Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tourists of History

"The disavowal that we engage in today in the United States has reached new depths—a disavowal of the United States’s imperial project, a disavowal of the prison nation we have become, a disavowal of the bankrupt state of U.S. democracy, a disavowal of the ways that our political acquiescence has allowed for the reduction of our civil rights and an increase of our vulnerability to terrorist attack.

This disavowal is aided by many aspects of American culture, not only a belief in national innocence but also a comfort culture of kitsch patriotism and a consumer culture that sells security and comfort. National innocence must be actively, constantly maintenanced by narratives that reinscribe it—in order to be shocked when teenagers pick up guns that they have ready access to and kill their classmates, we must ascribe their acts to popular culture; in order to be shocked about the fact that our country sanctions and engages in torture, we must think it was the work of a few “bad apples.” Innocence is a position from which such acts of aggression are easily screened out..."