They Take Away a Woman’s Lipstick

From Fred On Everything

A New Improved America: The Coming of God Knows What

Something is wrong with the United States. I think most of us have noticed it. There is a mortal rot in the country, made manifest by many little rots that are hard to integrate mentally yet are, I think, somehow related. The change is grave, accelerating, probably irreversible, and fascinating. Things are not as they were.

The United States is the most hated country on the planet, followed by, to the extent that there is a distinction, Israel. So far as I know, there are no other contenders. You can say “Who cares?” as many will say, or “Screw’em if they can’t take a joke,” or “I’d rather be feared than loved.” All very droll. Still, it is an interesting datum. No country ever lives up to its own PR, but there was a time when America was widely admired. Now, almost universally, it is seen as a rogue state. And is.

This carries a price. The US consulate in Guadalajara is part fortress, part prison, with barriers and cameras and bars and rentacops, and they take away a woman’s lipstick if she is going to enter. Maybe a country that fears lipstick needs to think. The French consulate around the corner is wide open, like all others that I know of. The French, Chinese, Japanese and so on aren’t hated.

The US government now lives in its own, strange, insulated world.

(2) The United States is the most militarily aggressive country on the planet, followed closely by Israel. I am aware of no other contenders.

Some of this combativeness is obvious—attacking Iraq for no good reason, occupying Afghanistan, threatening Syria and Iran, attacking Lebanon by proxy, bombing Somalia, putting troops in the Philippines to hunt Moslems. The US is also looking for trouble with Venezuela, threatening North Korea, moving to “contain” China (Doesn’t a container need to be bigger than its scontents?), embargoing Cuba, pushing into Central Asia, increasing the military budget, and pushing NATO ever closer to Russia. (How stupid can you get? Very. Stay tuned.), And the Pentagon now has Africom, African Command. Africa is now America’s business.

(3) Powerful domestic hostilities grip the United States. Maybe you have to be outside of it really to see it. I live in Mexico. You can go for…well, five years and counting, without hearing angry talk about this or that group. In America, women hate men and men are getting sick of American women. Blacks hate whites hate Hispanics. “Affirmative action” engenders intense hastily that doesn’t go away. It isn’t the normal friction found in any country. It is serious antagonism quashed by federal force.

And the black-white-brown thing has very real potential for getting nasty. This we don’t talk about.

(4) A curious state fear prevails in America, but it is a governmental creation, a calculated manipulative Disneyland. Perhaps soon we will have Terror Mouse.

Recently I was in Washington. Everywhere there were the artificialities of fear. The steel pop-up barriers in the roads, the stop’em-bombs steel poles on sidewalks, the endless warnings to report suspicious behavior on loudspeakers in the subway. The searches of everything, the metal-detecting doorways even on buildings of country governments, of schools. (Schools, for Chrissakes. What is wrong here?) And of course the confiscation of shampoo at the airport. This is nuts.

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