A View from Afar, with Martin S. Pribble

Author Emily Dietle

My focus is on state-church separation & social issues. I'm an avid reader, and feel that one of our most valuable tools is the free movement of information and ideas. | @emilyhasbooks

According to statistics, the vast majority who frequent this blog are from within the United States. Often, we Americans can become so steeped in our own media and local paradigms, that it becomes challenging to see a clear image of ourselves as a nation. In this blog series, you will be offered a ‘view from afar’ by atheists abroad, with their take on our politics and religious culture. Read the full series: Martin S. PribbleShelley SegalSylvia BroeckxTylzenRory Fenton, and Roger Ivan Hart.

For the third in this series, I present to you the views of Martin S. Pribble. American-born and raised in Australia, Martin believes in the importance of preserving human rights in the face of anything – either flawed thinking or the misguided policies it creates – that may infringe on them. A skeptic and atheist, Martin writes on topics of religion, politics, skepticism, feminism and equality, environment and philosophy at martinspribble.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @martinpribble.


Martin Pribble

There really is no “afar” anymore. With social media and the Internet being so prevalent in my life, I feel like The American presidential race is not just an American concern, but one of worldwide significance. It’s on our local news daily, it’s in our headlines and in our conversations. The Internet has shrunk the distance between Australia and our American brethren so that we now consider the goings on in the USA as one of our neighbours. Because of this, the presidential campaigns we see are top-of-mind topics for me.

We receive news about the incompetence and lies coming from the Republican Party, with the only news from Democratic supporters being large-scale face-palming and disbelief at the divisiveness of the other side. This is mostly because America still holds a position of power as a world leader in decisions around climate and economics, and will most likely be the ones dealing with problems we see arising in the Middle East on a one-to-one basis. As Lawrence Krauss once said to me, “America exports everything, if its not there yet, you just wait.”

We see from the Romney camp a gathering of racists, homophobes, misogynists and bible-bashers, screaming at the tops of their lungs any ideas that the republicans may tell, and yelling them as indisputable truths, no matter how far-fetched they may be. All the Democrats seem to be able to do is point out the errors in the Republican “arguments”, if you can call them that. Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney come across as incredibly smug, while the Obama and Biden camp seem level headed and grounded. There’s no doubting who I would vote for, since Romney and his ilk seem to be everything I stand against in life.

We face a similar problem here in Australia, one where we have to choose between Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor party, and Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party (don’t let the name “Liberal” fool you, in fact they are quite the opposite). We are not headed to an election just yet, but in the modern politics of the two-party system, the mood is always one of leading up to an election, no matter how far away it may be. Our political system here seems to be more like the American system every day, with the major difference here being the compulsory nature of the vote. In America, with the opt-in system, it seems that those who have the most to lose are the ones who don’t vote because “what difference would it make anyhow?” For us, having to vote, means we all get a say whether we like it or not. I know this goes against the American ideal of “Freedom”, but it does mean that when we vote someone into power that we are all liable for the outcome, not just the rich, or the corporate sector, or those who stand to gain from political decisions.

The polarisation between the mindless throngs of bible-toting, freedom-and-liberty-yelling, angry-at-something-but-not-sure-what-it-is, and the progressive-minded, altruistic and society-focused people if the USA could not be seen more clearly than we see right now.

Romney gives a voice to Charles P Pierce’s “Idiot America”, the people whose “gut” has more say in life than their heads do. They scream that they want more, that the other side will take away their freedoms, and that Obama is a Muslim. All the while their prospective preferred president an his people strive to take away the rights of women, to take away any kind of healthcare, to take away support for the lower classes, and to take away any kind of tolerance for those who may sit outside of the definition of “Middle America”; White, middle-classed and god-fearing.For the sake of America, and the rest of the world, I hope to see President Obama returning the White House again. If Romney gets in, I’m moving to the moon.