If you’re like me, and I pray for your sake you’re not, you watch your fair share of television. In my new apartment, the cable is free, so I like to watch out of sheer enjoyment and the idea that it’s costing me nothing.
But recently, that enjoyment turned to distress when I saw a certain commercial. It shows a young man going up to a sweet, old librarian and inquiring about some books he can’t find. The woman cheerfully looks them up, but instantly turns cold and bitterly concerned.
“These books are no longer available,” she says, and in her best 1984-esque tone, she asks the young man for his name. He refuses to divulge it and tries to leave the library when two suited gentleman accost him and, after a struggle, they take him into custody.
The tag line for the commercial is “What if America wasn’t America?”
I find something a little perverse about scaring the hell out of people to make them love their freedom. Can’t we view our freedom as Americans by focusing more on the uniqueness of the situation rather than harping on how terrible things could be?
I think a much better ad campaign would be to show images praising America, while having a voice-over of the first lines of the Declaration of Independence or something.
Also, there are a couple of glaring problems with the commercial. I think the young man, who was intelligent enough to be studying independently in a library, would know that asking for books he wanted was a bozo no-no that would likely result in the removal of some part of his brain, or something.
The second problem is that one of the suited men is black. It’s kind of stupid to think that if America were to become a totalitarian society that equality of the races would still exist. Look at other totalitarian societies, and you will see that minorities are almost always restricted to low status by the ruling majority. The addition of a minority agent, or whatever he is, is simply another sentiment of politically correct drivel, not how things would probably be.
Yet, the situation presented probably isn’t too far off, in some cases. Try to borrow the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in liberal school districts. Chances are you won’t be able to. It’s been banned. Or try to borrow Slaughterhouse Five in conservative school districts. Fat chance at getting it before the PTA hurls it on a pyre as the devil’s work.
And the fact is, who knows how far we are from this situation? Five years ago, we might have seen a similar commercial that went something like this: An Arab man in traditional garb gets on an airplane. Before the flight takes off, you see passengers around him looking anxiously at the man. One calls over a stewardess, and the stewardess approaches the Arab man and asks him to get off the plane.
The tag line, again: “What if America wasn’t America?”
Today, we wouldn’t be so surprised if this happened. Who knows, in five more years, maybe we will have Gestapo librarians pointing out curious students/secret agents to be taken away and have labotomies performed on them.
I just hope not.
Joe Roma is a junior majoring in political science.