In a recent episode of Futurama, the professor is faced with a group protesting the teaching of evolution in school. The protest is lead by an orangutan, Dr. Banjo, who claims that if evolution (which is just a theory “like gravity or the shape of the Earth”) were fact, there would be no ‘missing link’ between ape and human, whereupon Dr. Farnsworth lists every connection between ape and human save one.
After losing the argument because it’s very difficult to argue facts against ignorance and stupidity, Dr. Farnsworth declares “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore,” and he takes his toys and leaves.
With the on-going anti-gay rants being used in an increasingly thinly-veiled attempt to “save marriage” from the ravages of people who want to get married to each other because they’re in love, all we can say to Dr. Farnsworth is “we know the feeling.”
It isn’t that we don’t want to argue the finer points of equal rights and why ‘separate but equal’ is still ‘separate’ and therefore makes one group of people legally and demonstrably inferior to another (usually larger and more vocal) group. The bigger picture that’s now being painted across the face of the United States, the picture painted with broad and colorful strokes of religious intolerance and racist jargon and threats of violence, is growing increasingly sad and depressing. That picture, which depicts the struggle for control and power in this country, illustrates that the population, or at least the part of the population who likes to yell, whine, cry, scream and rant about the fake problems they think are causing their hard lives to be so much harder – which we would argue, if we could and if anyone would listen, stem from a lack of education, the continuing problem of poverty and the growing disparity between the haves and the have-nots, mostly due to the fact that the haves are using their money to distract the have-nots from real problems and make them think their lives would be much better if immigrants or gays or some other group of people were eliminated or imprisoned or something like that – that the population isn’t interested at all in making things better for everyone. That population is only interested in themselves and what they believe is best for them.
This is where America is headed, and the tracks are slick and fast. America is headed into a kind of head-in-the-sand defeatism with closed doors and raised fences and partitions constructed to enforce an us versus them mentality that pushes people out of the boat rather than helping them into it to save them from drowning. That America, which is supported by the Tea Party and Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck and Fox News and a growing insurgence of loud-mouthed idiots who couldn’t construct a cogent sentence if their lives depended on it (at least without writing a few crib notes on their palms first) is, we feel, winning the war.
How are they doing it? There’s an easy answer. They’re doing it by positioning themselves as on the defense against the other side, rather than as the people with the guns pushing non-white, non-straight, non-Americans out of the boat because they need to protect the boat, rather than protect the people. They’re doing by proclaiming themselves victims, and they’re doing by using language that inflames human weaknesses, mostly fear, and depicting themselves and those who follow them as downtrodden protectors of the historical path of the country.
Where does that leave those of us on the other side of those closed doors, high fences and protective partitions? We are being vilified as monsters, but using words like ‘socialist’ and ‘elitist’ that, we would argue, most of those using don’t even understand. We are being built up as destroyers and monsters. We are being placed in positions that are indefensible because they are lies, and there is almost nothing to be said in our own defense – not that any of the other side is willing to listen, anyway. Mostly because they’re too busy yelling over us.
It is a frustrating time to be an American. We believe that being an American means that we should be defending the rights of all, and supporting freedom of ideas and the right to worship, love and live in the way that makes us happy without hurting anyone else. It means life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It means the Bill of Rights. It means open debates and free education and borders that aren’t armed encampments. It means winning the minds and spirits of people by demonstrating that we honor and support the rights of the individual to love who they want to love, to achieve what they want to achieve, and to create a place on the planet where everyone has the right to be the best and the most that they can to the benefit of all.
We feel that the other side, the Palin-Beck-Fox News side, is not for those things. They are for themselves, alone, and do not actually care about anyone who follows their narrow-minded, fear-mongering stupidity. They are inside their own walled gardens and would cringe with fear and shake with embarrassment if an actual American ever knocked on their door and wanted some tea (not that any member of the Tea Party would ever actually drink tea – ha! see? we can be narrow-minded too! equality! rah!). We don’t actually think they’re even against anything. What they are for is money and power, but only for themselves.
The saddest part of the whole situation is not that it exists, for it has always existed. The saddest part is that they seem to be winning, basing their position and words on fear, and that their followers don’t go out and investigate on their own. The saddest part is that many if not most of those followers are being hurt by their leaders, who say one thing and do another, and think that wearing an enameled American flag on a lapel proves patriotism and support for America when, increasingly, it means nothing at all.
Yelling back at them doesn’t improve the debate or clarify its terms or educate one side or the other about anything that anyone stands for. The idea that they stand for anything is ludicrous. They stand for themselves.
So we’re starting to think like Dr. Farnsworth. If this is actually the way this country is supposed to be, if the citizens of this country prefer to live in a place that is lead by intolerant, narrow- or closed-minded, poorly-educated, scared, angry bullies, then we’re out of here.
Of course, nothing would make those people happier, would it? If there is no debate, no dissension, no stating the facts and stupidity wins, we all lose. America was once a great place. We are now in a period of stagnation and backwards-thinking. We are no longer progressing toward the goal of freedom for all, and want to take away the 14th Amendment, strip human rights, imprison people who cross our borders looking for a better life and afraid of “different,” “new” and “ideas.”
Frankly, we’re pissed off. This happened because we didn’t care and we had more faith in the American public than the American public was worth. It appears, now, that the American public wants a country that is intolerant and ignorant, as if those things are to be celebrated and strived for. Sure, it’s a scary world, but is the answer really to roll up the sidewalks and shut down the harbors and cringe inside our homes? Is the answer to shut our ears and pretend that “the olden days” were really better? And do we want an isolated country that is only one religion, and only one race, and only one way of thinking?
We sincerely hope not. But if that is where the country is going, count us out.