One year ago I wrote about September 10th on my way to Israel. Now I am in Israel, again, and I take notice of America today, eleven years later.
America is a funny strange place filled with some very serious and brilliant men and women, but many fools and charlatans. Our blood lust following the attacks of September 11th was insatiable and our leaders at the time, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice et al, decided to fight two wars; wars that were undermanned, underfunded, and simply put on the credit card. Today we have had enough and have no desire for the next front whether it be Syria or Iran. The party in opposition has reassembled many of the same Bush era national security team members and are ratcheting up the rhetoric. They fashion themselves as the protectors of America, I call them the most dangerous men and women in America.
An ugliness has also bubbled back to the surface in America also; an ugliness that is always there but really comes out in a full bloom of hate and fear during tough economic times. I am talking about bigotry and racism. America is great place, and no I won’t get into a Will McAvoy diatribe here, but its citizens in dark times have this penchant to blame others, fear the unknown, and hate those that are different. I have written about our nation’s history of xenophobia and bigotry from the 18th century to today and I still am amazed that a nation of immigrants has no passion for the immigrant. Instead we want to build electrical fences, round up illegals, separate families, welcome them to fight and die in shitholes like Anbar Province but not give them a path to education and citizenship. The usual anti-immigrant rhetoric of they take our jobs, they don’t pay taxes, they suck up our services, and they are criminals were likely the same words spoken about the Irish, Italians, Germans, Eastern Europeans, Asians, and of course the Jews. I am shocked by my fellow Jews like Eric Cantor who exhibit no passion for immigrants when the story of the Voyage of the Damned is less than 80 years old.
The Three Falsehoods also are an unwelcome trend: false outrage, false equivalency, false narrative. The outrage about a rapper joining the first family to read poetry, the removal of a bust of long since dead Prime Minister, or a Vice President dropping an f bomb demonstrate the partisan crap and bile that an opposition party and its propaganda machine will spew to diminish a president. The false equivalency that campaign ads or questions about a candidate’s tax returns or business dealings are the same as questioning the president’s LEGITIMACY based on the charges of people looking to sell books and make a name for themselves. And finally the false narrative that includes claims of world apology tours, government takeovers, gun abolition, and higher taxes, when taxes are actually lower, and you can see it’s no wonder that many Americans tune out the talking heads and wrap themselves in a Snuggie and watch Jersey Shore or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
America is the greatest nation because there is no other nation with such a magnetic draw for the citizens of the world. But great does not mean perfect. As the world rapidly changes, we too need to face the new order and not deny its hearkening. Above all, we need leaders who look forward on education, trade, energy, foreign policy, science, healthcare, and everything else under the sun, NOT leaders who pine for yesteryear, who wail of the decline of America, or worst of all “take our country back”. The last line really should be “take our country backwards”. No forward is not just a campaign slogan it is a mission.
Yes eleven years ago our nation rallied after the heinous attacks; it was this generation’s greatest moment after its worst day. Today, our wounds are self-inflicted. And while prosperity makes ALL recoveries faster and stronger, I am smart enough to realize the ugliness will simply retract from the surface, but sadly never too far.