concepts like *flock and *individuals. Chances are there were conversations between Washington and that pastor that are not recorded, that added to the general animosity.

5 07 2011
JJ

The General had no animosity. 😉

7 07 2011
JJ

Aha, another uniquely American young-and-raw religion, how could I forget Scientology?? 😉

Time Magazine gives us new story about what’s behind that religion’s rise and fall this week:

it’s declining, and I don’t think they’re going to be able to reverse that unless they do something drastic, especially in this economy. People have to have the money to afford it — its not free, you have to pay for almost everything.

What does their outreach consist of now?
They’re targeting people in communities who are not as plugged in to the history of the church, people who perhaps don’t have access to computers, so they’re going overseas and going to developing world. They’ve also tried to appeal to religious groups who might find a commonality with them, such as the Nation of Islam, which is very controversial itself. Louis Farrakhan made Dianetics mandatory reading for the leaders of his U.S. and international operations.

But if the church is going to stay alive, it really needs to be appealing to the middle class, which has traditionally been its core membership.

7 07 2011
JJ

OTOH, a new report of “values” in America’s youngest voters shows that they are the most mature! (unless they’ve been made hot-headed and uncooperative by their raw young radical religion?)

Excepting white evangelical Protestants, majorities of all major religious groups say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

13 07 2011
JJ

Here’s some “rethinking” of the Fourth of July, a rethinking that marks the difference in maturity between the Declaration of Independence our most hotheaded TEA partisans constantly invoke, and the more seasoned, wise-in-compromise United States Constitution that came a dozen years later, of which of current president is a bona fide scholar:

America was not America until it was, well, constituted. The United States of America was born after the 9th State ratified the US Constitution, and Congress certified the same on September 13, 1788. So we should by all means celebrate the 4th, but confusing Independence with the birth of a nation has serious constitutional-interpretive implications. If the two are the same, then the Declaration’s commitment to negative liberty — freedom from government — gets conflated with the Constitution’s commitment to positive liberty — its charge to the federal government to “secure the Blessings of Liberty.”

The fact of the matter is that government was a thing to be feared in 1776. Government, or so the revolutionaries argued, was tyrannical, distant, and brutish. But it was precisely a turnaround in sentiment in the years leading up to 1789 — the decade of confederal republican anarchy — that the States came around to the conclusion that government was not so much to be feared than it was needed. This fundamental reversal of opinion is conveniently elided in Tea-Party characterizations of the American founding.

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