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Slightly OT: They are horrified by our freedoms

The other side will have eyes welling with tears whenever they sing God Bless the USA. They made a thing out of shrieking that “the terrorists hate us for our freedom”. But a lot has happened in 20 years. Back then, just before Al Qaeda struck, we were coming off the Clinton years. We had money in the bank, there was full employment, our First Lady acted like she wasn’t ashamed of working for a living. You know, stuff like that. Life was pretty good.

Then Gore “lost” the presidential election, Bush was anointed by the supremes, and the country took a gigantic lurch backwards in order to cater to the Ownership Class. You can interpret that anyway you like but all interpretations have been negative in hindsight.

Recently, The Handmaid’s Tale began its fourth season. Margaret Atwood wrote the book back in the 80’s and we all thought it was fantastic, as in a dystopian fantasy. But in the intervening years, so much of it has come to fruition right here in our own country.

This season, we see one character’s flashbacks to the time she had to take off precious time from work to get an abortion and instead, she mistakenly books an appointment at a crisis pregnancy center. There she is lied to, manipulated and delayed. All perfectly legal. When she finally gets to a real abortion clinic, the doctor is forced to read her another set of lies about how abortion causes cancer and infertility, all perfectly legal. Then the doctor says it’s BS, hands her the dose of her medication abortion and sends her home.

That’s bad enough because it actually happens in this country everyday. But what is really shocking to me is the foreign commentary on the Handmaid’s Tale. I’m referring to the podcast, Eyes on Gilead, a group conversation and review of the latest episodes of the Handmaid’s tale from the perspective of a handful of Australian female media and social critics.

Guys, they aren’t hating us. They’re certainly not laughing at us. They are horrified. I mean seriously horrified at the way the religious right have taken over this country. It makes you want to move to Australia where women are treated like sentient human beings with the ability to make their own decisions and paid maternity is the default, not a gift from your beneficent employer.

I got a scent of this feeling in previous seasons but in the wake of the Trump years, these Australian women are looking at American women with pity and concern. They do not hate us for our freedoms because we are one Supreme Court ruling from not having any. America is about to go the way of Poland where abortions are completely outlawed now. Or Russia where there is no protection against domestic violence. Australian women are looking at us as a cautionary tale. They feel lucky to live in a civilized world with the western Europeans, Canadians and New Zealanders while they watch America devolve into a backwater of ignorance and oppression.

It brings me back to the conversation Offred the Handmaid has with her owner, Commander Waterford about whether Gilead was a better place than the America Waterford worked so hard to overthrow in a violent coup:

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, is what he says. We thought we could do better. Better? I say, in a small voice. How can he think this is better? Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse, for some.

Who has it better in this America 2021? And who is about to lose it all?

The Handmaid’s Tale is available on Hulu.

Check out the review of episode “Milk” on the Eyes on Gilead podcast. Find out how the world really sees us.

It ain’t pretty.