here’s this Texan thing – a guy living in the middle of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolitan area, surrounded by concrete all the way to the horizon and not within a hundred miles of a single cow, wears a cowboy hat. That’s the Texan narrative, the proud cowboy (even though, historically, their economy was more based on rice and cotton than livestock) and the cowboys that were wore everything from straw hats to bowlers. But they wear their funny headgear, 150 years out of date.
But that’s how modern (and, largely, American) society works. Surrounded by more facts and truth than any people in time have ever had, we look to media and imagery for our worldview. Everyone bases their political and religious views on movies and media (and manufactured narratives). Remember Willie Horton? He’s the black guy who dodged out on his prison furlough and committed several horrible crimes. Bad, but George H.W. Bush made it a campaign issue (dog-whistle politics), paving the way to the open racism we are seeing today. People see a black man commit crimes and now they have their story (or alibi) that ALL black men commit such crimes.
It’s actually frightening how it’s taken hold of us. On Facebook (the absolute worst place for this) you can see narrative countering narrative, without any sort of actual fact given. Everyone “knows someone who”.
And now we have a president (a media figure in himself) who openly states (without facts) that our coming election is fraudulent and that armed insurrection is the fallback line if he loses. The newspaper quoted many of his followers ardently believing this claim even though it has not been proven in any way. And if this political comment in a neutral DOG EAR column pisses you off – fine – show me your proof of election fraud. Because I sure don’t want to hear about “a guy you know.”
Frankly, it illustrates an immaturity of a populace, a loss of critical thinking. Now we reject science and journalistic truths for crazy conspiracy theories and crack-pot (or worse) political/cultural/racist memes.
It’s sad to think that the myths of excellence, from Homer (and his Greeks under the walls of Troy) to Dumas (and his three musketeers), their ideas and truths, has changed. Now the magic of human imagination has been weaponized for (frankly) evil purposes. No longer to we carefully read a classic and reflect on the truth it inspires – we search for the narrative, any narrative, that fits our stunted worldview.
And this is why there is no American Exceptionalism, not in a people who find mild excuses in shaky narratives for the crimes they commit.