America’s on the move
The holiday season has arrived, and that means a smooch under the mistletoe and a second helping of Aunt Helen’s plum pudding.
It also means another skirmish in the endless culture wars that have shaped and reshaped what it means to be an American.
“Season’s Greetings?” “Merry Christmas?” See you in court.
Back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, aka my childhood, our teachers led us in song: “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred ninety-two!”
Today that’s practically hate speech.
Now Christopher Columbus is a syphilitic genocidal oppressor of indigenous people; and don’t even ask about America’s Founding Fathers who were nothing but a bunch of misogynistic slave owners with a mouthful of wooden teeth.
Holidays and heroes are symbols, and they hold a special place in every nation’s narrative. As social mores morph over time, some symbols rise while others fall.
A new Bloomberg Politics poll reports 50 percent of Americans say they wouldn’t want their sons to play football and only 17 percent believe the sport will grow over the next two decades.
That doesn’t seem too likely on a Sunday morning just a few weeks before bowl games and playoffs, but the rumblings are there.
Lawsuits over head injuries continue to pile up along with controversies over PEDs, domestic abuse, even some teams’ names.
“Redskins?” This ain’t 1492.
While it’s not quite 4th and long for football, who could have imagined we’d even be having this conversation a few years ago?
While I can’t imagine the local sports bar tuning every TV to “Monday Night Pilates,” I never thought I’d see the day pot would be legal but the plastic bag it comes in isn’t, so you never know.
And it’s not just football.
Last week McDonald’s eliminated five of 16 Extra Value Meals and reduced a number of other items, including four varieties of my favorite, the Quarter-Pounder.
November sales fell 4.6 percent, continuing a downward trend sparked by increased competition, changing tastes and years of negative publicity from health and labor advocates.
When it comes to American brands is there anything more symbolic of America culture than Coca-Cola? The Coke logo is practically a second flag — a flag now banned from school campuses from coast-to-coast.
The subject of dire warnings from pediatricians battling an epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes, sugary soda sales are way down as more Americans make healthier choices.
Football, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are fighting the tide of history and possibly human evolution to boot. Adapt or die, said Darwin. The same can be said for all of America.
Our beloved country is struggling to find her place in a rapidly changing world. Global events seem to be racing ahead with our government chasing rather than leading the way. Bullies like Vladimir Putin and maniacal killers like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, are on the rise while we argue amongst ourselves over practically everything.
Some wonder why the world doesn’t appreciate all America has done, which is a lot, but gratitude for the Greatest Generation’s sacrifice during World War II has passed its expiration date. The world wants to know what we’ve done for it lately.
Millions of Americans are asking the same question.
A New York Times poll published last week says only 64 percent of respondents answered in the affirmative when asked, “Do you think it is possible to start out poor in this country, work hard and become rich?” That’s the lowest percentage in 20 years.
We’ve survived ebbs and flows of confidence and purpose before, through times much grimmer than our own. If football fails and Coca-Cola goes the way of sarsaparilla, America will still survive. But what will America look like?
Will we be the nation Lincoln described as “the last best hope,” will we live JFK’s invocation to “ask not what your country can do for you?” or will they just be two more forgotten slogans, like “You deserve a break today” and “It’s the real thing?”
Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sunday and Wednesday. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.