A number of years back, Pauline Kael took Steven Spielberg to task for his depiction of rural Georgia circa 1909 in his movie, The Color Purple...averring that Spielberg's only field of reference seemed to be images culled from cinematic history, rendering his movie tone deaf regarding the rhythms and cadences of life during the era.
On a cultural level, a great many people in the US evince a similar, media-wrought shallowness of apprehension, and therefore are prone to a contemptible callowness, when faced with tragedy and human suffering. This trait, coupled with a toxic ignorance about the larger world, is an ugly thing to behold, and does not bode well for our collective destiny as a people.
What are the origins of these less than admirable characteristics? On a cultural and political level, due to the constant saturation and an attendant internalization of "free market" platitudes, sans a counter narrative of compassion and social awareness, many in the US experience acute cognitive dissonance when confronted by the demonstrable fact that the nation's much heralded tales of equal opportunity and class mobility are little more than the self-serving propaganda of a privileged few.
National character traits, such as these, display an always present, ever-vigilant, defiant ignorance -- a pride-ridden predilection best summed up, albeit inadvertently, by that stumble-mouth poet of the American spirit, George H. W. Bush. During a press conference in August of 1988, when he was asked a question regarding the recent downing of an Iranian passenger jet, killing 290 civilians onboard, by the US warship, USS Vincennes, Bush the Elder bandied, "I won't apologize for the United States. I don't care what the facts are."
A more subtle and compelling intelligence assessed the origin of such utterances with this: "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." - Albert Einstein
An additional aspect of this national obtuseness stems from a collective squeamishness, a revulsion and resultant denial, regarding the truth of the exponential rate of decay of US Empire. Of which, the knowledge is avoided for the same reason one avoids taking a stick and turning over days dead roadkill. Because it would be a mortifying sight to glimpse what is eating, from within, the putrefying remains of the carcass known as the US political system.
Apropos, for many of the progressive minded who went round-heeled for the shimmering promise of hope and change, pledged by Barack Obama, the fact of his betrayal is very painful and depressing to face. Exacerbating the situation is the mendacity and flat-out lunacy of his right wing adversaries -- including those spittle spraying prone legions of racist sub-cretins, out in the US spleenland, who refuse to accept Obama's legitimacy, as president, due to the problem they have accepting the darker shade of his skin pigment.
In this context, the siege mentality of Democratic partisans is understandable"but only to a degree. Ergo, recently, it has been revealed that the Obama administration's new Gitmo policy has a great deal of resemblance to the Bush administration's old Gitmo policy. So it seems, at last, we have found who has been concealed within that empty suit known as Barack Obama. Damn, if it isn't, George W. Bush. We should have taken Bush at his word -- never misunderestimate Dubya.
The bailout of Wall Street and the corporatist coup of the kleptocratic class in Madison, Wisconsin and the Obama administration's continuation of US foreign policy (i.e., the same, blood-soaked stupid empire tricks) as that of his predecessors, should serve as an object lesson and wakeup call to Democratic Party-promoting progressive types regarding whose interests the two parties of duopoly represent.
Moreover, the US public has been willfully ignorant, habitually self-centered, and so easily manipulated by the PR specialists of the corporate controlled state, for so long, they don't even know what a democratic republic is -- much less that they lost one.
With wages stagnant for more than thirty years now, it is maddening to hear economically besieged, debt-beholden members of the US middle and laboring classes, who, because they have had their heads up their corporate master's privileged rear ends for so long now, continue to convince themselves they're viewing the glens, glades and fruited bowers of a free market paradise.
The hand of the rightwing intellectual berserker cult of the Chicago School of Economics can be seen in this. At present, we're witnessing the entire repertoire of the neo-con clown school of misdirection and mendacity. What is unfolding is straight out of the Leo Strauss playbook for the intellectually bankrupt: First, employ a Reagan/Bush/Walker/ type manque', and have these ambulatory Pez Dispensers shower the public at large with candied covered "noble lies" i.e., promulgating faux populist sound bites serving to conceal the machinations of a corrupt elite, thereby ensuring the retention and expansion of elitist power.
The fairness-phobic and freedom-defying tendencies of these sorts of toxic alliances are woven into the very DNA of contemporary conservatism and have left their adherents devoid of a compass of common sense and civic responsibility.
Again and again, I'm astonished to witness the manner that US citizens mistake this smoke and mirrors casuistry for a political mandate. Over the last three decades, anyone (who has been even nominally conscious) can see how destructive to the health and well-being of the general population of the nation, conservative, "market-driven" economic dominance has been. And how the cynical manipulation of factions within the Republican base, comprised of Christ fantasists and states' rights fetishists, by the neo-con and corporate wing of the so-called "conservative movement," have weaken both the civil libertarian contract of government and its social safety net obligations to its citizenry almost to the breaking point.
The Koch Brothers and their quisling, Governor Walker, are an object lesson in this personal pathology being played out as public tragedy.