I hope that Stephen Pastis will forgive me I read too much into this. On his comic strip site, Pastis defines rat (pictured right) as “arrogant, self-centered, fatalistic, philosophical, and quick-tempered, Rat is obsessed with fame, immortality and making a quick buck. Spends his time with Pig because it makes him feel superior and, more importantly, no one else will hang out with him.” I think it goes without saying that such a rat symbolizes and epitomizes the American condition and the spirit of capitalism.
There are two possibilities that Pastis could have in mind when mentioning our eastern neighbors. The first could be the middle-east. This option, however, seems limited because most Americans do not “like” the Middle-East in this sense. Moreover, the press has spent a lot of time in documentaries, books, and news coverage on the wars that are going on in Iraq and President Bush’s feelings towards Iran. Israel is front page news for many conservative American Christians. The second–probably more likely–option is that the east refers to more classic “east” in the orient–namely China.
China has been known, as has America, for its historic isolationism. We often see the benefits of our neighbors on our toys and our technology with the phrase “made in China” conspicuously hidden on the bottom. We sincerely appreciate our neighbor, but we do not claim to understand them or to really care about them at all–our love is superficial. The last line, however, is as subtle but scathing indictment against President Bush’s foreign policy. Bush has the idea in mind that all nations must meet certain criteria before America will meet with them. In other words, if they won’t conform to American standards, then they will be left out of the world economy that America believes itself to run.
But in the process of not meeting nations like China, America has allowed China to become one of the world powers and left their technological and academic superiority unchecked. Many of our jobs are actually being outsourced to these areas. Perhaps Walt Disney, creating It’s a Small World, was a prophet in his own right. The world, with cell phones and computers, really is small.
But is ignorance really bliss???