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As the world watches in fascinated horror, the US’s election-results fiasco drags on. Donald Trump, who now presides over the greatest UnReality Show, has been unequivocally told, “You’re Fired.” Yet, he continues in some La-La-Land of Denial, playing hooky on international zoom conferences, and golf.

His mastiff-like pugnaciousness and refusal to acknowledge reality  in the face of overwhelming evidence reminds one of Baghdad Bob or Comic Ali,  as the Iraqi Media Minister was known during the otherwise tragic US-Iraq war. The latter kept bragging heroically that the Iraqi army would get the better of the advancing US forces, even when those forces were literally at the doorstep of the Iraqi palace.

Before this current theater of the absurd unfolded in front of the world, there has been the continuing abysmal record of covid-19 in the so-called most advanced country in the world. The US still leads the world in almost all scientific attainments, especially those in the field of pure sciences and basic research.

It boasts world class (private) hospitals where the most affluent of the world have sought cures. It has a fairly organized (privatized) health care system, with ever-ready first responders, top-of-the-line medical equipment and the best-in-class doctors from storied medical schools.

Yet, under the watch of the current – and refusing-to-be-outgoing – administration, the outside world glimpsed the rotten core of healthcare infrastructure in the US, with health facilities like senior-care centers becoming factories of death.

Also, arguably one of the biggest and most extensive police-state with endless modes of curbing citizen behavior was unable to put in place a system to limit the spread of the virus as it extracted a punishing toll on the American population.

All this when population density levels in the US, like in most western countries, is very low and Americans are known for fanatically protecting their “private space.” Social distancing was a reality in the US long before it became a corona-related buzzword around the world.

What one saw instead were legions of pompous covid-deniers, with ludicrous battles over basic issues of wearing masks and controlling social gatherings. The myth of an advanced, informed, disciplined, responsible citizenry came tumbling down. Add to this, images of long lines to secure access to basic necessities from foodbanks punctured the little sheen that still remained on America’s aura of greatness.

It was already evident to everyone that the SAGA of MAGA – Making America Great Again – was probably a pipe dream now, such seemed to be the fall in most standards of humanity and social responsibility – much touted indicators of the civilized world – as people continue to die at alarming rates.

Not that that is the only thing right now on American minds as the nation heads for its Thanksgiving holiday. Before the macabre ritual of shopping madness called Black Friday is the ritual of White Washing Thursday of indigeneous history, also known as Thanksgiving.

It represents another instance of denialism that Americans have indulged in over centuries since what is called “First Contact” with native peoples on the North American continent, and more specifically with tribes of the New England region.

What is projected as a quintessentially American holiday with “traditions” of family get-togethers and celebrated Caligulaesque gastronomical excesses, emanating from idyllic first meetings with native folks, was in all probability part of a greater narrative of conquest and conflict.

Thanks to unstinted efforts by Native American activists and educators, the move to demystify and correct this air-brushed history has slowly started to be interrogated more critically by educators throughout the US.

That America is a deeply divided nation has been confirmed by the current elections, which indicated strong support for Trump among the people, despite all his failings and personal boorishness. However, this is hardly news as most analysts are probably still trying to process the reasons behind Trump’s victory in the first place 4 years ago.

But what has been brought into sharp relief this time around is the contrast between the more privileged and the less privileged in the US. The (poorer) African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans have been disproportionately affected by the virus. They are also the ones who have not just been sufferers medically but have also taken the brunt of the economic blow that the various restrictions in economic activity have caused.

Just a few months ago, in the midst of the covid medical emergency, America was convulsed by protests over issues of racial targeting. The continuing racial divide, especially against the Black population lay exposed once again.

At the time of writing, the US is recording close to 150,000 fresh infections every day, far more than any other country in the world. African-Americans continue to be the hardest hit in big cities like Chicago. And amidst all this wreckage, there is a president who is openly behaving in a laughably petulant way in front of the world. In the world’s most famous democracy, there seems to be no way to dispose of someone who is “squatting” in full public view while the same country is brutally efficient in evicting defaulting renters, say.

It does not really need a Borat to poke fun at US of A any more. It is increasingly hard to distinguish the US from the caricatured, dysfunctional Kazakhstan that Borat sketches in his moviefilms. The whole world is now aghast at the loony circus that the US is presenting itself as.

In the 1980s the US loved to make fun of the so-called “banana republics” with their megalomaniac dictators and states controlled by (US) multinational corporations.

The joke, it would seem, is on the US now. Of course, the ever-prescient Noam Chomsky pointed to the rot in US values in his 2006 book, Failed States.

Still, it may be an exaggeration to characterize the US as a lawless and directionless nation going downhill to perdition. But it is not far from the truth that the idea of the American nation, if there was ever one, say, as imagined in their constitution, is nowhere near realization.

For a nation that was never really close to being “Once Glorious” (despite Old Glory and all that), the task of Making America Glorious Again is indeed an improbable one.

Aviral Anand is a writer based in Delhi-NCR


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