Those Stupid Americans!

cash_gobble I’m not saying class is everything, or that there is zero popular power in the United States. Nonetheless, it remains a point of interest how well socialized our opinion makers are in the habit of blaming everybody (and hence nobody) for arrangements that are clearly related to the inequality of wealth and power.

This a priori socialization of blame is particularly strong on the topic of cars-first transportation. Are automobiles deadly, dirty, wasteful, expensive, maybe even downright stupid? Well, what can we do? “Americans are having a love affair with this car.” Such is the routine quasi-official (non-)diagnosis, even among the purported critics.

Consider this week’s NTSB call for a nationwide ban on all cell phone use by operators of moving automobiles. DbC has pointed out how pathetic this ban is likely to be, if and when it gets implemented.

Why, pray tell, is this the case? DbC, of course, suggests it has something to do with the interests and efforts of both automobile manufacturers and cellular phone marketers. We might also point out that, even before the NTSB’s recommendation and even without anything resembling a proper explanation of the facts, something like half the U.S. population supported a total cell phone ban.

How delightful, then, that we have journalists like Rick Newman of U.S. News and World Report to put it all in perspective for us. “[N]obody,” Newman reports, “needs to worry about federal agents policing their iPhone or Blackberry.” Why not? Simple, pristine popular demand, of course:

But Americans tolerate all kinds of danger, death and even mayhem in the name of personal freedom. We insist on it, in fact, and policymakers listen.

See how it works? First you lump everybody together. Then you say we’re all the same and simply insist on killing ourselves. In the process, contradictions and capitalist interests magically cease to appear.

Journalism 101.