Collective Grief is Un-American, Apparently

Memorial Day is more palpable than ever this year | #TC68

Welcome to Third Cultured, a Queer Reading of the American Empire through crisis-after-crisis — written by yours truly, Kyle Borland.

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As we watch a swath of Americans partake in Memorial Day festivities like it’s any other year – as if 100,000 Americans (and counting) haven’t died in the past three months – I understand a little more why presidents of the United States have always attempted to remind us of the fragility of our collective.

Washington said at his 1789 inaugural address, “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

Lincoln said in his 1863 Gettysburg Address, “That these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Kennedy said in his 1961 inaugural address, “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship . . . to assure the survival and success of liberty.”

Obama said in his 2009 inaugural address, “Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.”

Are we, as Americans, holding up our end of the bargain in 2020?

Did we ever?

That’s a more open-ended question than it seems coming from an email newsletter. We have certainly had flashes of brilliance or, at the very least, spurts of progress where our ideals grew to encompass more and more people (albeit at a glacial pace).

But, it’s hard to ignore that without a strong guiding hand, the majority of Americans opt for self-gratification over collective survival. There has been little-to-no effort from any level of government leadership to guide us through what should be a civilizational mourning period.

Instead, we’re worried about “the economy.”

Are we this numb to death? Are we this saturated in death’s presence that as long as the bodies don’t block our screens we can keep moving? Would we even care then or would we simply complain until we were no longer individually inconvenienced?

Memorial Day is meant to honor those who gave the greatest sacrifice of all for the American Way of Life. Today? We’d sacrifice those very people for GDP.

And…a haircut, apparently.

Stay safe and healthy, beautiful people. And, thanks for reading.

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Kyle (@kgborland)

“China has no intention to change, still less replace the United States. It’s time for the United States to give up its wishful thinking of changing China and stopping 1.4 billion people in their historic march toward modernisation.

[US political attacks] are taking China-US relations hostage and pushing our two countries to the brink of a new cold war.”

Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi

American Empire & Other Wars (Graphic: ACA)

“The talk of a second wave as if we’ve exited the first doesn’t capture what’s really happening.”

Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, discussing the “patchwork pandemic” currently afflicting the United States.

“When America catches a cold, black people get the flu. In 2020, when America catches COVID-19, black people die.”

Rashawn Ray, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, commenting on how COVID-19 disproportionately infects and kills people of color. An outcome that is exacerbating a racial divide that already existed in America’s public health system.

COVID-19 Updates (as of 2pm, 5/24/2020)

A Cultural Thing

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