I am overstating here. The US has always been out of touch in a number of ways with societies across the developed world. Consider the current headlines:
1. Troy Davis may be executed tonight. As with the abolition of slavery, Europe has been way ahead of us on this one. The death penalty has been abolished now for decades across the developed world…except in the US, where our candidates still get applause for smilingly calling for more executions, as we saw last week in the Republican primary debate. The US is on the short list of producing the most state executions in the world, up there with Pakistan, China, and Indonesia, long known as among the worst violators of human rights on the planet. Some company we are keeping. (1)
2. The unconscionable occupation of Palestinian territory by the Israeli government. This one is easy to see: the entire world is on one side, and the US alone is on the other in supporting the Israeli regime’s repressive occupation of Palestinian territory. Just look at the record of UN Security Council votes on the issue. Even the staunchest allies of the US, such as France, Germany, and Britain have consistently protested against the US’s continued (and irrational) support of the Israeli policy of bantustan-style occupation, along with a murderous economic sanction on the civilian population of Gaza, a blockade that keeps children malnourished and much of the population “food insecure” as a measure of political coercion. Every single major human rights group, along with such major figures as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President Jimmy Carter have denounced the US support of Israel’s technically illegal occupation.
3. We have global warming deniers running for public office. People as patently uninformed and clownish as Republican candidates Perry and Bachmann are allowed to go unchallenged by a cowed and subservient national journalism while they ignorantly spout about how they heard of a scientist somewhere whose name they never cite who said that human-caused global warming is a hoax. Meanwhile some 98% of the relevant scientific community says otherwise, while candidate Perry tells us that it is hip to cultivate ignorance because we can be more like Galileo. In the meantime, the world laughs in order not to cry.
Here are Noam Chomsky’s recent comments on the subject of the Republic candidates:
Well, I must say that politics in this country now is in a state that I think has no analogue in American history and maybe nowhere in any parliamentary system. It’s astonishing. I mean, I’m not a great enthusiast for Obama, as you know, from way back, but at least he’s somewhere in the real world. Perry, who’s very likely—very likely to get the—to win the primary and win the nomination, and maybe to win the election, he’s often in outer space. I mean, his views are unbelievable. Bachmann is the same. Romney is kind of more or less toward the center. These are—the positions that they are taking are utterly outlandish. I mean, as you mentioned before, I just came back from Europe, where people just can’t believe what they’re seeing here, what people are saying. I mean, take one of the really crucial issues for the human species: doing something about environmental catastrophe. Well, you know, every single one of the Republican candidates—maybe not Huntsman, but every major one—is a climate change denier. It’s kind of ironic in the case of Perry. He says there’s no global warming, while Texas is burning up with the highest temperatures on record, fire all over the place, and so on.