We live in a world where the very mention of the nomer ‘American’ entails a special kind of Saturday-morning-cartoons kind of ridiculousness. Whether it concerns the very serious matter of the world’s most powerful military being at the beck and call of politicians who, even by the lax standards we allow them to aspire to, generally fall well short of sensible, or the abjectly looney stereotypes perpetuated on the internet that are all too real, being designated as ‘American’ no longer carries the ‘saviors of Europe and Ruski-butt-kicking’ label it used to. America, and by this I mean the United States of said America, still commands a global empire which – unlike the empires of far older nations – is not a true empire in the way of declaring every bit of rock a ship in Her Majesty’s service lands on to be part of the Empire, but rather an economic and political empire which exists in this day and age by virtue of things no longer relevant to the disproportionate amount of influence America and its vaunted dollar still have.
That is not to say I think we should all declare dollars obsolete and switch to Euros or Yen, it simply means that the entrenchment of American greatness is extremely reminiscent of British Imperialism and a quick head count will tell you exactly how many territories are still truly part of the Crown and which have long since declared Her Majesty’s rule over Her distant subjects absolute nonsense and simply got on without Her – America included.
It is natural for there to be a marked ranking in power and influence. There always has been and there always will be until the day the universe, in its incomprehensible vastness, wipes us, this planet, and even the entire solar system, wholly and rather spectacularly out of existence. That may actually be giving us too much credit – the universe being far more patient than we are – it is far more likely we’ll be the ones destroying ourselves, but nevertheless.
It is both sad and frightening that politicians inheriting the scepter over the United States (as well as the 101st airborne and the triton missile launch codes) are much more election winners than they are governing juggernauts who, in their vast experience, know how to behave at the helm of a country whose every move casts shadows across the globe. I will tell it like it is: we – that is, the rest of the world – hold our breath in terror every time one of your senators rails against homosexual couples and praises God and Jesus Christ for the guns and ammo he clings to instead of real masculinity. We shudder in fright when your governors speak with all the eloquence of a middle-school drop-out to pander to an evidently increasing number of loyalists who honestly believe the world would be a better place if the Air Force went ahead with its unilateral first strike plans and paved all the sandy shitholes of the world red, white, and blue, because nothing says ‘freedom and democracy’ like sending in the marines to make sure the message gets across. “Yes, I’ll have the Grande Freedom latte with double thick democracy milk please.”
Yet most of this is beyond the scope and cares of the vast majority of the people, just as this brief note has, even in its briefness, far exceeded the attention span of most people. “Such scandalous generalizations!” you howl from behind your computer, and howl you should, but that doesn’t mean I’m not also spot on. For all the talk of the future and our children who will make it their time, the young people of this generation are far more up-to-date on which internet memes are trending than the future they are being promised. In fairness, when I was their age I couldn’t care less either, but then my parents didn’t spend 18 hours a day surfing the web re-watching YouTube virals and checking the number of ‘likes’ they got on their Facebook pages – my parents knew what they were doing. We don’t have a clue. Worst still, as clueless as we are, Americans appear to be even more so and thus their children by extension. There is very little hope for children whose concept of reality is skewed by the make-believe world in which they are being raised. American school districts are teaching creationism alongside of evolution as “just as likely, probably more so, amen” whilst their text books make no mention of crazy things like world geography and the fact that homosexuality is not a pact people make with the devil but a naturally occurring phenomenon.
No, America is a scary place where being black means you are more likely to get shot and killed than you are of going to college and getting a degree. It is a place where it is easier to get an automatic assault rifle with a night scope than it is to get some common decency if you differ from the accepted norm.
It must be said: I love the US, but then I am a hopeless romantic who believes in potential and banks on long odds. I hold fast to the hope that one day, somehow, American will invest as much in education as they do in political smear campaigns and redundant missile systems. But still there is that fear – fear that all the hoping in the world won’t make it so. The fear that the current batch of Americans will grow into versions of their parents who have learned nothing but ‘might makes right’ and ‘God bless America.’ There is the very real possibility the nomer ‘American’ will soon not only have gone from the once positive to its current questionable designation, but that it will be allowed to degrade further, eroded by ignorance and apathy, and a well-deserved reputation as global bullies devoid of manners, reasons, or prudence.