olio

"How long do you have to get hit in the head before you start asking who's hitting you in the head?"

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Of piety, porn, and passivity

A man I once respected has recently begun clogging the inboxes of friends and relatives with two distinct types of email: fervent calls to religious action (in hopes of restoring morality and decency to our country) or vile, misogynistic “jokes” (accompanied by often grotesquely photoshopped photos). He sees no hypocrisy in these almost-daily missives—and he’s not likely to, because those of us who receive the emails merely delete them and say nothing. Who wants to cause trouble? He’s really a nice guy once you get to know him, we say, probably just having some marital difficulties, and eventually he’ll simply stop sending them, right?

So—what does the story above have to do with the state of the union, you ask? Well, in my opinion, everything.

Our country is that man. These days, we are a sublimely pious and vicious nation. We profess to care deeply about the poor, the sick, and the helpless, even as the number of poor, sick, and helpless Americans grows at an obscene rate. We speak with exalted words while simultaneously vilifying the Other in ways old (subjugation of women and legalized homophobia) and new (justification of torture and endless, bloody war).

But our country is that man’s friends and relatives, too. We don’t say anything. Who wants to get fired, or vandalized, or put on the no-fly list, or worse? We’re a great country, really, the greatest, we say, it’s probably just a phase, and eventually it’ll all sort itself out. Right?

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