Alan Duff: US 'weird and contradictory'

A population of 320 million, and the best the US presidency contest can come up with is him and her. Names are not needed.

He seems a pathological liar on virtually everything, including his grossly inflated wealth. It's his ego that's in the multi-billion class.

She lied about arriving by helicopter in Bosnia in 1996 that came under enemy sniper fire. The war there ended in 1995. An 8-year-old Muslim girl greeted her reciting a poem.

She's turned the tables on near every woman who claimed a fling or affair with her - likable - husband. Perhaps that's no different to a woman making a complaint to police saying she was raped in - let's just name a few of numerous countries - India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, (forget Arab countries as no woman ever dares report rape) only to be charged herself with making false accusations, trying to destroy a good man's reputation and often as not jailed for being the victim.

Americans are funny about sex. Bill's moment caused a shrill outcry that still echoes today.

Yet JFK is admired, never admonished, for being a serial womaniser. Janet Jackson exposed a nipple on the Super Bowl final stage and the booing and bellowed outrage echoed round the world. Well, she is black.

The movie based on my first novel was deemed too violent for general screening in America. When almost every American-made movie has the obligatory dozen graphic murders, minimum.

This is why they're down to her and him: they're weird and contradictory.

Add extraordinary, self-believing, wilfully ignorant, gloriously ambitious. But far from free, much as they claim to be "the freest nation in history."

Brock Turner, caught red-handed raping a woman and sentenced to a feather-slap six months in prison, got out yesterday having served 3 months. He's white and educated. A black man who this week refused a plea bargain deal that would see him a free man, instead got 40 years' jail. He has a criminal history but none of it serious.

NFL star Colin Kaepernick, of the San Francisco team, refused to stand while the national anthem was played. He's half black and stated he wasn't paying respect to a nation that treats blacks so badly. That nation largely turned on him, essentially saying "Don't you dare disrespect our national anthem. Don't care if you black people have suffered 400 years of injustice. You ain't got the right to tell us white folk the truth."

That's why the presidential race is down to him and her: Hypocrisy and denial are perfectly all right just as long as you're the majority.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking America per se. I'm just trying to get my head around why these are the last two standing in the presidential contest.

In trying to understand how their justice system works, so to perhaps gain a broader understanding of the nation, my only conclusion is that Americans have a vengeful side to their cheerful Christian image meant to be forgiving.

There are about 50,000 people serving non-parole prison sentences. Over 3000 who committed a serious crime as a child are locked up forever. Tens of thousands in prison for incredibly long periods who committed no crimes of violence. And one of the few Western countries to have capital punishment.

Yet they are the most philanthropic nation in history, with hundreds of billions given back to society. They produce the best business people, some of the best scientists, they rule in technology - the list is longer than the 740 word-count of this column. It's enough to say America's contribution to the world is singularly magnificent.

Compared with philanthropy in Europe, one man, Bill Gates, has donated more than all Europeans combined. Gates is just one of a column of American givers that stretches beyond the horizon. Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has pledged 95% of his fortune to charity.

But back to her and him.

He's a loose cannon ruled not by his heart but by his lacking an internal switch that enables self-reflection beyond that grotesquely inflated Me, Myself and I.

She's hobbled by her falseness, her easy dismissal of any argument, facts, propositions that go against hers. As well, she is possessed of an ego with an eye for history in her relentless partnership with her husband where they've raised an incredible US$2 billion-plus for their foundation.

I guess the world has to take the lesser of two evils.

- NZ Herald

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Alan Duff

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