The current London Review of Books carries a calmly horrifying report from the US Republican party convention by Andrew O’Hagan. Two passages worth quoting, beginning with the opening paragraph, a relentless account of the state of America:
America is now offering lessons in what little wisdom it takes to govern the world. Confounded in Iraq, isolated from its traditional allies, shamed over Abu Ghraib, soaked in corporate corruption and the backwash of environmental harm, sustaining an uninherited budget deficit while preparing more tax rewards for the rich, as dismissive of the unhealthy as the foreign, as terrified of the unfolding truth as of mailed anthrax, it is a society made menacing by a notion of God’s great plan. America is tolerance-challenged, integrity-poor, frightened to death, and yet, beneath its patriotic hosannahs, a country in delirium before the recognition that it might have spent the last three years not only squandering the sympathy of the world but hot-housing hatreds more ferocious than those it had wished to banish for ever from the clear blue skies.
The second passage is a terrifying conversation with one of the conference attendees:
“The Muslims just hate us for our love of freedom,” said a woman from Iowa wearing a cloth elephant on her head. “They don’t have any culture and they hate us for having a great one. And they hate the Bible.”
“Really?” I said. “The Iraqis had a culture for thousands of years before Jesus was born.”
“What you saying?”
“I’m saying Muslims were building temples when New York was a swamp.”
“You support the Iraqis?”
“You support the killing of innocent people going to work? People who have to jump out of windows?”
“You aren’t listening to me.”
“No, buddy. You ain’t listening. These people you support are trying to kill our children in their beds. Where you from anyway, the New York Times?”
This leaves me speechless, and seriously wondering if I can bring myself to visit the country again should Bush win another term.