human behavior

Wake up America!

Posted in American Culture & Politics, Recommended Reading by humanb on October 31, 2009

Bob Herbert’s Changing the World drives home the most salient message in Michael Moore’s latest film. Moore may seem focused on demonizing capitalism, but the film is just as much a criticism of the American people – albeit with some notable exceptions. Note the opening remarks about Americans being distracted from what’s important, by what’s on television. Note the closing remarks about his fatigue at going it alone in the fight against America’s economic and social decline.

In Moore’s view, bankers and business do what bankers and business do, while most regular people do jack sh*t to take back their communities and rescue their country from decline.

Here’s Herbert:

Americans have tended to watch with a remarkable (I think frightening) degree of passivity as crises of all sorts have gripped the country and sent millions of lives into tailspins…. This passivity and sense of helplessness most likely stems from the refusal of so many Americans over the past few decades to acknowledge any sense of personal responsibility for the policies and choices that have led the country into such a dismal state of affairs, and to turn their backs on any real obligation to help others who were struggling…. Those chickens have come home to roost. Being an American has become a spectator sport. Most Americans watch the news the way you’d watch a ballgame, or a long-running television series, believing that they have no more control over important real-life events than a viewer would have over a … script for “Law & Order.”

One of the most fascinating aspects of the last presidential election was the explosion of online activity among regular people. I would spend ridiculous amounts of time reading the comment pages of blog posts and mainstream news articles to gauge the political opinions and feelings of voters across the country. Everyone was passionate, and no matter how much their political views differed – and boy did they differ – every commenter began or ended his diatribe with the same call to action:

Wake up America!

I thought it was funny then. A bunch of histrionic silliness.

I don’t now.

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