I could spend my final column in The Sun wistfully lamenting the passing of these years spent perched far above Cayuga’s waters, but I’m sure there are others waiting to step into that breach. My tales are much too inane for general consumption, so a meditation, if it deserves such a term, on my time in this country seems a better choice than bland personal anecdotes. Though I suppose it is precisely the inanity of the anecdotes that makes the profundity of the meditation.
There are things one notices only after having lived in a country for some time. Small things that tourists would not recognise. One such thing, in this country, is cable TV. In Britain, the medium occupies the margin of culture. The news comes on and then it goes away, to be replaced by some idyllic Crown Abbey or strapping Sherlock Bond.
In America, the news is everywhere. The Central Park Five; Georgia’s Sixth; “black male on foot.” The land of ultimate freedom looks into every crevice of a dead man’s life praying to find where he must have gone wrong. Western highways are populated by billboards offering salvation and sin, flickering in the passing headlights. Churches sit opposite crucifixes in flames.
America is at a time of change. The cyclical threat of the Other is shackled to systemic changes that cannot be reversed, no matter what one man may say. Do the ideals on which America was founded apply to all created equal? Whether America sees this as a negation of its heritage or its evolution cannot yet be known. However, it is the fundamental contradictions upon which America is built that convinces me it must be the latter.
Alex Davies is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the last edition of Have I Got News For You?