There are many opinions on what constitutes personality, but it can generally be considered to be the particular combination of emotional, attitudinal, and behavioral response patterns of an individual, and in fact, can be attributed to a nation in certain circumstances. People from around the world typically have two distinct opinions about America; on one hand, it is the government and its policies that many foreign people either love or hate, and on the other hand, it is the American people that define America. For the most part, the American people are good, decent folks whose primary focus is, like most human beings, taking care of their families and living peaceably, but there is a loud, very vocal segment of the population intent on imposing their dysfunctional worldview borne out of their belief that Americans are exceptional and infallible according to god’s holy dispensation, and it provokes them to disregard the rights and autonomy of individual citizens and foreign governments alike, and it is just one reason America suffers from personality disorder.
There were two specific events over the past week that highlight why Americans are not all exceptional, and it is on account of intolerance for dissent and belief that an American’s will supersedes that of a sovereign nation. To be clear, this is not an indictment of all Americans, but it does impugn a mindset in this country that hypocrisy and double-standards are part of Americans’ personality. The outrage over a television personality’s criticism of America’s love affair with guns instigated a movement to deport him, and a sovereign nation’s law restricting American’s from adopting their children incited a condemnatory statement from the State Department after complaints from irate childless American citizens.
One of the hallmarks of so-called hard-right “patriots” is their immutable adherence to the Constitution and all of its tenets, and yet they reserve the most important right, that of free speech, for themselves. After the tragic massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, television personality Piers Morgan spoke out against the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment and the Wild West mentality of many of its supporters, and because he was exercising the Constitutional right of free speech, a phalanx of patriots demanded his immediate deportation for expressing his opinion.
This is not a rare occurrence, or something reserved for British television hosts. This column’s author fields on average 10 to 15 death threats per week from uber-patriots and evangelical fanatics for expressing an opinion that does not comport with their vision of America, and the irony is that each threat of violence is related to an alleged attack on their Constitutional rights. There is a reason the Founding Fathers gave freedom of religion, speech, and the press the top spot in the Bill of Rights, and that they did not make them conditional on agreeing with conservatives, because the idea of “freedom” is not conditional, at least not in a free society like America. Still, conservatives have set conditions on speech dependent on whether or not one agrees with their views on guns and religion, and it has come to define America’s personality as intolerant and spreads the message that speech is not free if it is anti-gun or anti-god.
Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning the adoption of Russian orphans by U.S. families as retaliation for the Sergei Magnitsky Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama which imposed sanctions on Russian officials allegedly involved in the death of a whistle-blower. The reason for the ban is irrelevant because as a sovereign nation, Russia has the right to self-governance irrespective of childless Americans’ wishes or belief their rights supersede a foreign government’s internal affairs. The incident highlighted many Americans’ belief that their individual wishes override all others, foreign or domestic, and it portrays all Americans in a selfish, arrogant, and entitled light that has become the overriding personality trait of this country’s people. It is true of gun rights activists, religious liberty fanatics, anti-government maniacs, and bigots of all shapes and sizes, and it is on display for the entire world to see. It is a travesty that all Americans are portrayed as self-indulgent and entitled, because it is not an accurate characterization of the American people, but it is the one that the world sees more than any other.
Americans are basically good people, but there is this belief borne of selfish motivation that fairness and equality are reserved for a specific segment of society, and they are not reticent to restrict the rights of others, foreign or domestic, in pursuit of their own wishes that transcends freedom of speech, religion, or gun rights. It is prevalent in Republican politics that despite the will of the people, a small contingent of anti-tax activists will hold the economy hostage to protect the rich, and religious extremists will dictate when women have children, who can marry, or whether or not the bible is the law of the land.
This country cannot continue as a democracy, or world leader, as long as a few extremists dictate their will on every American. It is unclear exactly why or when many Americans began believing providence granted them dictatorial rights of who is entitled to Constitutional freedom of speech, or which sovereign nation’s laws a are acceptable to Americans, but it is becoming more prevalent every day and it is unfortunate that this country, clearly the greatest nation on Earth, is being characterized by the dregs of American society.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.