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Thread: America's Character

  1. #1
    Cyburbian nuovorecord's avatar
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    America's Character

    I didn't write the following, but it was posted on a listserv that I subscribe to and I found it very thought-provoking, so I'm sharing it with my fellow Cyburbians. What are your thoughts on this? Have we, as the writer suggests, lost our ability to pull together for the greater good and become self-indulgent narcissists? Or are things not as bad as they're portrayed here.

    According to my calculations, the number of days elapsed between the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor and Victory Over Japan Day is exactly the number of days elapsed between the attack on the World Trade Center and today, June 12.

    In that number of days World War II for the United States was fought. Within that time this country--while only half its current population--raised an armed force of six million; built 27 aircraft carriers and numberless other ships, built 100,000 tanks and 200,000 warplanes. In that time, the United States invaded territories across two oceans to defeated two enormous, brave and hyper-competent enemy militaries.

    In those days a bombed out aircraft carrier could be repaired and returned to action in 90 hours.

    And today? In Iraq, in all these years, we have been unable to deliver the cheap and simple armor plate that the Humvees need on their doors.

    Sobering, isn't it?

    That is not all. In those three-and-a-half years of WWII the United States sustained a WEEKLY average of fatalities approximately equal to the TOTAL number of American Dead in Iraq thus far. Indeed, there were single days and single actions in WWII where the dead were 5 times the Iraqi War total. The current whining is unseemly.

    The stoicism is gone. The competence is gone.

    The United States is not the country it once was. It has become lazy, directionless, indulgent, cowardly, disorganized--incapable of achieving anything at all, let alone anything heroic.

    I am beyond disgust with the utter and comprehensive b******t of the baby boom generation that brought us to this pass. And I am afraid too, because we no longer have the character as a nation to pull us through the coming Long Emergency that Kunstler describes.
    Personally, I agree with the author's basic assessment of the American condition these days. But I'm not certain that his defining of people's reaction to death counts in Iraq as "unseemly whining" is a reflection on our lack of gumption as it is a reflection on our collective uneasiness as to why we're in Iraq in the first place.

    Discuss.
    "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." - Bill Clinton.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Just a quick note, before I go back to work.

    Really I think there is no time to care or provide an effort to overcome our issues today. TRL is on in a couple of hours and that new Paris Hilton reality show premiers tonight. I think Oprah is giving away free stuff on her show today too.

    Really makes me sick, I could rant on but landscape inspections are calling me!
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  3. #3

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    The poster may certainly have a point. However, there has always been corruption, profiteering, etc during most war efforts. Read some of the hair-raising stories of the Civil War era and the profiteering, the disfunctional rifles, the uniforms that fell apart, the hiring by the elite of others to serve their draft, the anti-draft rioting, etc.

    There was a unique spirit during WWII that has not been present in all of our wars, not just this one. Today, there is deep cynicism among much of the population (including myself) about the aims of the current war-especialy in light of the horrific corruption and incompetence exhibited today. As the drumbeat intensifies for our NEXT war of conquest, this poisonous cynicism will continue to grow. http://empireburlesquenow.blogspot.com/

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Also Senator Truman ran an anti-war profiteering committee that was very successful during WWII. In WWII, may companies were driven into the ground trying to meet their obligations to the war effort. Some certainly did make money but it wasn't systematic. Part of that was because the entire US economy was turned into a (dare I say it?!) Communist-style command economy it was probably the largest top-down command economies ever successfully implemented.

    But the point of WWII was to win. The point of Bush's wars, like Vietnam and the 80s buildup of the cold war, was to make very influential people very rich. And heavy restrictions and congressional inquiries make it much more difficult to accomplish that goal.

  5. #5

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    Its fun to make fun of the boomers. But in this context, it is way off point, just as it would have been during the Viet Nam war when the boomers weren't in charge and all of the same accusations could have been made (perhaps even more so).

    A large part of the population knows that this war is unjust.

    As for our national character. Yes, one wonders. But I don't think its the people. I think it is the growing disconnect between what Christianity and Capitalism teach and what it actually takes to live in a world of social justice and good stewardship. We all know what needs to be changed - but we are pried apart by the essentially identical doctrines of individual salvation and the individual accumulation of wealth. Our sense that we are all in this together has eroded. Can it come back?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    I think it is the growing disconnect between what Christianity and Capitalism teach and what it actually takes to live in a world of social justice and good stewardship. We all know what needs to be changed - but we are pried apart by the essentially identical doctrines of individual salvation and the individual accumulation of wealth.
    Not to nitpick, but not all Christian religions teach individual salvation...

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Not to nitpick, but not all Christian religions teach individual salvation...
    Edit: Never mind. Despite my distaste for jordan's previously expressed belief that people should NOT have the right to choose their religion...

  8. #8
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    I'm not so sure that boomers deserve all the blame. They brought a revolution in social justice. They stopped an unnecessary war. They changed the political landscape from one of corporate conformity to one of creativity. They had good music. In response, the old folks who ran the country had them beaten, gassed, impressed into the military, and sent into Vietnam to die by the thousands. The old folks also tried to ruin the education system. But the boomers were kids and stood up. It's pretty amazing to go on a peace march and have American soldiers with machine guns lining the march route or police with riot gear and tear gas ready to do physical damage to hippies. There were tens of thousands ready to stand up. Boomers had some backbone back then.

    Now the boomers are the old folks, and I'm surprised the kids haven't found a cause or a voice. I am amazed at the number of young folks who are more like the 70 year old Republicans in the Vietnam Era. There isn't a lot of optimism or progressive thought in young people. There are a lot of good ways to address the issues facing the country -- and it's usually young and experimental thought that supports making progress. Not much of that now.

    There are still an amazing number of baby boomers (at least in norther California) who are opposed to the war, supportive of social justice, and ready to address environmental issues. Maybe it's the progressive boomers that can bring back some of the needed character.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian dobopoq's avatar
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    Pearl Harbor and 9-11 are somewhat comparable, but WWII and the current Iraq war are in no way comparable. We're fighting to install a leadership that echoes our political system in a country that is filled with an increasing % of the population that have lost family members due to the weapons of our military or the weapons we sold Saddam. Saddam had nothing to do with 9-11, had no nuclear devices, and was being successfully held in check.

    The Japanese were seeking to dominate continental East Asia, in much the same way the U.S. has dominated the Americas. The difference is that we took control before any other country was even close to being a close match. The Japanese were attempting to take control of countries that were already established powers, not to mention the fact that they sought to limit U.S. access to Pacific resources. The Nazi's were likewise imperializing all over Europe, with genocidal anti-Semitism.

    Now, we've replaced a cold war on communism with a war on terror. This time, we are clearly the ones who are imperializing. And once again, ethnocentric, theocratic sympathies have reared their ugly head in the form of anti-Arab sentiment. How soon we forget that it all happened many times before during the Crusades. We should thank the Arabs for giving us Algebra, and the number "0", which helped spur the rise of mercantilism and the Renaissance in Italy and then beyond. Without Algebra or the concept of "0", Descartes and Newton could not have made the scientific and philosophical breakthroughs that would facilitate the industrial revolution. The cold blooded murder of about 3,000 innocent American civilians on 9-11 in no way justifies the likely 100,000+ innocent Iraqi civilians we've killed since. We've always had Saddam. We sold him the weapons he gassed the Kurds with, and continued to sell him weapons after we already knew that he had done so.

    As much as I dislike Bush, I wouldn't take too kindly to another country if it were to kill 100,000 or more of my fellow Americans to forceably remove Bush from power. Would you? Is it any wonder why so many Iraqi's, and Arabs in general hate us? Of course this doesn't even mention the role that our oil-addiction plays in all of this.
    "The current American way of life is founded not just on motor transportation but on the religion of the motorcar, and the sacrifices that people are prepared to make for this religion stand outside the realm of rational criticism." -Lewis Mumford

  10. #10
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    In that time, the United States invaded territories across two oceans to defeated two enormous, brave and hyper-competent enemy militaries.
    I don't think that Americans alone can claim responsibility for this. They played an important role, but were not the only people fighting. Maybe if the Iraq War was a bit more ligitimate, there would be other countries, as well as other Americans, that would want to come together to achieve a common goal. It's not a question of younger people's will to accomplish goals. Not enough people even agree on what the goal is.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    With a "born on" date stamped on this Bear's backside of 8-28-48, I can give you a baby boomer's response to some of the key accusations in the article:

    Lazy
    Agreed. Folks in every generation are lazy. It's a lot easier (physically) to be alive in America now than it ever was. A lot of boomers would argue that the lazy ones are the young ones.....spoiled by modern living. "Why, in my day I walked four (4) miles through the snow, uphill, to school."

    Directionless
    Not quite. We have directions......many of them. Unfortunately, we often don't agree on those directions.

    Indulgent
    This is tied to "directionless", above. Right-wingers want to be lenient with those who violate environmental or tax laws and severely punish or prohibit people with alternative lifestyles. Left-wingers want to be lenient on criminals who commit the nastiest of crimes, because of "their family situation" or "their granddaddy's molesting them"......but severely punish or prohibit a corporation that wants to make a profit, etc.

    Cowardly
    IMHO, the men and women fighting a war that we may or may not agree with are showing no signs of cowardice. Is the country that sent them showing those signs? Not in my opinion. (This might be as close to a "might makes right" statement I have ever uttered. )

    Disorganized
    Don't think so. Good debate is as traditional as apple pie. Those fringes on both sides were there before......witness the trial just beginning of the 80-year old KKK guy.....

    Nostalgia is nice. I don't own a cell phone, but I understand its' convienence. I like hot and running water and am quite glad I don't have to wander out to the well and the outhouse. Microwaves give me more time for other things. Amazing medical advances (especially technology) have given me some additional years to bug you guys.

    Closing statement: This past weekend, the magazine insert that comes in the local newpaper had an article about the U. S. Navy Hospital Ship "Mercy". My complaint about the USA today would be that we don't do this sort of thing often enough.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

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