Americans are as safe, well fed, securely sheltered, long-lived, free, and healthy as any human beings who have ever lived on the planet. But we are down on America. So why do we hate us? According to Dick Meyer, the following items on this (much abbreviated) list are some of the contributors to our deep disenchantment with our own culture:
Cell-phone talkers broadcasting the intimate details of their lives in public spaces
Worship of self-awareness, self-realization, and self-fulfillment
T-shirts that read, “Eat Me”
Facebook, MySpace, and kids being taught to market themselves
High-level cheating in business and sports
Reality television and the cosmetic surgery boom
Multinational corporations that claim, “We care about you.”
The decline of organic communities
A line of cosmetics called “S.L.U.T.”
The phony red state–blue state divide
The penetration of OmniMarketing into OmniMedia and the insinuation of both into every facet of our lives
You undoubtedly could add to the list with hardly a moment’s thought. In Why We Hate Us , Meyer absolutely nails America’s early-twenty-first-century mood disorder. He points out the most widespread carriers of the why-we-hate-us germs, including the belligerence of partisan politics that perverts our democracy, the decline of once common manners, the vulgarity of Hollywood entertainment, the superficiality and untrustworthiness of the news media, the cult of celebrity, and the disappearance of authentic neighborhoods and voluntary organizations (the kind that have actual meetings where one can hobnob instead of just clicking in an online contribution).
Meyer argues—with biting wit and observations that make you want to shout, “Yes! I hate that too!”—that when the social, spiritual, and political turmoil that followed the sixties collided with the technological and media revolution at the turn of the century, something inside us hit overload. American culture no longer reflects our own values. As a result, we are now morally and existentially tired, disoriented, anchorless, and defensive. We hate us and we wonder why.
Why We Hate Us reveals why we do and also offers a thoughtful and uplifting prescription for breaking out of our current morass and learning how to hate us less. It is a penetrating but always accessible Culture of Narcissism for a new generation, and it carries forward ideas that resounded with readers in bestsellers such as On Bullshit and Bowling Alone.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Why We Hate Us|
|Release Date: 08-05-2008|
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|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group|
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Why We Hate Us
LAND OF THE FAKE
The casket was wrapped in an American flag, bright in the sun reflected off the marble Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery on a May morning in 1998. A military band played the old hymn "Going Home" as an honor guard lifted the casket and carried it to the waiting hearse. During the night, the coffin had been taken out from under the heavy stones of the tomb. It had rested there since Memorial Day 1984 when President Ronald Reagan led a ceremony to finally honor the soldiers of the Vietnam War by putting one of their own into the Tomb of the Unknowns. Who was he? What was his story? Where was his family? "We will never know the answers to those questions about his life," Reagan said that day. For fourteen years that casket protected an unknown soldier from the Vietnam War, guarded around the clock by the Army's Old Guard at the country's most solemn war memorial. On May 14, 1998, the disinterred casket was loaded into a black hearse and taken away.
Everyone at the ceremony that day knew that the human remains under the flag were not unknown. They were the remains of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot down over An Loc on May 11, 1972. Jean Blassie, Michael's mother, knew it, as did his brother and his sisters, who watched from the steps above the tomb. I knew it, as I watched from a press stand.
Astonishingly, Pentagon officials knew it back in 1984.
I remember the moment during the ceremony when I realized the Tomb of the Unknowns was literally a fake on a monumental scale. A deliberate fake. A false monument.
The hearse drove away to take the remains to a laboratory for DNA testing. On June 30, the Pentagon announced ...