BY JOHN STEPPLING (SIMULPOST WITH VOXPOP, OUR CYRANO SISTER BLOG)
Leno with one of his many vintage bikes. Playthings of the very rich, and buffers to reality as lived by the common man.
THE TOPIC OF PATRIOTISM has come up a lot recently, and culminated (for me, anyway) in a recent piece written by Jay Leno — yes, that Jay Leno, asshole apologist for Empire and happy Harley-riding millionaire.
I give it to you in full:
“As most of you know I am not a President Bush fan, nor have I ever been, but this is not about Bush, it is about us, as Americans, and it seems to hit the mark.
‘The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some Poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source,right?
The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the President.
In essence 2/3 of the citizenry just ain’t happy and want a change. So being the knuckle dragger I am, I started thinking, ‘What are we so unhappy about?”
A.. Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 Days a week?
B.. Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter?
C.. Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job?
D. Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in
the last year?
E.. Maybe it is the ability to drive our cars and trucks from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state?
F.. Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter?
G.. I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough either.
H. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all and even senda helicopter to take you to the hospital.
I.. Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home.
J.. You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames, thus
saving you, your family, and your belongings.
K.. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes, an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss.
L.. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90% of teenagers own cell phones and computers.
M.. How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world?
Maybe that is what has 67% of you folks unhappy.
Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. , yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don’t have, and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.
I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled ungrateful brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?
Did you hear how bad the President is on the news or talk show? Did this news affect you so much, make you so unhappy you couldn’t take a look around for yourself and see all the good things and be glad? Think about it……are you upset at the President because he actually caused you personal pain OR is it because the ‘Media’ told you he was failing to kis your sorry ungrateful behind every day. Make no mistake about it.
The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn’t have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ”general” discharge, an ‘other than honorable” discharge or, worst case scenario, a ”dishonorable” discharge after a few days in the brig. So why then the flat-out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans?
Say what you want but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells, and when criticized, try to defend their actions by ‘justifying’ them in one way or another. Just ask why they tried to allow a murderer like OJ. Simpson to write a book about how he didn’t kill his wife, but if he did he would have done it this way……Insane!
Turn off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as country. There is exponentially more good than bad. We are among the most blessed people on Earth and should thank God several times a day, or at least be thankful and appreciative.’With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, ‘Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?’ “
Ok, well, where to begin? Maybe with the cost of those emergency tows, and how that hospital wouldn’t take you without insurance (and few have it) or a good deal of cash. Or the price of roadside motels…….I mean I know last time I drove cross country I slept in my car to avoid the price of even the cheapest motels. Or my favorite, owners of flat screen TVs and the helpful police……what the fuck? Maybe Jay should visit Watts or South Boston, or sections of Philly and Detroit, or rural Mississippi and West Virginia. Maybe check out the busted and boarded up small towns of the rust belt or logging northwest. It’s an absurd piece and the sort of thing that could only be written by a man sealed off from the real world by his wealth and celebrity. But this brings me to the final paragraph and this question of the military protecting our freedoms. I confess I have no idea what he is talking about. Anymore than I know what world cuisine he is thinking of in Omaha (Taco Bell?). That no mention is made of health care or of the millions of dead all over the globe that can laid at the feet of our government speaks volumes about these abstract notions of patriotism and freedom.
Once upon a time the notion of patriotism was actually more linked to civic responsibility, to making one’s community a better and more livable place. Now it is only the jingoistic abstractions of an increasingly death-obsessed culture. Social justice is ignored and replaced with the militaristic chest-thumping bravado associated with Hollywood war films. Bush as Top Gun. No mention is made of how much money goes to defense and how much to new nonprofit hospitals or libraries. No mention is made of the millions living homeless or those who can’t afford to heat their homes in winter. Leno is a typical privileged white boy, who cannot manage to see the obvious suffering all around him, because he is protected from it in his literal and mental gated community.
This all links with the Empire’s need for peddling fear. It’s all linked to finding justifications of endless war. *They* don’t hate us because of our *freedoms* they hate us because of what we do to them. From Chile to the Congo to Haiti to Venezuela to Iraq and Iran and Guatemala and on to El Salvador and the Philippines — the body count is impossible to calculate. Most self-described patriots engage in pure ideological abstraction — in a reductive cartoon version of reality. The *liberals* of Hollywood, from Redford to Leno to Clooney engage in the very same thing. It’s the Sean Penn *we support the troops* mantra. It’s the cutoff point where actual poverty and marginalization cannot be processed — the life of the guy living under the bridge downtown simply is off the radar. The desperation of most Americans comes from a life of alienated slave labor and no job security (remind Leno, someone, of how only 9% of americans are unionized) and spiking energy costs. It’s the desperation of an obese anti-depressant-addicted populace that cannot make sense of the logic of Empire any longer, but who have been so poorly educated and so discouraged from autonomous thought that they must resort to the *patriotism* card — must somehow find *heroes* and must somehow make do with these abstractions even as their mortgage comes due or their children fall sick and they have no money to care for them.
Racism, poverty, enviornmental meltdown, and no money for health care or education — but 400 billion for war and death. Someone tell Leno to go fuck off.—John Steppling