Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reality Comes to Paradise

Normally the little town of Paradise California whiles away the hours asleep and secure nestled in the Sierra Foothills oblivious to the world softly dreaming of those days of yore the 50’s when Superman flew through the skies and Lassie ran free through the hinterlands saving Timmy from all manner of dangers in rural America. Here you can still glimpse the elusive beehive hairdo, hot rods driven by pompadour wearing hot rodders amongst the plethora of gas guzzling oversized trucks.

Generally speaking though everyone is polite once you scratch the surface almost everyone I have met in this area is a bigot. Self professed patriots adorned with tattoos of eagles and flags claiming not to be racist but also expressing hatred for Mexicans who live in the area making all manner of excuses for not hiring them. Among them are the Mexicans don’t pay their taxes, are stealing their jobs, don’t speak English etc. which is certainly a lot of nonsense. “But I’m not racist” they say. Of course not everyone is like this but they do seem to be far and few between. Most are against the Iraq War but that is not out of any horror felt at the mass destruction and murders that continue on but more because they have finally figured out it really hasn’t been all that good for America. Still, there is very little that intrudes upon their lives. The world at large is just not all that real to them and for the most they give it little thought mostly obsessed with their own fantasies of an America lost in the past, those good old days that never really were, where mom baked apple pies and children romped over emerald lawns decked out in Huck Finn attire straw hats and drinking lemonade. If there were any blacks they would certainly be out behind the barn dancing and playing the harmonica strumming banjos happy as can be as long as they stayed in their place.

Recently the world has intruded on the little hamlet of Paradise in the form of the Humboldt fire that raged for several days. About seventy houses burned to the ground which is a sad thing to happen to anyone. I saw a clip on the internet of a young couple who typical of the area were rotund and white being interviewed while sitting in their jeep. While it is a sad thing and I don’t enjoy seeing anyone suffer I wonder if it ever crossed their minds that we have done much worse to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia just to name a few where unmanned drones, jets, and helicopters drop death and destruction from the skies and thuggish uniformed troops kick in doors hurling hand grenades into houses followed by a hail of gunfire. There are millions of Iraqi people no longer with a place to live, no longer alive, victims of America’s callous and heartless uncaring masses. The fire will recede into the past, many will rebuild their homes, and once again this little corner of the world will slumber under the bright Pacific sun but I doubt we can say the same for Iraq where there is every indication that the occupation will continue for many a year.

It is not my intention to single out the little burg of Paradises for it is much like many other small towns dotting the American landscape. Its people are much like many people living in larger cities and suburbia for America is if nothing else is a redneck nation where citizens labor under the fantasies of American goodness. But like the Humboldt fire America’s penchant for unbridled violence and propensity to destroy the lives of people that they know nothing about and don’t want to will intrude on a dreaming America and come knocking on America’s door or as it already is. I don’t say this because I hate Americans who are after all people but I do have an intense dislike for American culture in all its manifest forms. It is a culture of conceit at once self absorbed and shallow steeped in a violent past and a violent present peopled by thugs who strut about like so many roosters crowing their jingoistic slogans all very smug and pleased with themselves. The funny thing is I can’t think of any group of people who have less reason to be smug and pleased with themselves than Americans.