There’s a sneaky video doing the rounds of Facebook – Not the Greatest – that purports to pour honest cold water over the idea that America is the Greatest Country in the World. Its caption is ‘The Most Honest Three Minutes in Television History’ and it supposedly shows the response of an unnaturally passionate and eloquent panellist to the question ‘Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world’ posed naively by a young woman in the audience.
It’s produced and published by a media company called NextNextNow, and it’s obviously scripted. It’s entirely dishonest from the start. But spookily clever.
You think for a moment that the idea is to take down those stupid American Supremacists. The ‘panellist’ reels off statistics on prisoner numbers, child mortality, educational standards, exports and health, in order to prove that America isn’t the greatest except in some rather unattractive ways.
But watch carefully what happens next. The video morphs into a misty-eyed nostalgic account of a time when America truly was the greatest country in the world, the most innovative, the most moral. The implication, clearly, is that American can be made the greatest again with the right man in charge, perhaps.
Listen to what the panellist says:
‘We sure used to be (the greatest).’
‘We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We made laws and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged war on poverty not poor people.’
Now hang on a moment!
Vietnam, Cambodia, Central America, Iraq, capital punishment. And on the positive side, health care reform, gay marriage, etc.
When was this golden age when America was the shining beacon of morality?
It’s a clever video, never more so than when the man says:
‘We never identified ourselves by who we voted for in the last election.’
Which means, of course, that just because you voted for Obama last time you mustn’t think that you can’t vote for Donald this time round.
It’s also subtly anti=establishment. It’s designed to appeal to the cynical and to the angry. The message is that clichés and received wisdom must be rejected, together with all the establishment assumptions. Most of all, don’t trust those in power. There used to be ‘great men’ but there aren’t any great men any more to whom you can turn.
It is clever, evil nonsense. And it’s a very sneaky ad from the Trump camp.
Don’t get taken in. The most honest three minutes? Pernicious nonsense!
There is no greatest country in the world. What does ‘greatest’ mean, anyway?