Monday, August 17, 2009

What's Wrong with the USA?

Chuck, as depressed as I am about the death of the public option (among other depressing events), sends this plaintive message from NYC:
Saturday, on Broadway, a woman calls my name. At first I didn’t recognize her; gradually it dawns on me that she is a former neighbor who lived near me when I lived on 110th Street twenty-five years ago. . . . When I knew her back then, she was your standard-issue Upper West Side liberal; absolutely archetypal. But now, out of nowhere, she immediately starts tossing out weird Obama fantasies from the extreme left – “he’s a secret Republican, he’s a secret fascist, he wants to destroy Social Security, he wants to eliminate public education, he wants to ruin everything we’ve ever achieved, he’s a monster”….etc., etc. I couldn’t get away from this woman fast enough.

Sunday, my friend Kitty and I take the ferry to Ellis Island for a tour. On the boat, we find ourselves surrounded by perhaps a hundred middle-aged-to-elderly yeshiva women, all dressed in black, all wearing sheidels. These ladies are talking about Obama, in terms that are nothing short of extreme hatred: “He’s a monster! He’s destroying this country, tearing it apart! My mother was in the concentration camp, and she wept the night Obama was elected. She couldn’t believe what was happening. He’s going to take everything we have and give it to people who don’t deserve anything!” etc., etc. Then they actually talked about what if something “happened to Obama.” Their conclusion? “That would be awful. He’d be a martyr. It would be just like what happened after Kennedy. Remember, after Kennedy they passed all that worthless legislation that nobody wanted, and that’s what would happen with Obama. That would be worse than anything…”

What’s the matter with this country? I’m at the point of giving up.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Chuck. How does this differ from any other time in our history? I mean, someone actually did kill Kennedy -- and LOTS of people were happy about it. I think the better question is, What country did you think you were living in? (Possible answer: The Republic of the Upper West Side?) Politics is about incremental change. Are we better off than we were in 1963, say? If you're a woman or a black person (among many others), you bet. Are we a country filled with willfully ignorant idiots? You bet. Always were, and always will be.

KAZ said...

No. You're wrong. I'm with Chuck. Yes, we've always been crawling with willfully ignorant idiots, but they have FAR more power now than they used to, and the country is far more divided, fiscally, philosophically, even ethnically. We've just transferred (some of us) our hatred. The Know-Nothings are back in force, and all of them have better PR than our side does. What makes it worse is choosing "hope" over "fear" and then realizing, too late, that the REAL choice was "nothing."

Anonymous said...

No, YOU'RE wrong. Sorry. Actually, of course, we're both right. Our president (!) no longer has to drink from a different water fountain than you do, so don't tell me the Know Nothings have far more power now. The difference is that the ones who disagree with that position aren't just blacks and NY urban Jews -- it's well over half the country. Which creates a nice polarizing feel to the place, eh. And yes, those who'd like to see that time return ARE doing a great job of appearing "back in force", and yes because they have MUCH better PR. Why is that? I think that it's because our side chooses "despair" over both hope and fear. Which equals "do nothing", not nothing itself. Which gives the podium (and the gold medal) to the Know Nothings, who actually bother to kick and scream, and thus get all the attention (while the rest of us hold our heads and moan). To use another analogy -- Dems seem to have taken Ali's rope-a-dope strategy to heart. Let the other guys whack the heck out of them and hope they drop from exhaustion. Two problems with that method -- if you don't fight back (as Ali did, with brilliant force) you lose. And even if you do pummel your opponent and win a battle or two, eventually the technique gives you brain damage, and you lose the war.