May 24, 2019

American Exceptionalism

by Dymitri Haraszewski (author's profile)



American Exceptionalism

From a recent newspaper article about a SoCal controversy over "patriotic" paint jobs on local cop cars: "A police vehicle with the American flag is the ultimate American expression."

So says a "lawyer" (really just a prosecutor, no doubt) who can't believe that some of her Laguna Beach neighbors don't share her enthusiasm for jingoistic police imagery. As another local observed, the bold flag motif is "too aggressive" and "out of step with our artistic, mellow community."

I'd like to ask you guys: how do we all feel about the idea that "the ultimate American expression" is a flag-covered cop car? I mean, it feels a little off to me. Wouldn't the "ultimate American expression" be something more like a bald eagle soaring over Mt. Rushmore, or a pack of apple-pie-smeared kids at a state fair? Maybe a boat ferrying immigrants past the Statue of Liberty?

Or for a less idealized image, how about acres of shiny new Cadillacs at a suburban mega-dealership, or at least a beach packed with overweight drunks enjoying a fireworks show? Even a deserted restaurant table full of half-eaten cheeseburgers would be a pretty "ultimate" expression of some of the genuine pleasures of American privilege, no?

But Old Glory plastered across a pigmobile? That just feels embarrassing.

Cop cars symbolize (and manifest) the worst human instinct: revenge, authoritarianism, and a commitment to the repression of meaningful challenge to the power structure status quo. Cop cars are rolling cages piloted by arrogant state mercenaries, and they are cruelly designed for the maximum discomfort of the human chattel they haul from dungeon to dungeon. Does fostooning these publicly-funded shame shuttles with our national symbol amount to the "ultimate American expression"?

Actually, now that I think about it... that prosecutor lady probably has a point, doesn't she? If only she were making it with a little bit of irony—or a hint of regret.


Replies (1) Replies feed

FatherJohn Posted 3 months, 3 weeks ago. ✓ Mailed 3 months, 1 week ago   Favorite
Granny always said, "you can't turn a sow's ear into a silk purse."

Uncle Chris always said, "let's put some lip stick on this oink-er...and roll it under the spotlight...and make a sale." (while laughing heartily referring to a repo)

Uncle Ricard always told his kids, "Fair? The Fait is where you sell your pigs."

Confidential to Dymitri. I'm always embarrassed of myself to go to what me and my brothers refer to as "trough feeding." This is the endless buffet where morbid obesity is a phone call away from doom and despair.

Your images of civilization are vivid and realistic. But to the heart of your point...should I be the city planner...festive or patriotic is not the image that will sell (it is just not believable).

TV has taught us the most sophisticated color is a long shiny black SUV. It signifies darkness, literally and stealth, figuratively and despair, allegorically and wealth, metaphorically (gotta keep it shiny!)

But here we have tan and white and white/black.

I am thinking a big head picture of the president may be more significant than the stars and bars as indicative of "us." Comment brother.
John Pfister
May 24, 2019

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