Things are bad when you can’t even feel superior to Americans

September 16, 2017
Trump telling Turnbull “You guys are worse than me!” is a bit like Malcolm Roberts suggesting your theories about the world are starting to sound too crazy.

Steve Bannon, the editor of the far-right Breitbart and Donald Trump’s ex-chief strategist, recently compared China to Germany in the 1930s, telling the New York Times: “China right now is Germany in 1930. It’s on the cusp ... The younger generation is so patriotic, almost ultranationalistic.”

I found that interesting because it confirmed my theory that Bannon is in fact a vampire. He must be, because he has clearly never seen a mirror. No doubt this also explains how he can maintain the belief he’s part of the master race.

It is that kind of wilful lack of self-awareness that makes the United States the nation it is today.

It is not just the far right, either. A lot of Americans are expressing great concern over alleged interference in their country by Russia, which may or may not be true, but just sounds odd.

I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that sounds weird about Americans complaining about a foreign power intervening in their country to impose a government friendly to its interests. Maybe I’ll ask an Iraqi, see if they have any ideas.

How do you think Latin America feels? They must hear that and think: “Oh, did a foreign power intervene to try to force a right-wing government on you? Because we just call that Tuesdays.”

September 11 was, after all, the 44th anniversary of the CIA-organised military coup that overthrew Chile’s elected left-wing government and killed thousands. Meanwhile, the US has just imposed harsh sanctions on Venezuela that brings to mind the world’s longest-running economic blockade that the US has subjected Cuba to since 1961.

Hearing Americans complain about outside interference is as jarring as seeing Tony Abbott leading a Mardi Gras parade dressed in rainbow-coloured speedos.

Then there is the apparent belief that the right people to try to tackle North Korea over its handful of possibly functional nuclear weapons are the bastards that have almost 7000 of them and remain the only country to ever use them against a civilian population. It is like having an intervention staged by a relative too drunk to stand who hasn’t been sober since 1945.

But the worst thing about this is, given the sorry state of our own politics, we are hardly in any position to feel superior. And feeling smugly superior to Americans is Australia’s favourite pastime, so it really hurts.

I mean, when Donald Trump found out about our government’s treatment of refugees, he told our prime minister, “You guys are worse than me!” This is a bit like Malcolm Roberts suggesting your theories about the world are starting to sound too crazy.

It is hard to feel superior when your parliament includes the likes of One Nation senators like Roberts. Speaking about one of her seemingly endless controversies, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson recently said, and this is a direct quote: “What have I said that’s offensive?”

What have you said that’s offensive, Pauline? Look, I tell you what, you take a seat and we’ll get cracking and with a bit of luck we might be done by Christmas. In 2030. Or before the runaway climate change you don’t believe in renders the planet unable to sustain human civilisation, whichever comes first.

Hanson also recently offered the opinion that “political correctness” was preventing “ordinary Australians” like her from “having their say”. Given the things she already says, the mind boggles at the thought of what views she feels obliged to hold back.

Presumably it’s that she really hates puppies and thinks they should all be drowned. That’s about all that’s left.

It is hard for Australia to feel superior when we still don’t even have marriage equality, which even the nation that gave Trump the keys to the White House has achieved.

And as the “respectful debate” we are currently enjoying over the non-binding postal survey shows, there is a reasonable chunk of people in this country whose response to any expression of support for the idea of equal rights is to shout: “STOP BULLYING ME, YOU RAINBOW FASCISTS!”

A lot of people who say they are voting No seem to be under the misapprehension that the plebiscite question is: “Do you like the tone taken by progressive people on social media?” As opposed to the somewhat simpler question of whether all couples should have the same rights?

We need to resolve this denial of equal rights sooner rather than later, if only so we don’t have to feel even more socially backwards than the United States. Sure it might only be one positive step, but some progress is better than none.

[Carlo Sands’ show at the Sydney Fringe Comedy festival is on September 27, September 29 and October 1.You can book tickets here.  All proceeds go to Green Left Weekly.]

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