Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Disneyfication of America

It's much easier to understand the bizarre antics of our cousins to the south when you realize they're not on the same page as the rest of the world.  In fact, they're not even on the same book.   The thing is, it's not funny.   It's potentially quite dangerous - to them and to everyone else.

Retired US Army colonel turned free thinker, professor Andrew J. Bacevich writes, in this month's Harper's magazine, about the dangerous "Disneyfication" of the way Americans have come to understand their country and the world.

"The ;Disneyfication' of World War II...  finds its counterpart in the Disneyfication of the Cold War, reduced in popular imagination and the halls of Congress to Ronald Reagan's demanding 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!'   The Soviet leader meekly complied, and freedom erupted across Europe.   Facts that complicate this story... ultimately get filed under the heading of Things That Don't Really Matter.   The Ike Americans like even today is the one who kept the Soviets at bay while presiding  over eight years of peace and prosperity.   The other Ike - the one who unleashed the CIA on Iran and Guatemala, refused to let the Vietnamese exercise their right to self-determination in 1956, and ignored the plight of Hungarians who, taking seriously Washington's rhetoric of liberation,rose up to throw off the yoke of Soviet power remains far less well known...

Self-serving mendacities - that the attacks of September 11, 2001, reprising those of December 7, 1949, 'came out of nowhere' to strike an innocent nation - don't enhance the safety and well being of the American people.  To further indulge old illusions of the United States presiding over and directing the course of history will not only impede the ability of Americans to understand the world and themselves but may well pose a positive danger to both.  ...Only by jettisoning the American Century and the illusions to which it gives rise will the self-knowledge and self-understanding that Americans urgently require become a possibility.   Whether Americans will grasp the opportunity that beckons is another matter."

Yet so many Americans remain in thrall to their fantasies.  It's the capacity for delusion that fuels the successes of outrageous charlatans like Newt Gingrich.   Conditioning a people to embrace a powerfully manipulated and skewed perception of themselves and everyone else has been the stock in trade of every tyrant from Adolf Hitler on down.   It is the precursor to villanies.

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