On Being an American, by HL Mencken (1922)

The references updated to modern terms by Comrade Fudge (2021, close to a full century later)

Yes, this shit is still relevant.

All the while I have been forgetting the third of my reasons for remaining so faithful a citizen of the Federation, despite all the lascivious inducements from expatriates to follow them beyond the seas, and all the surly suggestions from patriots that I succumb.
It is the reason which grows out of my mediaeval but unashamed taste for the bizarre and indelicate, my congenital weakness for comedy of the grosser varieties. The United States, to my eye, is incomparably the greatest show on earth.
It is a show which avoids diligently all the kinds of clowning which tire me most quickly — for example, royal ceremonials, the tedious hocus-pocus of haut politique, the taking of politics seriously — and lays chief stress upon the kinds which delight me unceasingly —
for example, the ribald combats of demagogues, the exquisitely ingenious operations of master rogues, the pursuit of witches and heretics, the desperate struggles of inferior men to claw their way into Heaven.
We have clowns in constant practice among us who are as far above the clowns of any other great state as a Tom Brady is above a paralytic — and not a few dozen or score of them, but whole droves and herds.
Human enterprises which, in all other countries, are resigned to an incurable dullness — things that seem devoid of exhilarating amusement, by their very nature — are here lifted to such vast heights of buffoonery that contemplating them strains the midriff almost to breaking.
I cite an example: the worship of God. Everywhere else on earth it is carried on in a solemn and dispiriting manner; in England, of course, the bishops are obscene, but the average man seldom gets a fair chance to laugh at them and enjoy them.
Now come home. Here we not only have bishops who are enormously more obscene than even the most gifted of the English bishops; we have also a huge force of lesser specialists in ecclesiastical mountebankery
— tin-horn Loyolas, Savonarolas and Xaviers of a hundred fantastic rites, each performing untiringly and each full of a grotesque and illimitable whimsicality.
Every American town, however small, has one of its own: a holy clerk with so fine a talent for introducing the arts of jazz into the salvation of the damned that his performance takes on all the gaudiness of a four-ring circus,
and the bald announcement that he will raid Hell on such and such a night is enough to empty all the town blind-pigs and bordellos and pack his sanctuary to the doors.
And to aid him and inspire him there are travelling experts to whom he stands in the relation of a wart to the Matterhorn — stupendous masters of theological imbecility, contrivers of doctrines utterly preposterous,
heirs to the Joseph Smith, Mother Eddy and John Alexander Dowie tradition — Sharpton, Haggard, and their like. These are the eminences of the American Sacred College. I delight in them. Their proceedings make me a happier American.
Turn, now, to politics. Consider, for example, a campaign for the Presidency. Would it be possible to imagine anything more uproariously idiotic — a deafening, nerve-wracking battle to the death between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Dumb and Dumber, The Three Stooges
— the unspeakable, with fearful snorts, gradually swallowing the inconceivable? I defy any one to match it elsewhere on this earth. In other lands, at worst, there are at least intelligible issues, coherent ideas, salient personalities.
Somebody says something, and somebody replies. But what did Robert Michel say in 1994, and what did Tom Foley reply? Who was Michel, anyhow, and who was Foley? Here, having perfected democracy, we lift the whole combat to symbolism, to transcendentalism, to metaphysics.
Here we load a pair of palpably tin cannon with blank cartridges charged with talcum power, and so let fly. Here one may howl over the show without any uneasy reminder that it is serious, and that some one may be hurt.
I hold that this elevation of politics to the plane of undiluted comedy is peculiarly American, that no-where else on this disreputable ball has the art of the sham-battle been developed to such fineness...
Here politics is purged of all menace, all sinister quality, all genuine significance, and stuffed with such gorgeous humors, such inordinate farce that one comes to the end of a campaign with one's ribs loose, ready for "King Lear," or a hanging, or a course of medical journals.
But feeling better for the laugh. Ridi si sapis, said Martial. Mirth is necessary to wisdom, to comfort, above all to happiness. Well, here is the land of mirth, as Germany is the land of metaphysics and France is the land of fornication.
Here the buffoonery never stops. What could be more delightful than the endless struggle of the Puritan to make the joy of the minority unlawful and impossible? The effort is itself a greater joy to one standing on the side-lines than any or all of the carnal joys it combats.
Always, when I contemplate an uplifter at his hopeless business, I recall a scene in an old- time burlesque show, witnessed for hire in my days as a dramatic critic. A chorus girl executed a fall upon the stage, and Rudolph Krausemeyer, the Swiss comedian, rushed to her aid.
As he stooped painfully to succor her, Irving Rabinovitz, the Zionist comedian, fetched him a fearful clout across the cofferdam with a slap-stick. So the uplifter, the soul-saver, the Americanizer, striving to make the Republic fit for Y.M.C.A. secretaries.
He is the eternal American, ever moved by the best of intentions, ever running a la Krausemeyer to the rescue of virtue, and ever getting his pantaloons fanned by the Devil. I am naturally sinful, and such spectacles caress me.
If the slap-stick were a sash-weight, the show would be cruel, and I'd probably complain to the Polizei. As it is, I know that the uplifter is not really hurt, but simply shocked.
The blow, in fact, does him good, for it helps get him into Heaven, as exegetes prove from Matthew v, 11: Hereux serez-vous, lorsqu'on vous outragera, qu'on vous persecutera, and so on. As for me, it makes me a more contented man, and hence a better citizen.
One man prefers the Republic because it pays better wages than Bulgaria. Another because it has laws to keep him sober and his daughter chaste. Another because the Woolworth Building is higher than the cathedral at Chartres.
Another because, living here, he can read the New York Evening Journal. Another because there is a warrant out for him somewhere else. Me, I like it because it amuses me to my taste. I never get tired of the show. It is worth every cent it costs.
That cost, it seems to me is very moderate. Taxes in the United States are not actually high. I figure, for example, that my private share of the expense of maintaining the Hon. Mr. Biden in the White House this year will work out to less than 100 dollars.
Try to think of better sport for the money: in New York it has been estimated that it costs $100 to get a decent suit jacket, and $150, on an average, to take a girl on a fancy date with dinner, drinks, and other such activities.
The United States Senate will cost me perhaps $300 for the year, but against that expense set the subscription price of the Congressional Record, about $400, which, as a journalist, I receive for nothing.
For $100 less than nothing I am thus entertained as Solomon never was by his hooch dancers. The Honorable Jack Daniels costs me but 400 dollars a year; I get Maxine Waters free.
Finally, there is young Teddy Roosevelt, the naval expert. Teddy costs me, as I work it out, about 100 dollars a year, or ten dollars a month.
More, he entertains me doubly for the money, first as a naval expert, and secondly as a walking attendant upon democracy, a devastating proof that there is nothing, after all, in that superstition.
We Americans subscribe to the doctrine of human equality — and the Rooseveltii reduce it to an absurdity as brilliantly as the sons of Veit Bach. Where is your equal opportunity now?
We Americans subscribe to the doctrine of human equality — and the Rooseveltii reduce it to an absurdity as brilliantly as the sons of Veit Bach. Where is your equal opportunity now?
((Sorry @Quodverum_ I was too tempted, I HAD to lmfao))

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24 Dec 20
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To air a grievance implies it hasn’t already been made known.

The complaints have been spoken, repeatedly. The problem isn’t that they aren’t being spoken. It’s that they aren’t being listened to.
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This is not an age of legends.

There does not exist a desire to engage in acts of valor and endurance. The concept of true valor and endurance does not exist, it is not conceivable anymore.
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I mean, you, as a person, aren't alone.
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