Idle Worship

Punkass Marc has a great post on American’s worship of the false idol of opportunity, which ends with this:

The myth of opportunity teaches Americans lessons like “if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying,” and “you can’t win if you don’t take a shortcut around everyone else.” It paints us as one another’s adversary in the struggle to acquire as much as possible. Naturally, these myths are told by the people who already have what we want and, like the lessons they teach, will do anything they can to keep it.

The result is a culture feverishly worshipping a god via a belief system working overtime to kill it.
A culture, of course, that is central to the movement conservatism whose architects and most fervent adherents are wielding the murderous blows, who respond to progressives’ challenges to their gossamer promises of inevitable success if only you try by accusing us of enabling the poor and, in an invocation of their explanation for any of our policies and beliefs, of hating America. It is a charge that rankles me to my very bones, and I can only say once more what I’ve said before, and will probably say again, because I just can’t say it enough:

Conservatives love to babble about how progressives “hate America.” I don’t hate America—but I do hate certain things about America. I hate its promotion of avarice above social conscience, its fascination with wealth, its disdain of compassion for the weak, its delight in ignorance, its xenophobic nationalism, the immutable beliefs among so many of its citizens that the markets solve everything, that this country is the Almighty’s gift to the world, especially when it’s a still a really shitty place to live for lots of struggling people, that those people are always, only, to blame for their troubles, and that there’s something wrong with the rest of us who don’t wrap our hands around the throat of American Dream and wring every last bit of life out of it to our own benefit.

I hate that the idea that some of us could do with a little less so that others could have a little more has become a punchline.

Bush, and his administration, and his most enthusiastic supporters, represent all of it, even though they patently refuse to own up to it, instead calling us America-haters, wrapping themselves in the flag, and declaring themselves the True Patriots, so it’s all but impossible for someone like me to express my abhorrence of them without seemingly attacking America itself, so it’s easier for them to do what they really want to do—turn America into a place I really, genuinely do hate, by ridding it of everything that I love.

Because there are things I love about this country. I love that it is a beautiful mosiac of people and cultures and ideas; I love its landscapes; I love its spirit of adventure and innovation; I love that it produces some of the most generous and unique people on the planet; I love its humor; I love that it really does have the potential to be a land of opporunity for everyone, if we really gave that notion half the chance it deserved.

And those are precisely the things the Bush Brigade endeavors to crush, turning America into a nation where everyone who is not blandly, mindlessly like its self-appointed True Patriots are de facto threatening, where the natural and philsophical resources are raped and destroyed in the acquisition of more wealth, where philanthropy and empathy are relegated to little more than cute, clichéd memories, where the barrel-chested barons of a new Gilded Age stand astride the bodies of those who have been condemned to less fortunate fates, singing the praises of social Darwinism and bellowing about the superfluity of a social safety net. “The government never gave me anything!” they declare, as they deposit their million-dollar checks from their latest no-bid Defense Department contract then head off to Tiffany’s to get The Little Woman a bauble with their fat tax return.

They’re a truly disgusting lot. And the next time one of them has the temerity to accuse me of hating America, I’m going to tell them flat out, “No, I don’t hate America. I hate you.”

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