Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

A Dichotomous Nation

Thanks to Anne Zook (link at sidebar) for leading me to this Farewell America essay from Guardian writer Ed Vulliamy. It's a good overview, from someone with excellent perspective, on how much this country has changed in the last half dozen years (since his arrival here), in terms of how the rest of the world views us and of course how non-duped American citizens view the smirking chimp naked Emperor. I'd recommend following it up with this terrific opinion piece from Kimberley Fox (link at sidebar) talking about how the UN might be able to help us out of our current imperial dilemma. [Update: Looks like Senator Robert Byrd agrees about the necessity of the UN.]

One thing that's struck me about Vulliamy's essay, and so many others I've read lately, is the prevalent idea of an either/or America. "You're either with us or you're against us." Says Vulliamy, "we are left with an America which sees the world as a football game: you win or lose. It has lost all sense of nuance." Personally, I think it's debatable whether, like a sense of irony, this country ever had any sense of nuance, but the point is taken. And this doesn't just play out in the political arena. One reason I'm not on comics message boards as often now as I was before I started this blog is because of all the silly either/or assumptions that abound. "You read superhero comics, that means you don't like indies [or vice versa]." "You're expressing disappointment with one aspect of how Company X does business, that means you hate them and their books." "You didn't like this particular book, that means you have it in for the writer and/or artist." To these folks, critiques can't possibly be more complex than all-or-nothing. I've even seen this mentality come into play with blogging - is my blog a personal blog? a comics blog? a political blog? a New York blog? a comedy blog? Can't it be a little bit of all those things and more? Heaven forfend we stand in the way of pigeonholing or categorization.

Robin sometimes describes America in terms of a multiple-choice test rather than essay questions. It's increasingly looking like "multiple" means "two."