Americans think they know everything, but in some ways they are among the least educated people anywhere. Over the last twenty-four hours I have seen several incredible examples of shocking ignorance about the rest of the world. Our hubris causes us to believe that our children need know nothing about other cultures and other peoples other than “we are better.” As a result, they learn everything they know about the world from television sound bytes, many of which (this will shock some of you) are simply lies — just look at how much “the truth” can vary from network to network! Not all of them can be correct when they all contradict!
The truly scary thing, though, is how many of our children grow up believing they really know a lot about world history, cultures and events on the strength of these sound bytes, many of which become jumbled in their heads, mixing countries and traditions and problems into a lot of xenophobia and hate. There are college educated adults out there who have never had an academic-quality world history course or anthropology course. Most of them have had high school civics or high school world history, taught by Mr. Failure, the bitter, minimally educated, under-qualified high school teacher who was supposed to be teaching shop or art or whatever and is xenophobic and violently ethnocentric himself.
America is doomed. We are Rome — we think we are so great that we have a monopoly on morality and an invincibility that obviates the need for education, wisdom, moderation or pragmatism. As the generations progress, we are losing the ability to teach our children the truth because with each passing generation, fewer and fewer people know it. Yes, yes, I know, some will say that “truth” is manufactured by those who speak it and those who listen to what is spoken. So then, rhetorically, let me ask you: what sort of “truth” are we manufacturing these days in America? Nothing good.
I apologize to the rest of you, on behalf of the US. Not all of us are ignorant and not all of us want the rest of you dead. But those of us who are sane are quickly being rounded up by Ashcroft & co. My advice: run while you can, because it’s only a matter of time before America goes down in the books as an imperialist power with self-granted “moral authority” like WWII Germany & Japan.
The difference is that in post 9-11 America, I keep running into people who want to launch these imperial dreams with the nuclear button. People that I know well and people I don’t know at all are now willing to openly talk to me about the need for nuclear war. How did we forget every lesson learned over the last hundred years in the space of three months?