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America’s split personality: Paranoid superstate and land of equality

At the close of one of the most momentous news weeks in recent history – with a historic step forward for marriage equality, a historic disembowelment of voting rights and the United States coming off like an incompetent supervillain in the hunt for Edward Snowden – we’re faced once again with utterly confusing signals about what kind of country we live in. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the deepening similarities between our society and the imagined dystopias of “1984” and “Brave New World,” but it’s important to acknowledge that that isn’t the whole story. At the same time, American society remains immensely dynamic, and has become far more diverse and tolerant over the last several decades. I know this is a metaphorical misuse of a clinical term that refers to a serious and complex mental disorder, but at least in the old-fashioned, split-personality sense of the word, America is schizophrenic. For that matter, I’m not so sure we can rule out the clinical mental disorder either.

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