Tag Archives: Star Spangled Banner

Anti-Muslim sentiment in a post bin Laden USA

15 May
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shares a ...

Image via Wikipedia

Whoa, hello, back home again, seriously discombobulated with regard to day and night, and with a mind teeming with intense impressions. Whatever you think about the USA, it’s stimulating.

A few days ago two imams attempted to board a plane in Tennessee on their way to North Carolina. They went through three separate security searches, and then the pilot threw them off the flight. His reason? Other passengers complained that they felt uncomfortable  with the imams sharing their journey.

I saw the imams interviewed on the news. They were surprisingly affable, given their circumstances. Puzzled, confused, and a little hurt by the treatment they’d received, they explained they were on their way to a conference when their ordinary day turned surreal.

The airline involved eventually apologized to the imams, and they were conveyed to their destination. There is speculation that they will sue. It’s un-American not to.

There were a few people I felt uncomfortable with on my flight home but it never occurred to me to ask that they be thrown off. As they were Westerners not Muslims, it would likely have been me who’d been thrown off as a potential nutter if I’d objected to their behaviour, as opposed to their appearance.

All the while, street parties and celebrations continued over the death of Bin Laden. Relics of the Bush administration such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld seized the opportunity to resurrect themselves, and appeared on Fox News claiming credit for Bin Laden’s death on the grounds that if it had not been for their waterboarding of prisoners in Guantanamo and other places, Obama (have to be carful there, more than one TV commentator consistently confused Obama with Osama in his or her reportage) would not have been able to carry out the raid that took Osama out.

Ergo, they continued, torture is a good thing and it must be brought back. I was unaware that torture had been entirely dispensed with by the current administration.

Bellagio Fountains

On the day of Bin Laden’s death, the magnificent choreographed fountains at the Las Vegas Bellagio hotel danced to the Star Spangled Banner with cannonball explosions thrown in to create an effect derivative of the 1812 overture, as the water surged hundreds of feet into the clear blue desert air. It was spectacular, and people cried and cheered and hurled their two foot long margarita glasses into the lake in celebration while screaming “God bless America!”

The very next tune to issue forth from the fountains was, to my incredulous astonishment, Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli‘s version of Time to say Goodbye.  Make of that what you will, but it wasn’t irony. They don’t do irony in Las Vegas, all those simulacra representing Paris, Rome, Venice and Donald Trump‘s penis are not ironic. “It’s just like the Eiffel Tower!” I heard a French tourist exclaim as she wandered through the Paris Hotel casino, gazing up at a ceiling painted light blue with fluffy white French clouds floating around a construction imitative of the famed Parisian landmark, on her way to the slot machines. Nope. Definitely no irony.

After a great deal of careful thought, I’ve decided the choice of song was accidental and hugely funny, to me at least.

A few isolated and subsequently vilified public voices raised themselves in protest against the undesirability of “rooting for death”, even when it’s Bin Laden’s. However these traitors were speedily humiliated and silenced. A patriotic news analyst speculated as to why Bin Laden had no wall paper in his house, and wasn’t filmed sitting in a Lazy Boy recliner, both of which are middle class American icons. If Bin Laden was so important, his reasoning went,  how come he lived without what many Americans regard as essential items?

Speaking of Donald Trump, the world’s wealthiest bleached blonde mullet gave a foul mouthed speech at the Treasure Island Casino as part of his tilt at being a presidential candidate. The room spilled over with a certain type of Republican who responds to sentences peppered with expletives such as motherf***er, c**nt, etc. and demands that the US stop building hospitals and schools in Afghanistan because the bastards just blow them up, so why aren’t we building the mother f***ing schools in Brooklyn instead?  Trump received a standing ovation from the audience, which was obviously comprised of Republicans who believe that all a man needs to carry out the top job is the ability to accumulate obscene personal wealth. Surprising that with all that wealth, he doesn’t get his roots done, instead appearing in front of all those people looking like trailer trash.

I miss the channel that does back to back re-runs of Law and Order. I really, really do.

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Home of the brave

29 Apr
Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

So, now Obama has produced his birth certificate proving he was indeed born in the country.  America has a REAL  president, just like we have a REAL Julia.

Speaking generally, one of the striking differences about Australian and American attitudes to government is the undisguised fear and loathing many Americans feel towards  theirs. While in Australia we are bored, fed up with and cynical about politicians, we have a long way to go before we reach the dizzy heights of fear and loathing generated in the USA.

Though maybe the state of  loathing is approaching faster than I thought – driving down the US 95 this morning I had a sudden vision of Prime Minister Abbott, and it seemed so real I nearly ran right off  into the desert. How did those Labor dorks get it soooo wrong? They had everything going for them way back in 2007 and that alone is sufficient reason for Australians to chuck them out – talk about the squandering of social and political capital: you have to be totally ignorant and arrogant (worst possible combination) to achieve that degree of loss so fast.

 There’s many Americans who seem to believe that any government intitiative is a conspiracy to strip them of their treasured freedoms of the kind we in Australia don’t consider freedoms in the first place.  Health care reform, for example, is seen by some as a form of moral corruption – you should be able to take care of yourself, and if you can’t, you probably deserve to get sick and die, is the Darwinian/moral subtext of the unreasoning  fury directed against this particular reform. Like some of the anti abortionists who recently ripped into me on the Drum  – the health care reform antagonists are full of what everybody should do and entirely lacking in understanding of what people do do. They’re lost in fighting for the realisation of  Utopian visions of their perfect world in which there’s nobody in financial need, (because they’ve got rid of them all somehow) and nobody ever has an unplanned pregnancy, so we don’t have to have all these morally disturbing conflicts in the first place, freeing us up to thank Jesus and make money. Or whatever. In the meantime, the messy real world of real messy people keeps getting in their conservative way and resists, thankfully, all their strenuous efforts to repress it.

I’ve long considered US society to have perfected a form of socially acceptable begging, otherwise known as tipping. Your waiter, hairdresser, and other service providers are paid pitiful minimum wages, on the understanding that if they perform their duties well, they’ll be rewarded with a tip to bump up their remuneration to  a living wage or better.  As a consequence service providers are  excruciatingly nice to you, and everybody knows why. There’s that moral equation again: nice servers deserve great tips, even when they don’t really give a toss about you. Appearance is everything.  I don’t know what it does to an individual’s psyche to have to put on extravagant demonstrations of entirely manufactured concern ten hours a day five days a week, but it probably doesn’t leave a lot of time to think about politics and society. Maybe that’s it’s purpose. Hell, I’m becoming a conspiracy theorist.

I did watch Fair Game on the plane over. The movie about how there really weren’t any WMD’s.

 Yesterday I discovered my granddaughter sitting on the dunny with the sheet music of  Star Spangled Banner on the floor before her, practicing her part for the school choir. National pride is everything in schools, they pledge every morning with their hands on their hearts, under the flag. But don’t talk about politics when you’re invited to dinner. Better you should bring up sex, or even death, but if it’s death you choose  don’t say they  died, say they passed. They don’t care for died. It’s too crass.

 Where I come from you pass wind, and sometimes the salt.

As I listened to the child’s tuneless piping of the home of the brave and the land of the free, there  was a ruckus going on upstairs where a four year old was hanging out a bedroom window yelling “Yo! Watcha doin’ dumbass!” at a bunch of Mormons going door to door in our street, while his Momma hauled him in by the seat of his pants on his way to the naughty corner for a good fifteen minutes. Meantime down in the kitchen someone had  left the back door open and five sneaky chipmunks frolicked under the baby’s chair, cleaning up his leftovers and depositing a few of their own. There’s hardly a moment not filled with fun.

 As I sit here picking the chipmunk poop off my feet and reflecting for a few precious stolen  moments, I consider America.  Like Leonard Cohen says, I love the country but I can’t stand the scene. Democracy has not yet come to the USA, no sir, it certainly has not, so how they think they can export it to the Middle East is a mystery to me.

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