Friday, October 08, 2004

 

There's no place like home - or is there?

We're becoming two countries. Not Democrat and Republican, not liberal and conservative, not rich and poor or black and white or North and South or East and West. Not worker and capitalist, service economy and industrial economy, not knowledge workers versus...ignorance workers? Hmm, not sure about that last.

No, what we are becoming is Americans who recognize there is a world out there and Americans who want to pretend there isn't, that we are (or at least really should be) all alone on the planet. Case in point: for the first time in my life, we have a president who actually cannot travel abroad. Even Reagan could command genuine respect in parts of the rest of the world, even among people who disliked some of his policies. But George W. Bush cannot show his face in an unguarded situation in Europe. He is a laughingstock across the planet.

Mention this to a Freeper, though, and you will probably be told, Big deal. Or so what? Or, who cares what they think in Old Europe. Or, well, at least he brought dignity and honor back to the White House. Compared to that creep Clinton.

I suppose telling them that Bill Clinton is revered in much of the world would not impress them. It might even reinforce their notion that Bill Clinton is the very epitome of evil.

I don't know how to dent this wall of insular smug ignorance and contempt. It seems to be a point of honor among the exteme right to parade their hostility to the rest of the world. Dick Armey once said he'd been to Europe once so he didn't need to go again. A right-winger of my acquaintance is blithely and blissfully unconcerned with the fact that he has been out of the USA twice, both times for trips to Canada. The notably incurious George W. Bush never traveled outside the USA for pleasure (and made damn sure he didn't have to leave the country on his country's service).

Granted, not all right-wingers are so scared of the outside world. The so-called neoconservatives certainly have some true international experience. They are America-Firsters but not America-Onliers. But they are the tail wagging the right-wing dog, or perhaps the leash currently tugging the dog along. They are not the dog itself, which is a real and really gruff watchdog that doesn't want to leave its home territory or even know that there is anything beyond home.

If they weren't the base of the Republican Party, it wouldn't matter so much. Noel Coward wrote a funny song called "Why Do The Wrong People Travel (While The Right People Stay Back Home)?" If they don't want to see this big beautiful world we live on, it makes things less crowded for the rest of us. But the insularity alarms me. I lived in Moscow in 1981-82 and made friends with a number of ordinary Soviet citizens. The one freedom they really wanted was the right to travel. They were deliberately kept ignorant by their government, but they knew there was a world out there and wished they could see it. Americans can go anywhere they want, and most of them don't give a damn. It's sad.
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I'm quite sure that many of the readers
of this blog are interested to read about

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