American Culture

Never forget…what, exactly?

Yesterday, Big Think posted an interesting collection of Gallup Poll results, along with some commentary: Obama Actually Made America Great Again. Here’s the Data. To hear the rabidly irrational Obama opposition on today, of all days, I can only say that these are funny numbers to describe how Obama has ruined America in eight years.

What’s truly deplorable is that, of all the ways Bush (with a boost from Dems) ruined America by abridging liberty, dragging us into ill-advised wars against the the wrong nations, and spending our economy into a hole (for starters), Obama has doubled down on many of the worst errors while slightly more than half polled feel that things are relatively peachy. Now the fix, allegedly, is to return power to the party that fucked us up to begin with or to keep it in the hands of the party of saccharine platitudes used to mollify the poor and aggrieved toward improved profits for the wealthiest.

That’s what I’m not forgetting. And I’m not forgetting that Reagan created bin Laden. And that Obama has done a superb job of creating fertile recruiting grounds for the next one. And that neither candidate proposes anything that amounts to a bit of difference to either of those extremes.

As for 9/11 memes and American idol worship, my friends will find plenty enough of that elsewhere. I was on the ground in DC that morning, and remember all too well how quickly the world can change from the moment one steps on the train to go to work and the time one steps off. Where there had been nothing before but the banal boredom of administrative life, there were suddenly jersey barriers and armed troops and confused, milling civilians. In NYC, the change was more dramatic, and far worse. In a field in Pennsylvania, the change was every bit as tragic.

We’ve spent the last 15 years forgetting principle, but once a year we remember the most superficial details so that we can recall the nearly 3000 dead Americans who we prove, day in and day out otherwise, died in vain. because we learn nothing. There are no meaningful occasions to which we rose past those first few days of national mourning, only depths to which we’ve sunk. We’ve eviscerated the Bill of Rights. We’ve embraced torture. We’ve made a virtue of turning a blind eye to our own wrongdoings. These are the new American values, and we’re to believe both that athletes refusing to honor them are the big scandal, and that it’s better to walk back criticisms of people of deplorable character than it is to confront them.

I remember perfectly fucking well.