Friday, July 2, 2010

National Loathing

As the U.S. heads into the July 4 weekend, one might take the time to reflect on, say, the liberties that we enjoy, or the shared values that we embrace. One might think it odd to use the occasion to lament that independence from Great Britain means we can't get a decent cup of tea; we have many other days in the year in which to embrace the glass-half-empty philosophy.

Yet the leader of a well-known Steampunk band chose to retweet the following: "In the US, the idea of a female president still weirds many out. Iceland's female prime minister just married her girlfriend." Perhaps the first sentence is true, though it lacks any firm empirical basis. Personally, I'd be delighted by a competent female President, though choosing a political leader on the basis of gender (or race, I might add) seems to be a poor method.* Let me concede that gender (or race) matters to some voters. There's no accounting for tastes. (This explains why Air Supply was once popular.)

The second sentence of the tweet was news to me, but let me applaud briefly and say "Yay, score one for love." I don't care for politicians, but that's no reason they shouldn't get married, whether here or in Iceland. But what am I to make of the juxtaposition of the two sentences? That the U.S. should be more like Iceland because voters in the latter country are willing to elect a woman? Or a lesbian? Or that Iceland permits gay marriage? Perhaps I'm reading too much into two brief sentences, but this seems an example of an unhealthy line of thinking that seems all too commonplace. "I dislike my country because many of its residents don't think like me." How sad for those people.

Now excuse me while I brew myself an all-American cup of Assam tea in my Caledon tea mug.

* Not to digress too badly, but I find it disconcerting when pundits suggest that women and racial or ethnic minorities are supposed to vote according to gender, race, or ethnicity. It's demeaning. We have an African American President precisely because the racial majority did not vote according to race, yet the minority is supposed to let skin color factor into the decision? Tsk, tsk.


Breezy Carver said...

looks up and gives a smile .. sad to say, but for Some my dear it's just never enough :)

I happen to agree and applaud you !!!
Kudos for Iceland and such
But we are still the USA , America The land of Liberty ((not progressives)) , The country that so many of we love .Regardless of the constant judgments & some sladers from our neighbors !

Emilly Orr said...

fear most of the people in it. And if they restrict too many of my freedoms, especially the ones that scare me (right to worship freely, right to at least live with whom I choose, if not actually marry them), then yes, I'll be pounding on Canada's border asking to be let in.

It used to mean something, and something important, to be American--all the brash, aggressive attitude, the posturing, the "Dig me" mentality came with a point--freedom for everyone; freedom for all, not just the privileged few. It doesn't seem to mean the same thing these days, and there's a lot of striation along belief lines, political lines.

I'm still fighting for American to stand proud, but at this point...we have to find our humility, as a nation, before we can stand upright again. (IMO.)

Mako Magellan said...

Come on. Stop pretending! We know all you Americans really want to be Australians :)

Rhianon Jameson said...

You caught us, Mr. Magellan. :) (It's supposed to hit 100 at Chez Jameson the next few the moment, being Australian - or, rather, in Australia - seems like a great idea!)

Miss Orr, I heard a number of sentiments along the lines of your, particularly during the Bush years. Perhaps I lead a sheltered life - I know I lead a sheltered life - but I don't see it. Religion? Sexual orientation? Where are people restricted in any meaningful way. If anything, the restrictions we do face are those we impose upon ourselves: we're fearful of having discussions about, say, race, or immigration laws, because certain opinions are considered impermissible. Humility is good, both individually and as a nation; no argument there. But every once in a while it's nice to step back and reflect on what we're doing right.

Miss Breezy, hold strong. :)