Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Up From The Comments

Because Dave makes a good point:

Dear Amy's Mom,

Does the pizza ad give you any indication of how your president is perceived in other parts of the world?

Remember New Zealand is a civilised western country (the first country to introduce full democracy by giving women the right to vote) which has fought on the same side as the US in several wars (but rightly declined to send combat troops to Iraq).

Even ignoring the mismanagement of the American economy and the war on terror (a smokescreen to distract from the real issues and dismantle the democratic ideals it claims to be fighting for), the Bush administration's disregard for the environment has a strong negative impact in the South Pacific with nothing being done about global warming and the hole in the ozone layer overhead. Global warming will create far more genuine problems for the planet than terrorism as the new millenium unfolds.

The ad is not an especially political statement, merely a joke which is able to work because it reflects a widely held opinion. It has often been observed that if the rest of the world could have voted in the last US election, Bush would have been out by a landslide.




This is one of those points on which the American left and right most deeply disagree. The right believes that the US is not merely sovereign, but wholly and utterly independent of the rest of the world; what people in other nations might think does not matter; we do what we want, when we want, for our own reasons. The left believes that nations are like individuals -- they each have their own rights, but as part of a larger society they also have responsibilities to each other.

I can tell you exactly what Momster thinks of the prevailing opinion among New Zealanders of George W. Bush: she doesn't care. You see, most Americans see the rest of the world as falling into one of three categories: 1) places you'd like to go on vacation; 2) places you'd never want to go ever (usually populated by sick and/or starving brown people); and 3) places to fight. New Zealand falls in the first category; for all intents and purposes you fulfill the same function in the American mind as Disney World. To suggest that your opinions should matter is sliding dangerously close to being annoyingly uppity -- why doesn't the rest of the world just learn its place, ie subordinate to the US? We're in charge, you don't get a say.

The problem, of course, is that the rest of the world outnumbers the US by a rather large factor. And given that we're all sitting inside this same thin atmospheric bubble, eventually our problems become your problems, and vice versa. At present the American mainstream still follows a standard Keynesian model of economics: our needs are our needs and your blind sheep and melanoma epidemic are "externalities." We wish to not have to deal with them, so we don't; the same is true whether we're speaking of your ozone hole or the violent rage of poor brown people. We're not responsible for everything, obviously, but in our collective mind we're not actually responsible for anything.

Momster probably wouldn't put it quite that way, but that's basically what it amounts too; approximately half the nation feels the same way. The point I keep trying to make to my international friends is that there are roughly as many people who feel repelled by that perspective, and recognize it as the collective sociopathy that it is. Half the American mind is trying to bring the other half back to rationality. But the schizoid little voice of George W. Bush keeps telling America to kill kill kill, and that makes things harder.

Liberal America to earth: send lithium.
5:05 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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