There’s been much moaning recently — some of it on this very site — about how stupid Americans are, this supposed stupidity being much in evidence after the Boston bombs went off, and the usual loons started tweeting their usual shit: Kill the Arabs, etc. etc.
Stupidity in others is an attractive explanation, particularly if you think you’re rather a clever fellow yourself. Of course this very fact renders it suspect as an hypothesis.
I don’t like this explanation. I don’t think we’re stupid. I think we’re kind of evil, really. And I think we’re evil mostly because we’re citizens of the Top Country, which is to say, soldiers in the garrison of the Death Star.
It’s not an intrinsic evil; we weren’t born evil, or at least not in this particular way. Nor is it a consciously, freely-chosen evil: I am determined to prove a villain, as old Dick Crookback observes somewhere. No, it’s a path-of-least-resistance evil; and really, nobody can be blamed for taking that path.
An evil you can’t blame people for? Isn’t that ‘kind of an oxymoron’, as I was once asked by some pretentious film-school bore, sporting what Rabelais calls a ‘great buggerly beard’, after I had produced what I thought was a rather Wildean paradox.
Well yes, asshole, in a word, it is. Kind of. Which just goes to show that at least one is not entirely on the wrong track. Once everything starts to fall out nicely from first principles, you can be sure you’ve gone off the rails.
We’re a bad bunch, we Amurricans, in many ways. Most of all, we’ve been compromised by our buy-in to the imperial idea.
The kill-em-all crowd are a small, particularly crazed minority; most of us would want to stop short of that — maybe it would suffice just to decimate them all. The Lesser Evil!
But I think we all have that brain-bug in our heads. It’s almost an everyday incident to meet some personable, kind, even heroic American individual — somebody who’s supporting a Down syndrome kid and a mom with Alzheimer’s, and who still somehow finds a way to walk the world with a smile on his face and a ready capacity for companionable mirth.
But when the conversation turns, in spite of all your efforts, to the towelheads — then the evil comes out. It’s not usually ‘kill ’em all’ — not quite — but the killer impulse is distinctly present.
There’s a coarse old joke, which I’ve always thought explains a lot:
Q: Why does a dog lick his own balls?
A: Because a dog can lick his own balls.