Americanism: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

February 18, 2008

[…] What is it, this American morality? This righteousness? Is it our religious roots in the fable of the Puritan settlers, those super religious people who in their hardships were bigots, perhaps also practitioners of incest and racists soon morphing into dogmatic chauvinists who early-on labeled their dissidents and different-thinkers witches and demons.

Pre-Americanism! The same Americanism initiated then which today fosters the rights of the rich to become richer, the strong to trample the weak and the contempt for and the crushing of anything smacking of the social in our land, real trade unions and, heaven forbid, universal health care.

Meanwhile, out in the empire, as long as it is distant, the Puritan legacy instills blindness to the use of cluster bombs from the stratosphere and hidden torture in places with foreign names like Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib … and while our neighbors in Haiti eat dirt, literally?

When I asked a friend and writer colleague in heartland America what he understands by Americanism, he stunned me and overwhelmed me with the following:

“From birth I have been immersed, enculterated, inculcated, and surrounded by the myriad toxic components of the ‘American Dream’ or ‘Americanism.’ There are some admirable aspects to ‘America’ but by and large we live in a spiritual/psychological sewer.” He then listed two dozen aspects of Americanism, which I repeat here: narcissism, greed, hyper-individualism, consumerism, capitalism, corporatism, faux democracy, media whoredom, asphyxiation of the Left, Christian fundamentalism, Mammon worship, moral retardation, militarism, imperialism, celebrity worship, wars on drugs and terrorism, prison industrial complex, mean-spiritedness, self-absorption, American exceptionalism, bullying, anti-intellectualism and the abandonment of many uninsured and homeless in the wealthiest nation on earth.

Whew! That is article, essay, denouncement and indictment…read full article

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