Devotion to sincerity is considered a noble American trait even though the power of grandstanding often lurks in the shadows. Do Americans fear insincerity or the fact that real truth may exist within the insincerity? Or is everyone just confused? From the outside looking in, it would appear indeed that the United States is a rather odd and confusing place.
Even though the truth may set us all free, and our ancestors died for the right to express it, it is not always convenient or even easy to hear. Consider the recent appearance of Stephen Colbert, right-winger, late-night comedy TV star of the Colbert Report on the daytime show, The View. It is thought that his invitation to appear was sparked by the recent and rather uproarious appearance of rival, Bill O’Reilly from the Fox News Channel.
If grandstanding is sincerity plus, then O’ Reilly is a master of this questionable form of expression. While certainly his opposition to the controversial mosque at Ground Zero issue was shared by many and was his prerogative, his comment that he was against it because “Muslims killed us on 9/11” was beyond appropriate social commentary and meant to ignite, offend and arouse.
O’Reilly did apologize (sort of) for his comments, but his grandstanding tactics appealed to at least one producer who thought it would be a great idea to follow-up with a “fake O’Reilly.” Not to be outdone, Colbert announced cheerfully to the astonished cast:
“I think this studio would make a lovely mosque. We’re facing east, aren’t we?”
Colbert obviously adores being socially incorrect and not long ago he appeared before a US Senate hearing about illegal farm workers, causing a painful clash between satire and sincerity. One of his comments was:
“The obvious answer is for all of us to stop eating fruits and vegetables.”
Americans may not fear insincerity, but there is certainly profound confusion surrounding its application and expression.
For many of us the concept may always be a bit confusing. Consider this question:
Would a woman wear and be proud to own a real fake diamond?
Is that the same thing?
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