Our National Character

     Is there such a thing as national character?
     We’re in deep waters here from Step One, but as Dave Barry used to say, please remember that I don’t care.
     There is no question that if you or I (you go first) moved to Mexico, or to France, your new neighbors in Mexico would invite you into their home, and feed you, and hug you, far more quickly than your neighbors would in France.
     There is no question that the so-called “funny” T-shirt, “I’m With Stupid,” with an arrow, originated in the United States – not in China.
     These things may not be part of a national character. But they are a part of cultural practices – cultural norms.
     Personal insults have become part of the U.S. national character.
     These insults are taken far more lightly here than in any other country with which I am acquainted.
     To my shame, I have personal acquaintance with only about 14 other countries. When I am in those countries, I try to adapt my behavior to their expectations.
     I do not do this because I am ashamed of being an American.
     I do it to be polite.
     Look around the world today.
     Look at West Africa, ravaged by Ebola.
     Look at Ukraine, Russia and the Middle East, ravaged by war.
     Look at the brave students in Hong Kong, putting their lives on the line to challenge the fascist communist dictatorship of China.
     Look at Mexico, where the government is slaughtering its own people for a share of the drug trade.
     Then look at the United States, and ask yourself: What have we got to complain about?
     Just this week, a right-wing radio talk show host, whom I will not foul my mouth by naming, said on the airwaves that President Obama is deliberately bringing Ebola patients to the United States as part of his war upon white people.
     This moron told his audience of millions of people that the treasonous Obama “wants to infect the nation with Ebola,” and is sending the U.S. military to West Africa in the fervent hope that soldiers will contract Ebola and bring it back home.
     Also this week the New York Daily News told its 500,000 subscribers, in a giant front-page headline, that Chelsea Clinton had given birth to a “Liberal Crybaby.”
     I need not remind you, but I will, that Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show that he wanted to rape Chelsea Clinton in an elevator.
     Need I go on?
     I need not.
     That’s not humor.
     There is nothing funny about it.
     What’s wrong with our country?
     Limbaugh and his perverted ilk claim they are just entertainers.
     But in what other country would this be considered entertainment?
     If there is such as thing as a national character – and I believe that, within limits, there is – our national character today is narcissistic personality disorder: self-absorption as a protection against unconscious but powerful feelings of inadequacy.
     The definition comes from Eleanor Payson’s book, “The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists.”
     We’ve had this national personality disorder ever since we got our butts kicked in Vietnam.
     Germany used to have this problem.
     Israel has it today.
     We’ve got it too.
     It appears to be contagious.
     God help us all.

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