This week’s post is based on my observation of trends in the way news is reported by the American media. I will risk coming off sounding like an old guy as I rant on how our great country might be evolving in parallel with one of the greatest failures of a major power in history, the Roman Empire.
I chose this topic on the heels of our recent air strikes in the Middle East against the next faceless band of terrorists. I remember back in the 90’s when the US began airstrikes in the first Gulf War. My wife and I were living upstairs in my Mom’s house. We stayed up most of the night watching the live coverage on CNN as us war planes began to mercilessly bomb forces from Iraq advancing on Kuwait. It marked a transformation in our country with regard to the treatment of military personnel. Soldiers about to be deployed and those returning were viewed as heroes and defenders of our freedom.
Now we have witnessed a second war in the same area in apparent retaliation for the attacks on the US of September 11, 2001. The US Military was still viewed as being heroic during this action, but the results of the conflict were a bit muddled. It wasn’t until nearly 10 years after the 9/11 attacks that the alleged perpetrator was wiped out in Pakistan. President Obama pulled troops out of Iraq as promised and we thought collectively that we were done with the “evildoers” and the “Axis of Evil”.
Then we find out that the people we trained for billions of dollars in Iraq were either slaughtered or ran for their lives when this new organization (ISIS, ISIL, or whatever) invaded Iraq. All of that expert training we provided was inconsequential. Now we have these hooded idiots beheading American and European journalists that have bated us into more military action. Then we have another group, Corazon, that is threatening US targets.
ISIS, Corazon. Am I the only one that feels like we’re watching a superhero movie from Marvel. We have terrorists threatening our massive military strength that won’t even show their faces. One thing that you have to say for villains of the past like Hitler and others, they weren’t afraid to show us who they are.
I mentioned the Roman Empire at the beginning of this rant. How does that famed failure of a great power relate to the United States? There are many accounts of what caused the fall of this ancient global power. All of these accounts seem to point to a common theme. The population of the Roman Empire was fat, dumb, and happy. They felt themselves to be invincible so they fell asleep at the switch. When they were invaded, the shear audacity of their invaders paralyzed them from being able to defend themselves.
Do you see any parallels in the US? Ask the average citizen who is in the President’s cabinet and you will get blank stares. Ask the same citizen about Dancing with the Stars or The Voice, and they will give you a detailed analysis. We care more about when Kim Kardashian farts in this country than we do about our political, economic, and social situation. We care more about the new iPhone from Apple more than we care about how we are being represented in Washington.
Yes. We have become fat, dumb, and happy…literally. Obesity rates are out of sight in our country. Our education system is not only getting worse by the minute, emigres from other countries are cleaning our clock in terms of intelligence and academic achievement. Happy…we’re legalizing marijuana on a regular basis in many parts of the country. We are fascinated by non-achieving celebrities like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian who are famous for being stupid, having sex tapes, and doing absolutely nothing constructive.
I’m a child of a World War II veteran, one of what is referred to as “The Greatest Generation”. My Dad told me that when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, teenage boys were lying about their age to join the military and join in the battle. The pride level was so high. Americans joined together and bought war bonds and also rationed many staples so that their armed forces would be well-supplied.
There is some of that pride in the US. The respect for military personnel is still at high levels when compared to their shameful treatment during the Viet Nam “conflict”. What’s missing is a distinct enemy and an informed citizenry. We know that our soldiers are being deployed to a bunch of countries we can’t pronounce. We know that they are losing their lives and limbs in these conflicts. We just don’t know why. We hear about threats from these faceless, cowardly terrorist groups, but since none have happened, we keep living our lives and continue being fat, dumb, and happy until the next bad thing happens.
We comment on the latest beheading video and then, within a day or two, we are back to what stupid thing Kanye West said or what celebrity nude picture has leaked to the Internet.
I’m not saying that we need to obsess over our current situation in the world, but, if we don’t want to end up conquered financially, intellectually, technologically, scientifically, and maybe even militarily, we need to wake up, step up, and be the strong, intelligent country we are capable of being.