Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bashing those Americans for some reason

On Monday I lamented the state of American politics.  I got to thinking about how much I focus on the happenings of the nation to the south of me and considering whether I have been approaching my posts on the topic in the right way.  Obviously there are good reasons to focus on the US including but limited to their unmatched military might, their economic clout, the fact that their culture is similar enough to mine that I can understand them, and the sheer volume of information about them that hits the airwaves.  The big kid on the block also won't get much in the way of defenders since everyone likes to tear them down.  If I focused on trashing Kazakhstan, for example, people might be really confused but everybody expects me to rag on the US barring other information being available.

The thing that gets me so riled up is that the US has so much power in terms of information that isn't being used to make the world a better place.  If Canada does something terrible then people mostly don't hear about it but when the Yanks do the same thing it is splashed across the news worldwide.  That kind of exposure has immense power which can be used for good or ill and that is why when I see individuals refusing to use that power to make the world a better place it tears me up.  I look at the power Obama wields and desperately want him to use it to end assassinations, torture, unlawful imprisonment, spying on civilians, and war and when he does the opposite it kills me.  Harper on the other hand does plenty of terrible things but he lacks the influence to change the world and set an example for others to follow.  I can see a road to a better world and I want so much for those in the best position to push us along that road to take the opportunity.

So though talking about the US is quite reasonable I think I need to be more careful *how* I talk about them.  Trashing their political situation is going to go over easy because there are truly very few people who think that the US political system is doing everything right and that includes highly patriotic Americans.  I also like to slag their tendency to start wars with random nations across the world and although there are folks who would disagree with me on that point I really have no patience for their views - bombing the hell out of cities in poor countries isn't a valid strategic option, it is just evil.  On the other hand sometimes I paint the citizens of the US with a very broad stroke and that really isn't fair.  While there are plenty of people there who do support reprehensible policies there are also plenty who don't and are simply unable to change the status quo.  A random US citizen may decline to go to war in Iraq, they might even protest the war in Iraq, but they can't *stop* it from happening so it isn't fair to belittle them just because they were born on the other side of an invisible line from me.

It is difficult because inflammatory rhetoric and grandstanding is a great way to get attention and views.  The more careful and correct I am the less people care what I say.  This is why scientific reporting is such a mess:  Very few people want to read about margins of error and 'more study needed' as they really want to read about 'cancer is cured!' instead.  Being careful and correct is strongly correlated with being boring, sadly.

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