The Post-American Century

While I did not fully appreciate the statement at the time, I believe Hunter S. Thompson may well have been right when claiming that the 21st century is “the post-American century” in Kingdom of Fear. As James Carroll points out in his article “The Pentagon Prayer Fight,” a source I cited in my previous post, many religious “great awakenings” happen in times of crisis, and for a surprisingly large number of Americans it appears the election of Barack Obama has prompted such a crisis. The number of militias and far-right groups is on the rise, many of them claiming that they are ready to “take this nation back.” For a nation that has been predominantly controlled by older, white Americans, a black president is a drastic, perhaps frightening change, and, like in physics, every action has a reaction. Instead of accepting this change, many are trying their best to do the opposite: rumors are started that Obama is not actually an American, but a Kenyan; his Christian faith, a must for any successful American politician, is called into question with attacks on his former minister and claims that he is “a secret Muslim”; while Medicare and Medicaid are accepted as American, any move by Obama to overhaul healthcare and offer a public option is labeled socialist; and the list continues. While America still has a large role to play in the world, somewhat diminishing Thompson’s claim, this nation is changing — it is no longer the America of yesteryear, and this fact, this redefinition of the role America will play at home and abroad appears to have inspired a backlash, a resurgence of so-called ‘traditional Americanism’: gun ownership, values voting, etc.

Things have not been going as well for America this last decade as we are used to: we were attacked on 9/11, taken by surprise just as with Pearl Harbor; we are engaged in two lengthy, unpopular, and controversial wars that our troops will probably exit without a true sense of victory or that American involvement did more good than harm; the economy tanked, and while we are apparently “recovering,” many who lost their jobs have not yet found new employment; Detroit, the once gleaming hub of the automotive industry, is now a cesspit of crime and dilapidation; and our national debt has a disgusting number of zeros attached to it, an issue that both parties feel the other is almost solely to blame for. The glimmer of the 1980s and 90s has disintegrated: “Greed is good” nearly maimed Wall Street; the McMansions we were all told we could afford are now being foreclosed on; the glorious beacon of Freedom and Prosperity that many believed this nation to be has dimmed somewhat.

Perhaps this is merely a moment in flux, a transient phase, a calm before the coming storm. In any case, the ideas of what America is and what an American should be are being called into question. The answer has never been clear — what exactly connects the disparate American experiences of a young black woman from New York City, a Native American living on a reservation, a Hispanic immigrant living in California, and a middle-aged white man from rural Oklahoma? — but more people seem to have answers these days than ever before, and these answers seem to stem from ideas of what an American is not. We have gun-wielding protestors at Second Amendment rallies across the water from D.C., placard waving citizens at Tea Party gatherings, Confederate history month (that didn’t initially acknowledge slavery), Thomas Jefferson being removed from American history lessons, talking heads and radio personalities telling alleged anti-American individuals to find a new country of residence, and so on. I can understand the need to grab onto something concrete when so much appears in transition, but what is being held onto by some — guns, Bibles, dark moments in our history, and half-bright readings of the Constitution — suggests that America is not a melting pot or a convergence point for advancement and innovation, but a stagnant moment in time, one that passed years ago.

America has always been a country where anyone with enough grit and determination can make something of themselves. That is the promise of the American Dream, it is why so many come to this country. This fact seems lost somewhat today. While I understand that Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and the more extreme factions of the far-right resurgence don’t speak for everyone, their message is being heard loud and clear. I worry that these messages will rend the fabric of America, a nation that includes, not excludes; that rides of the waves of change and is not drowned under them.

22 Responses to “The Post-American Century”
  1. b.crusherman says:

    I believe if you really did listen to the “conservative talking heads” you would see they are very inclucsive. Conservatives want equal justice as opposed to social justice. Make free speech really free, not just what the Libbs want to hear. Conservatives don’t want to be shut out anymore…..or go with the flow ….. or just play nice. The Constitution of These United States is the law. The Left dodges and perries at every oportunity to circumvent the Constitution (ie Health Care) . Medicare and Medicade , or even Social Security are NOT accepted in the American tradition. Big government is not what the American dream was built on. Only in the past hundred years has that found a foot hold. Big Government can and will take every kind of freedom we have if not stopped. Human freedom….. freedom to fail….. freedom to succeed. Big government …. comunnist, royals, dictators, democrocies…… the haves will have and have nots won’t. The American dream allows the have nots a chance to have and build something. Big government stiffles freedom.

  2. b.crusherman says:
    Well, if this continues, we may find ourselves in your post American world.

  3. b.crusherman says:

    Progessives could ruin our lives as, we know ……. Very intresting…scary.

  4. b.crusherman says:

    So maybe we go down the “Swedish” style socialist system…… maybe not! Give to much power to any government and this is what you will get. Sweden…. Blaaaa!

  5. b.crusherman says:

    Oh, I found what we were talking about. “Any nation that severely restricts the ability of parents to choose alternative forms of education, including home education, in the name of creating national unity, cannot call itself a free nation. Freedom necessarily requires the individual to have the liberty to think differently and believe differently than programs instituted by the current rulers of any nation. Educational freedom is the cornerstone for all freedom of thought and conscience,” he said.
    By the way this is a great quote…… learn it, live it, fight for it.

  6. b.crusherman says:

    More like “1984” Did you really vote for this? Is this hope and change. How ’bout that speech last night?

  7. b.crusherman says: More and more we see the current regime for what it truly is, or will be if we allow it.

  8. b.crusherman says:

    Another layer of government to smother our liberty! People must rise up against these socialists. November cannot come too soon.

  9. b.crusherman says:

    Wow here is a great indication of how long our Constitution has been under attack, and unless We the People are willing to be Patriots, study history, be personally responsible, speak up and speak out (old Hippies used to say this back in the day) then your sad prediction about this country could come to past.,2933,595263,00.html
    Maybe you need a little grit, and look into what really makes us Americans.

  10. b.crusherman says:

    OMG! You all must be on DRUGS! This is totally disgusting! How can YOU LIBs stand up for this? You are corrupt.
    If you can somehow support this loon, then there is no F@$%ing hope for your DEMS. or you. Please learn your history, please learn some economic….. get away from the TV! This guy is the poster child for socialism and your REP.

  11. b.crusherman says:

    1984 double speak. You are corrupt….. the Unions are in on the socialist agenda. How can we stand for this.

    YOU MUST OPEN YOUR EYES…..and start using your pen.

  12. b.crusherman says:

    Well if the economy does not hit bottom this year, you libs sure will “kick it in the nads” in 2011 !
    ….but the elites will still have theirs…. wow the socialist drive to destroy this nation cannot be denied… will the voices, the hands of freedom make a come back? Where is your voice ….boy……

  13. b.crusherman says:

    Of course porn sites are ok…… WTF?

  14. b.crusherman says: Oh boy, yet another Marxist Czar from Obama the chief Marxist. Is Obama getting his education from Chavez?? You best start writing somthing to support your presidential/party choice. Can stealing be justified? Take from the successful and give to the rest. This is not the Democrat Party anymore, it is …. prove me wrong, it is a socialist regime. He would be a dictator if he can….. just have to find the right crisis. OR is Obama just so incompetent that he cannot handle his job, it is tough for someone with NO Executive experience, a community organizer….. Man I miss “W”. Where is Sarah…… someone WITH experience!

  15. b.crusherman says:

    George Orwell… 1984…. Big Brother……ever read this book? Tranny… nothing less. It starts as “we are just trying to protect business”…. protect the children ….. Liberty is the light…. close down government.

  16. b.crusherman says:

    “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother, He loved the Obama.”

  17. b.crusherman says:

    This is typical elitist outlook on governing.

  18. b.crusherman says:

    Here is a perfect example of “social justice” as opposed to equal justice. How often is this happening?

  19. b.crusherman says:

    That last bit of information turned out to be false. Shame on me and everyone who went after her! Just goes to show you….. check the source and then check again.

  20. b.crusherman says:

    Change our direction now!

  21. b.crusherman says:

    Hmmm ….wow, Swedish healthcare? Now we are going down that road? Funny how you find things ……

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