Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Makes Me Ashamed to be an American

These are my observations and opinions.  They do not reflect the views of either Peace Corps or the United States government.  Or, apparently, anyone in the multi-billion dollar industry that’s denigrating the reputation of America.

I took my 6 year old host sister to the market yesterday.  We rode the “good” bus.  What makes a bus good is that it’s actually a bus.  It has separate, cushioned seats, a large front window and side windows that slide open and closed.  The majority of buses are hand-built on a truck frame with wooden benches, windows that usually but not always can be raised when it’s raining and they’re small.

The good bus also has a DVD player.  Usually it’s not playing anything and even when it is I don’t pay attention to it, preferring to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Today I noticed the music first.  Actually, I noticed the lyrics when i was surprised to hear “m-----f----er” on the load speakers.  Then I heard the “f” word.  And the “n” word.  And the “p” word.   Then I looked up and realized there was an American music video playing.   Complete with barely clothed women in sexual and subservient positions.  That’s when I experienced another “p” word.  Pissed.

I love America.  I’m out here for two years trying to show Samoa that Americans are caring people with a lot to offer the world.  That America is more than wars and violence.  That American women aren’t brainless sluts, hoping some man will come along to dominate us, sexually and otherwise. 

Since I arrived here some people have expressed gratitude.  Mostly, though, they tell me how lucky I am to be out of the United States.  Because of all the guns.  All the drugs.  All the violence.  And many people tend to assume that American women are easy and looking for a sexual encounter, with any guy who comes along.

Before I left home I was walking across the parking lot of the grocery store when a woman in a large SUV drove past, music blaring from her open windows.  I heard the same words then and was angry and appalled as she drove past parents with small children.  Either oblivious or indifferent to the toxic words she was spreading.

That toxicity is being spread around the world. The images people in other countries have of what America is and who Americans are is what they see on those videos.  When I see the trash we’re exporting as “art” it makes me ashamed to be an American.

Post Script:  Does this entry make me sound like a Tea Party fogy who wears Depends under my polyester pant suit?  Perhaps.   Ironically, many assume that since I joined the Peace Corps I must be a left wing liberal nut case.  I consider myself a centrist.

Does age factor into my views about the amount of sex and violence we show our own children as well as children around the world?  I’m sure it does.  Do I think we should go back to the days of June and Ward and twin beds?  No.

I believe there’s a middle ground.  I believe it’s about money and we can control what type of music is spread by what we buy.  And parents, if you’re saying “I just can’t control what music my 12 year old buys.”, slap yourself upside the head.

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