Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Myth Of America Becomes America

POP CULTURE IS US: It Makes Us As Smart As It Makes Us Stupid And It Gave Us Election 2008. (At Least) Three Thoughts About The Election Of Barack Obama.

by Polar Levine for Yankin' The Food Chain,

I feel pretty. I feel so cute. Cuddly-wuddly. Pristine. A baby's butt. I feel patriotic and it feels good to feel patriotic. Not a flag in the house and I don't care if we're USA-Number-One or USA-Number-Ten-With-a-Bullet. I'm just proud to be an American and that's realer than stuff.

What's more solidly amazing than the fact that Americans voted in record numbers to elect an African-American president is that, in the end, it made no difference what his ethnic or racial background was. It was almost a mundaneity. The man was perceived as the best for the job and so he was given the job. Common sense. What's all the fuss about?

A few years ago on a trip to São Paulo I spoke to a group of people, employing my very sloppy Portuguese, about 9/11 and how I co-founded a kids samba school in the neighborhood where the towers fell. During that trip I felt very self-conscious about being an American, realizing how rightly offensive this country had become to the rest of the world. I felt compelled to open my remarks with the disclaimer, "Não gosto de Bush" ("I don't like Bush.") and felt relieved by the ovation that followed. It's odd now to feel clean because I'm an American.

The entire human race appeared to be counting on us to elect Barack Obama. The enormity of that global hunger for a singular event made the idea of a McCain victory seem like a cosmic offense against the gravitational force of human history, the result of which might plunge humanity into a psychic black hole. They wanted an Obama victory in Europe, in the Muslim world, in Africa, Latin America, Indonesia and Japan. The reign of George W. Bush created a toxic human ecology so ubiquitous, palpable and identifiable that the antidote an Obama presidency could generate was irresistible.

I don't believe in magic but I believe the election of Barack Obama has created a rare historical moment for people to imagine the world moving toward the light and the USA will be able to lead the way. Symbolism aside (but not underestimated), more than any other American president Obama has the character, the intelligence and the bio to earn the respect and good will of the international community; an American president who has lived his life among "others" and has much of the world's blood flowing in his own veins. That makes him far more likely to instinctively understand the needs and the cultural dynamics that give a nation its form; and that understanding will allow us to interact without the arrogance and willful ignorance that has driven our foreign policy for so long. But our renewed international power will derive from a force more powerful than the abilities of Obama, the man. America, for the first time, will lead because of the undeniable and irresistible fact that the USA is a united collective of people representing every ethnicity and nationality on earth; we live together peacefully and we are exactly what we say we are. Have a look at our brochure. Looks pretty good? And you know it's the truth.

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