Monday, February 21, 2005

In Praise of (Some) Americans

by AJ/Skald

I do a lot of America bashing on this site (all deserved) but my visit to the States reminded me of things I love about the country.

Today's news in the Bangkok Post was another reminder: Hunter S. Thompson has killed himself. Thompson was one of the best and brightest of Americans-- a living icon of rebellion, autonomy, and life experimentation. Thompson embodied the (rapidly dying) wild side of America... the last vestiges of frontier spirit. He spit in the face of security. He spit in the face of authority. He defied the right-wing yahoos ferociously.

That is something I love about America..... that ferocious defiance in the face of authority. It is a quality that is all but dead.

Another aspect I love is the spirit of Do It Yourself. The DIY subculture is inspiring. Some Americans have the guts to say "Fuck being a wage slave". They freelance. They start their own businesses. They hit the open road. They make and distribute their own films. They publish their own zines. They record their own music, burn their own CDs, and sell their own albums. They publish their own books. They create their outlaw radio stations and alternative news outlets. I love that energy. I love Thoreau's self-reliant spirit. I love Kerouac's giddy restlessness. I love Hunter S. Thompson's radical defiance.

It is this love that powers my rage. I hate what the suits, the corporations, and the American Taliban have done to the country. I hate the Wal-Martinizing of America. I hate the sterility. I hate the fear of risk. I hate the suburbs. I hate the racism.

But I love the diversity. Herein lies America's greatest potential, if only they would embrace it. I love hyphens: African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Guatemalan-Americans, Chinese-Americans..... Gay-Americans, Straight-Americans, Bisexual-Americans,... Spanish speaking Americans, English speaking Americans...

The white good ole boys are terrified of this. Republican assholes stir up racial fears and homophobia. They encourage the scapegoating of immigrants. They bemoan the use of Spanish. But they are trying to suppress the greatest pool of potential available to the country.

God bless hyphenated Americans. They are the future-- and America's greatest hope!

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