musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

The Filth of July

I saw this little news blurb, buried in the sports section of an online site earlier this week:

An Alabama minor league baseball team has cancelled a gun raffle that was supposed to be featured during its Second Amendment Night promotion. Huntsville Stars spokeswoman Nicole Colonis said Monday that the raffle during the team’s Wednesday night game against the Chattanooga Lookouts was cancelled after Minor League Baseball officials said the promotion was likely not in the franchise’s best interest. Colonis says Second Amendment Night will still feature free admission for members of the National Rifle Association who present their membership card. The Huntsville Stars are a Class-AA affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Ah yes, only in America could they think of holding such an idiotic promotion like that. Of course you also have to keep in mind that we’re talking about Alabama, hardly a hotbed of liberal values. But it’s still part of the good old U S of A, that bastion of rednecks, religious extremists, gun-toting misanthropes, and other cruel and unusual peckerheads. And hey, today is the Fourth of July, the annual Independence Day holiday in the USA, so you can bet all those misguided patriots will be waving their flags, shooting off their illegally purchased fireworks — and guns, of course — and proclaiming how proud and privileged they are to be living in “the land of the free and home of the brave.”

What a bunch of hogwash. I’m an American by birth, but I’ve lived in Southeast Asia for the past 17 years and that experience has definitely given me a different perspective on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Suffice to say, I don’t miss living in the USA whatsoever and I have zero desire to return, even for a short visit. The last time I did return to the States was 13 years ago and even then it felt awkward and uncomfortable being there. Keep in mind that this was in 2000, before the calamity of 9-11 and the Twin Towers. No wars yet in Iraq or Afghanistan, no taking off half your clothing to walk through airport security. Yeah, it was a long time ago.

I shudder to think how I’d react to being back in the US nowadays, being around Patriots and Freedom-Lovers, Right-wing Republicans and Born-Again Christians, and other sub-species who scorn science and deny the existence of climate change. I realize that not all Americans are brain-dead, TV-addicted churchgoing NRA members. At least half the population still seems reasonably same. Nevertheless, I think going back there would be quite unpleasant. I’m positive I would be miserable, short-tempered, and say awful things. Hell, perhaps I would do awful things. Whatever the scenario, it would be blunt and ugly and painful, and so … I ain’t going back.

In the US, back in the early 1970s during the days of the Vietnam War when there was controversy about draft dodgers who would move to Canada to escape military service, it was common to see these bumper stickers on cars that said: America: Love it or Leave It.

That was excellent advice.


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