Monday, July 04, 2005

To Europe, Or "Almost America"

The Therapist gets serious, for a moment

Over the last year, we’ve all been subtly lulled by an ABC, Peter Jennings promo, in which the eternally-composed anchor regales us with his platitudinous take on America.

Jennings, over a quiet bed of music, and sitting in an artistically-fashionable contemplative darkness, opines that America is wonderful “because you can be freer here, than almost anywhere else, and I think there’s a great beauty in that.”

Jennings then goes on to say “This is a really hopeful nation.”

Now I’m not going to go off and totally pummel a guy in the throes of lung Cancer and chemotherapy, but I am going to address why, in a statement completely loaded with the maudlin sentimentality attributed to drunks singing Auld Lang Seine at the end of the year—they still can’t come to grips with the magnitude of the American Experiment.

It amazes me, that even when ABC tries to say “America is a most swell place,” that they still plummet straight to the ground, screaming at the controls of their own benevolence.

And it all comes down to one word: Almost. “You can be freer here than ALMOST anywhere else.”

Almost? Wow, guys. America’s greatness with a contingency. America is almost the freest place; America is almost as liberty-loving as, say those French over there.

There is of course the argument that Jennings’ contemplative remarks were “off the cuff,” and that anyone could have said that. True. But what you may not have considered was that production issues, replays, second-takes and constant refinements guarantee that nothing is an accident. Jennings’ subtle use of the word almost was just that: subtle, yet deliberate.

Many would say I am quibbling—that the Therapist doth protest too much. Okay, there’s merit in that.

But what about the things that almost happened? Let’s think about a few of them:

Germany almost took over the world.

Japan almost helped them do it.

Smallpox almost did to the world what the Black Plague did do to it.

The United Nations almost became completely worthless instead of mostly worthless.

It would be redundant for me to explain why these things almost happened.

This is the greatest country on the face of the planet. We are better than Europe. We left there for twenty-seven reasons, and most of those reasons from way back then are the same reasons right about now that we’re not clamoring to go back.

“Yeah,” says one of my polemical friends. “Then why do so many Americans express such a desire to visit Europe?”

“Same reason Auschwitz has guided tours,” I say.

There’s a reason why Cuban nationals are jumping into pie-tins and paddling 90 miles with swizzle sticks to get here, and I doubt that it has to do with the prevalent, media prayer-room doctrines of almost.

Happy birthday, to a nation almost aborted.

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