Wednesday, 23 December 2009 06:50

Duplicity in our Decade

by Manuel Rodriguez
Frank Rich of the New York Times writes, here, that the narrative of our decade has been defined by how easily we've all been duped by the con-artists in our midst. Collectively, Americans have become inured to the deception that surrounds our social, commercial, cultural and economic relationships.

Our vacuous minds have purposely ignored the fraying of these relationships and the resulting impact on our country because acknowledging this reality would require a painful acceptance of the cancer that is slowly consuming our society.

Rich notes that we have witnessed a decade of scam, fraud and misfortune in the likes of Citigroup, Fanny Mae, Ted Haggard, Enron, Madoff, Drier, housing, Stanford, AIG, Barry Bonds and Iraq, to name a few, and that Tiger Wood's fraud is merely the culmination of this era. Tiger's demise is all the more pronounced, writes Rich, because of his "sham beatific image, questioned by almost no one until it collapsed".

Rich emphasizes, though, that it is not Tiger's hypocrisy and our collective disappointment at yet another fallen hero that is remarkable, but the canyon-like gulf between Tiger's public image as a "paragon of businesslike discipline" and his "maniacally reckless life". A worse breach, though, reveals the lie of Tiger's near-obsessive dedication to building trust as the cornerstone of his public image, and also of Tiger as the paragon of corporate resoluteness and self-discipline.

Trust and its destruction have defined these frauds. Tiger purposely cultivated an image of trust and self-discipline, and ultimately became Accenture's standard bearer. Similarly, Enron, AIG, Fanny Mae and Madoff collectively hyped trust and reliability as the cornerstones of their businesses. Rich notes that "We keep being fooled by our leaders in all sectors of American life, over and over" and that after Enron, our financial leaders and government regulators should have been more careful in monitoring our financial landscape and critically analyzing the developing housing bubble.

The Tiger drama becomes but the latest example of this cancer, a drama which has been reduced to comical farce, freak-show, and circus tent. Tiger's saga is interesting not because it is the undoing of a celebrity, but because this painful collapse represents the culmination of a decade of duplicity, fraud and self-righteousness.

These frauds enshrined these celebrities and institutions with masks and accompanying standards which most ordinary Americans could never achieve, and which are antithetical and contrary to our innate, imperfect, human selves. Exposing these frauds removed the masks that these celebrities have worn and which most of us accepted as impossibly true.

Perfection was imbued in these institutions and stars, Tiger Woods as the paragon of trust, Enron as the standard of corporate America, housing's hysterical climb as the perfect asset. When measured against these standards, the rest of us were ultimately exposed as imperfect, flawed and incapable. These were impossible benchmarks to achieve or judge ourselves against, because they were ultimately revealed as scams or fiction, and yet their resolution quietly restored the vision of ourselves as flawed and imperfect, but human.

Shredding these masks returns our humanity and acknowledges that even the best among us, those near-perfect celebrities and stars, are indeed identical to us in their collective failures and misfortunes.

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  • Gianni Alaimo Thursday, 28 January 2010 14:51 posted by Gianni Alaimo Comment Link

    I agree! Great writing!

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  • Carlos F Concepcion Friday, 25 December 2009 08:50 posted by Carlos F Concepcion Comment Link

    Manny Keep up the good blog work. Remember, no one can fool us better than we can fool ourselves.

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