The United States – and the rest of the world – is in the midst of an acute episode of schizophrenia, a self-destructive form of dissociative identity disorder. A heroic course of treatment that will bring psychological pain and suffering is called for. A cure and full recovery are not guaranteed.
I write about the United States and not the rest of the world because it’s where I live and the country I know best. Unfortunately, my comments are applicable world-wide with the question being “Is this world’s collective schizophrenia in a ‘snafu’ or ‘fubar’ state of mind”?
For you youngster out there, “snafu” and “fubar” were terms jokingly coined by the United States military during World War II. “Snafu” or “situation normal, all fucked up” was the description of the human course of events that has existed for centuries. You had the Black Plague back in the Middle Ages and Ebola and Aids today; the Hundred Years’ War 1337-1353 back then and Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Syria now; the Wall Street crash of 1929 and the financial crisis of 2008; the Triangle Trade – goods for African slaves for rum – then and the sex trade – women for drugs for cash – now.
Yet snafu held out hope for a better tomorrow or for, at the very least, the continuing existence of the status quo. That is not the case with a fubar future.
“Fubar”, or “fucked up beyond repair”, elevates “snafu” to a state of imminent and irreparable disaster, a point of no return. The Titanic was a fubar event, as was the atomic bomb. Climate change may well be a fubar phenomenon. The West African Black Rhino, the Passenger Pigeon and the Tasmanian Tiger have all had their fubar moment, they’re done dead, they ain’t around no more.
You ask how to diagnose this pathology? The diagnose of many psychological disorders is founded in the spoken word, what people say, and how they say it that predicts future actions. A snafu state of the pathology can be gleaned from television. Turn it on and you have the polarity of discourse. On the over-the-air broadcast television the use of “obscene” language, call a politician an asshole, will result in stiff fines and penalties. Continue using “offensive” language will put your broadcast license in jeopardy and subject to cancellation.
Turn on the cable guys, HBO, Netflix, Bravo, Hulu and all the others, and “offensive” language dominates. Consider the film Analyze This, the 1999 gangster comedy starring Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal. The words “fuck” or “fuckin” never made it to the big screen of your local theater or over-the-air broadcast but they were a constant refrain in the unredacted cable version. Real Time with Bill Maher is a serious discussion of current events interspersed with humor which does not shy from the obscene word or the scatological reference. The same goes for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
I am not going to bore you with more examples but rather invite you to turn on your television to prove my point, the point being that there exists a dichotomy in our common psyche, where “good” and “evil” are locked in combat. For me that means that we are still in a snafu state of mind.
This week Bob Woodward, of Watergate and All the President’s Men fame, published a book titled FEAR: Trump in the White House. After reading some excerpts I found the book aptly titled and I fear that we are fast approaching a fubar moment.
Fear, published by the venerable firm of Simon & Schuster, minces no words – it reports that John Kelley, the White House Chief of Staff, calls the President “an idiot”; that Rex Tillerson, the former Secretary of State, ramps it up to “a fucking moron”; that Gary Cohn, the President’s chief economic advisor considers him “a fucking asshole” and “a professional liar”; that John Dowd, the President’s former personal defense lawyer, called him “a fucking liar”. I am sure that there are more epithets bandied about in the book. I offer these as examples.
This should be of little surprise for Michael Wolff in Fire and Fury: Inside Trump’s White House writes that Rupert Murdoch, an old and close friend declared “What a fucking idiot” after speaking with the President and that Cohn added that he was “dumb as shit”.
The tone was set by Anthony Scaramucci, the short-lived White House Communications Director [July 26 – July 31, 2017, a world record] who on his first day in office promised that he would “fucking kill all the leakers”, that unlike Steve Bannon, another short lived White House staffer, he was “not trying to suck his own cock”, that he would undo “everything they’ve done though the FBI and the fucking Department of Justice” and that “ … he had done nothing wrong … so they’re going to have to go fuck themselves”.
The language of political discourse has become raw. It diverges from what had been previously acceptable – what was beyond the pale is now mundane. I do not remember a sitting President being called a liar, yet today The Washington Post accuses the current President lying 5,000 times.
Democracy is at a fubar tipping moment, not only in the United States but the world. If I were fluent in Turkish I would mention President Erdogan recent outburst vulgarly dismissing “critics of his policy towards the Kurds as traitors and foreign agents”. If I was fluent in Russian I would tell you of Putin’s threat of “medical castration” of a critic. Since I speak French, I will quote verbatim President Sarkozy’s rebuke of a French farmer who refused to shake his hand: “Casse-toi alors, pauvre con” [“Fuck off, you dumb asshole”].
See “What does: ‘Casse toi, pauvre con’ mean in English”
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Deyan Ranko Brashich is a contributor writing from New York. He is the author of Letters from America, Contrary Views and Dispatches. His contact and blog “Contrary Views” is at www.deyanbrashich.com