Cast of 'West Wing'

Understanding American psyche

Most Israelis know that Evangelical support is based on belief that Jews will also perish in hell

Although Arabs and Israelis have a difficult time trying to understand each other, that difficulty is sometimes a distraction from the real challenge, understanding the Americans.


Let’s face it, Americans, generally, hate Arabs, not because they are Arabs as defined in historical context, but because most Americans take the simplistic view of life that Arabs equal Muslims and Muslims are the greatest threat to the Christian way of life.


There was a time when the Jewish people sat in that honored position of hatred, although it really has changed.


True anti-Semitism may have evolved in the “passions” of European Christiandom, but the stepchild of that anti-Semitic hatred is born and bred in the cornfields of the American Bible belt.


In judging Americans, Arabs and Israelis are forced to weigh the challenge using the “lesser of two evils” formula.


Most Israelis know that Evangelical support for Israel is actually based on the belief that Jews will also perish in the bonfires of hell as fast as all other non-Christians who do not embrace Jesus.


But Americans are very articulate at the profession of the “spin.” The “spin” was born in the American melting pot. The vast majority of Americans are Christian, and while they worship in churches of various and often warring and competing Christian denominations, their biggest temple is the Church of the Latter Day Communications.


Public relations. Free speech has mothered a bastard child called “perception,” and perception is a relative evil.


Americans believe what they want to believe when it’s convenient and it seems to answer the things they can’t explain. Stereotyping is an everyday trait in American culture. Eventually, stereotyping reaches a balance between lynching and economic oppression, which is why most Americans today no longer attack African Americans on the streets of American cities as frequently as they did in the 1950s and 1960s.


‘We’d survive any nuclear attack’


So what is the answer to the question, how do I understand the American mind?


We were better, Americans were long taught, because we embrace diversity and the magnet that brings diversity to our shores is freedom, not just physical but of the mind. Free speech. Free expression. Free thought.


The engine that drives all this is communications. And the icon that best symbolizes communications is television.


So, if you want to understand where America is going, just watch TV.


In the 1950s and 1960s, television fueled this undercurrent of American nightmares that distorted the true threat of nuclear warfare.


Americans were not really afraid of the devastation that a nuclear bomb might cause. In school in the 1950s and 1960s, children were taught that in the event of a nuclear attack, all we had to do was run out into the school hallways, curl down in a kneeling fetal position and put our hands over our heads.


We’d survive any nuclear attack from the Soviet menace.


But as the Soviets reached into space, television bred a greater fear. The fear that a nuclear attack would do two things, create monsters out of ants and lizards that would ravage our world, and draw the attention of the aliens, who for some reason never explained in the “what to do in the event of a nuclear attack” manuals would suddenly take notice and invade us.


Television made it easy for President Kennedy to declare that America would dominate the universe, first by conquering the moon and then Mars, the habitation of our greatest alien fears. (TV certainly helped Kennedy, who was less articulate and experienced in foreign policy, defeat then-vice president Richard M. Nixon, who was more experienced in both.)


Of course, by the time we did get a few men to the moon, we found ourselves in a battle that was siphoning off our energy and our young right here on Earth, the Vietnam War.


Vietnam was our attempt to once and for all defeat Communism by playing dominos with a greater sense of strategy combined with Christian faith.


‘America is ready for a woman president’


The Communists were non-Christians, after all. Our goal was simple. Send our superior soldiers into jungles of Vietnam and defeat the less intelligent and less armed heathen. And everything might have succeeded, except that the “heathens” turned out to be very persistent.


Just as we were about to do something really terrible, TV came to our rescue, by accident, of course, portraying the reality of the war in such graphic detail that Americans turned away in shame and war support dropped like a lead balloon.


TV still guides the American psyche.


No one was ready to embrace the idea that a woman would become president in the 1980s when Walter Mondale, former vice president under President Jimmy Carter, ran for president against Ronald Regan with the first woman vice presidential candidate at his side, Geraldine Ferraro.


Well, Americans weren’t ready for a woman vice president, even though nearly half of the nation’s voters were women.


But now, 20 years later, America is ready for a woman president.


How do I know that? Not because Hillary Clinton says she is going to run, as most people assume. But, because, TV tells me so. Yes. One of the most popular television programs today is one featuring a woman president played by actress Geena Davis on “Commander and Chief.”


As the show’s ratings increase, so does the acceptance of the inevitability of a woman becoming president.


Another rival TV show about presidents, “The West Wing,” has tried, belatedly, to insert the idea of a Latino running and winning the presidency. It’s a popular show, but apparently, the people who run TV-land pulled the plug on that administration. You can’t blame that on "the Jews."


As the Palestinians and Israelis fall deeper and deeper into conflict, they will both start looking towards the United States to bail them out.


It might help if they first start reading the Bible on how to be an American, "The TV Guide." All the answers are right there in front of our eyes, on television.


Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and standup comedian. He can be reached at


פרסום ראשון: 04.10.06, 07:48
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