Americans are paranoid. Not all of them, not even a majority of them, but some of them to the point where they very often make really odd statements. Why is this?
Part of the reason is historical. The United States really was being discriminated against economically by England. The English was harvesting the wealth of the Thirteen Colonies. It finally got so bad that the Thirteen Colonies rebelled, eventually winning their freedom, and the United States was born.
After the successful revolution, British actions towards it’s one-time colony weren’t always nice. British warships had a policy of pulling over American trading ships, and press-ganging their crewmen.
When the United States started a war to conquer Canada, the Canadians and British had the audacity to fight back. Even more embarrassing, a lot of the Northern States really didn’t want to be involved, and sabotaged things when they could, and when they couldn’t sabotage them, they tried not to raise troops. Heck, if they had, they would have been fighting their own relatives. There was a lot of marriage across the border. Still is. The Southern States felt betrayed by the Northerners. The Northerners felt betrayed by the Federal Government and the Southerners.
Finally, Canadian, British, and other troops landed, and in a raid burning a good bit of Washington to the ground. Having your capital burned to the ground is not going to do your self-esteem a lot of good. Britain and Canada won the war.
Remember, the aim of the United States was to conquer Canada, and Canada’s aim was to survive, which we did. This started the U.S. support for the Fenians, with the aim of destabilizing Canada, those dirty Royalists.
Many of the early groups which formed the Thirteen Colonies, emigrated to North America because there were being persecuted back home, usually for religious reasons. Anyone who wasn’t of their religion was an Outsider.
The major sects, the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Church (called Episcopalian in USA), were regarded with suspicion. After all, back in Germany, England, France, etc. these were the churches that had been doing the persecuting, causing the Pilgrims and other groups to emigrate.
But the early United States had extremely porous borders, and was underpopulated. So lots of Irish, Italians, and other undesirables (from the point of view of the early religious arrivals) also emigrated. Lots of Outsiders.
This lead to interesting problems, like the furor over a Catholic, John F. Kennedy running for the Presidency in 1959, which is much like the furor about Mit Romney, a Mormon, running for the Presidency.
God knows what they’d do if an Atheist ran for President.
Why does this matter in 2012?
Think of some of the issues that cost Romney the election:
- Woman’s Reproductive Rights
- LGBT Rights
- Black and Hispanic Rights
- Woman’s right to equal pay for equal work
There were a lot of other reasons, but consider only the above. Notice the common theme?
For a long time the Republican Party has been run in part, if not in toto by the so called “Religious Right.” Their main concerns are “Social Issues.” In simple terms they want the United States to be governed according to their understanding of the Bible.
But which bible? They aren’t sure. Some like one, others another. That’s why Bible Gateway has over one hundred bibles online.
They believe that they can impose their religion’s precepts on others by using the Government to do it for them. It doesn’t matter that the Constitution says:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Note that those are the only TWO mentions of religion in the Constitution, and they limit the ability of the Government to interfere with religious practices. The words GOD and CHURCH do not appear anywhere in the Constitution.
Consider the Federal Defence of Marriage Act. One of it’s purposes, is to make sure that churches aren’t forced to celebrate Same-Sex Marriages.
But what about those churches who wish to, and have been celebrating Same-Sex Marriages? The Government has no Constitutional Right to stop them from doing so, which means that DOMA is not legal.
For that matter consider Mitt Romney, a Mormon. The LDS Church may not be supportive of Same-Sex Marriage, but it is supportive of the LGBT community. Church authorities often meet with the Utah LGBT community, and backed a statue in Utah barring landlords from discriminating against LGBT tenants.
The Articles of Faith are very important to Mormons, laying out their core beliefs. Number 11 reads:
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
If another church wishes to celebrate Same-Sex Marriages, LDS beliefs are that they have the right to do so. Mitt Romney had to have been conflicted in the Primaries, where the other candidates ended up pushing him to the far socially, far right, because actually passing a Constitutional Amendment to limit the religious practices of other religions would conflict with his basic beliefs.
There are a lot of churches who celebrate Same-Sex Marriages. According to the Constitution they have that right.
The Real Whackos
How about this:
How about The Pirate Bay, where things are pretty uncensored.
Uploaded 08-26 06:55, Size 1.77 MiB, ULed by lohlocke40
Uploaded 12-18 2011, Size 254.64 KiB, ULed by Oromia30
Uploaded 04-27 2011, Size 512.06 KiB, ULed by kwrxxx00
Uploaded 05-16 2010, Size 489.78 KiB, ULed by oracle_omaha21
Uploaded 03-31 2009, Size 2.73 MiB, ULed by cde010
I didn’t edit the list, so you get some pro, and some anti listings. The search was done on the “Other” column for Obama’s last name.
There’s always going to be people who are upset that their candidate didn’t win. You should have heard some of the stuff said about Stephen Harper after our last election. But it never went to this level, even though there are a lot of people who REALLY don’t like him, just as there were a lot of people who didn’t like Jean Chretien, Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, and so on, in there time in office.
American politics tends to be wildly polarized compared to Canadian politics. I can’t think of any equivalent to Ann Coulter’s “It’s hopeless” moment on the Laura Ingraham show that has happened here.
What can be done?
Good question. I’m playing guessing games here, because I’m not a psychologist, sociologist, or political scientist. I have travelled extensively through most of the lower 48 states, and have talked to a lot of people from all walks of life, and here’s my takeaway.
Americans aren’t stupid. No stupider than Canadians, English, French, or any other nationality.
They just don’t know a lot of things. In fact the best description I can come up with, is that they are innocent. Expose them to outside knowledge, and they soak it up like sponges. In other words, they seem to be under-educated to me.
People I know who have moved back and forth over the Canadian-US border while in school have confirmed this for me. In the United States they were at least a grade ahead, and this included one young lady with a learning disability, who had problems in Canadian schools, but said that American schools were “simple”.
I’ve also talked to a lot of Europeans. They’ve noticed the same thing with the American school system, it doesn’t teach the same depth of courses as either the European or Canadian systems do.
Exactly why this is I don’t know. I’m guessing that the curriculum needs improvement, but I’m not an educational expert.
Would it improve things if education in the United States was more rigorous?
I think it would. But this is a long term solution. Courses would have to be modified starting in Grade One, and you wouldn’t see the results for another twenty years. This assumes that I’m right, and I don’t know that I am.
I do know that I don’t want to hear one more time that Obama is a:
or any variation on the above.
Saturday November 10, 2012