Country at War

The George Zimmerman verdict denotes a nation at a crossroads. Maybe we’ve already crossed some kind of line of demarcation. Post-racial America? Maybe if you’re a Beltway elite you think that. For those of us keeping score elsewhere, I contend we’re not at all.

While the Zimmerman trial garnered the lion’s share of coverage via the MSM, other news stories continued to trickle out.

Rolling Stone magazine, once the quintessential rock rag, featured Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev  on its recent cover. Predictably, the binary, black/white moralists were outraged, claiming that Rolling Stone “glamorized” Tsarnaev, giving him the “rock star” treatment. If you actually read the article, a nuanced, well-written piece by Janet Reitman, you might come away with the idea, like I did that circumstances and ideological persuasion can change people, turning docile, well-liked young men into cold-blooded killers.

I’ve been thinking about the inability of many to look at information objectively. I see a lot of people, some of them people that I went to school with and thought I knew, come out with the most outrageous stuff via social media. Their anger, their lack of sensitivity, as well as the pride they take in displaying their ignorance is discouraging. It shouldn’t surprise me, however.

A few months ago, a friend and I had beers on a Friday night in the town where we both grew up. As we reminisced about the “old days,” he shared his observations about our former hometown, a decaying mill town along the Androscoggin River. The way he framed the town; it’s history of being conservative, the hold that fundamentalist religion has had on the town since we were in school and ever since; these weren’t new, but it made me better understand why some of my former classmates hold some of the views that they do. It’s also why I no longer see the place through rose-colored glasses.

The big news today is that Detroit, the American metropolis that came to symbolize the automobile and Happy Motoring, is now bankrupt. What does it mean when a major American city goes belly up financially? It’s certainly not a positive sign, no matter how the media and the spin doctors try to position it.

When what was once the fourth-largest city in America, files for bankruptcy, it’s a bad omen. Detroit’s filing amounts to the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history in terms of debt—somewhere close to $20 billion.

So what does this mean for our empire called America?

Conservatives will surely have something to say, mainly that it’s due to our welfare cheats, liberal policies, regulation, blah, blah, blah. It’s all really predictable, really.

Taken together; Zimmerman, Tsarnaev, and Detroit’s bankruptcy; this trifecta surely signifies something that most will miss. See if you can figure it out for yourself.

I have been listening to the final studio album of X, the seminal Los Angeles punk band that helped me put aside my own ideological blinders I once donned as a follower of fundamentalist ideology. hey Zeus! came out in 1993. Some of the songs seem to have been written with today’s news headlines in mind, like this one, “Country at War.” The video’s a bit grainy as I can’t seem to find a video clip that syncs both the original video with a clear audio clip, but the song resonates with me (some bonus material, also).

I try to love this country, but it’s turned its back
On its sick and hungry, its tired and poor
This must be a country at war
This must be a country at war


8 thoughts on “Country at War

  1. Interesting blog, as always! What went wrong with the city that brought us Henry Ford, Ty Cobb, Al Kaline, Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Eminem, and the White Stripes? We lost our way, or rather, were led astray. Detroit workers invented the middle class. Union workers, black and white, rose out of poverty to own homes, cars, boats; sent their kids to college; supported a great music scene. Then the automobile management became obsessed with profits. They cut quality, cut costs, tried to drive out the unions, shipped jobs abroad. The result? Asian car makers, focusing on quality and paying a living wage, took over the car industry. Unemployment and wage inequality in Detroit led to white flight, crime, poverty. It’s more complicated than this, but the theme is there. Greed, an “I’ve got mine so who cares about you?” attitude, racism — it’s all connected. Poor Detroit. This is what happens when we choose profit over people.

  2. I keep thinking on the trifecta, and all I can come up with is the answer buried in your tags: binary thinking. All three of these subjects have set talking points, and you identify your own clan by reciting the talking points at others who recite them right back at you. You identify whom you oppose by their not reciting your talking points, but reciting others that are different than yours. In all cases, there is no real conversation going on, no rational discourse to the end of finding perhaps real common ground and root problems. None of the endless prattle on any of these subjects has to do with honesty engaging someone else, but all with loudly declaring one’s identity in one group or another.

    Thus we are divided, and thus we are conquered.

  3. Hey Loose,

    All of our “proper” subjects have “set talking points,” as you say.

    Divide and conquer is a very effective strategy. More than that, this division is heavily funded and has been, arguably, for the past 50 years.

    I find it interesting that most of the people I knew in high school have really embraced conservative ideology, Fox News talking points, and don’t have a problem at expressing their narrow views based upon those prescribed talking points. For them, the case is closed. At least that’s the takeaway I come up with when I see them through the prism of Facebook.

    All that’s left for us now is identity politics, which is a point that Hedges made in “Death of the Liberal Class.”

  4. I’m not sure Henry Ford represents the greatness of Detroit. He despised labor unions; Ford plants were the last of the automakers to agree to collective bargaining. He was an anti-Semite continued to supply parts and materials to the Germans during the second World War. His “assembly line” system of degrading human work and craft into boring parts continues to exist today in our air-conditioned intellectual sweatshops. Kunstler discusses it today.

    For those in Detroit, save the corner you’re on. For those everywhere else, save the corner you’re on. No one is coming to save us.

    • Good point. My who’s who list of Detroit celebs was intended to show just how far the city has fallen, but I should have been more judicious in the my choices. Ford was just one of the first names to come to mind, but I agree, he had some scumbag ideologies.

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