March 3, 2023


Is it Morning in America, or High Noon?: The question we need to ask ourselves isn't so much what we choose to do, it's what we choose to believe about ourselves. (Justin Stapley, 3/03/23, Self-Evident)

Contrary to the very forceful and negative responses of people like John Wayne, I enjoy High Noon and find value in the realist approach. I recognize the foibles and failings of fallen man and understand that human nature often fails to live up to its potential. I think High Noon demonstrates one of the cycles we often see in the history of human society. People blessed with peace and prosperity, thanks to the sweat, blood, and tears of those who came before, often demonstrate a distinct lack of gratitude for what they have and a cowardly unwillingness to defend the things they take for granted. I don't think every story we tell has to be one where everyone does the right thing and all's well that ends well. The extraordinary must be contrasted with the common, the ordinary, and the indifferent if it's to be valued.

But, just like the cycle evident in the film, popular culture and society go through these cycles of gratitude and ingratitude, hopefulness and cynicism, bravery and cowardice. High Noon's darker theme was a big deal when it was released. But its narrative does not stand out much in contemporary society. Indeed, we are so awash with cynicism and nihilism in cinema, in anti-heroes and villains who are "just misunderstood," that what stands out are those rare moments of stark black and white (derided as campy or too uncomplicated by critics). And in our broader culture, in things like politics and how we interact with each other on social media, we have gotten ugly, petty, and cruel. We don't just disagree. We hate. We don't just dismiss. We cancel and hound. It would be very easy to conclude that it's High Noon in America, and those few who try to stand for values and their principles are going to stand alone.

Beloved Children, [...]

For it was more than human tragedy. Much more than Alger Hiss or Whittaker Chambers was on trial in the trials of Alger Hiss. Two faiths were on trial. Human societies, like human beings, live by faith and die when faith dies. At issue in the Hiss Case was the question whether this sick society, which we call Western civilization, could in its extremity still cast up a man whose faith in it was so great that he would voluntarily abandon those things which men hold good, including life, to defend it. At issue was the question whether this man's faith could prevail against a man whose equal faith it was that this society is sick beyond saving, and that mercy itself pleads for its swift extinction and replacement by another. At issue was the question whether, in the desperately divided society, there still remained the will to recognize the issues in time to offset the immense rally of public power to distort and pervert the facts.

At heart, the Great Case was this critical conflict of faiths; that is why it was a great case.

Whittaker Chambers

Kissinger, Metternich, and Realism  (Robert D. Kaplan, June 1999, Atlantic Monthly)

In perceiving the Soviet Union as permanent, orderly, and legitimate, [Henry] Kissinger shared a failure of analysis with the rest of the foreign-policy elite--notably excepting the scholar and former head of the State Department's policy-planning staff George Kennan, the Harvard historian Richard Pipes, the British scholar and journalist Bernard Levin, and the Eureka College graduate Ronald Reagan.


You ever had an epiphany--one of those moments where the scales fall from your eyes, the light dawns, the voices speak, and in one blinding insight that which was obscure becomes crystal clear? I had one this morning and am very angry with myself for not realizing this before. David Gregory, NBC's White House Correspondent, was on Imus in the Morning today and he was asked about George W. Bush's U.N. appearance tomorrow. He revealed that--with half the nation and most of the world expecting the President, like a dutiful and chastened schoolboy to present a kind of book report about Saddam trying to develop nuclear weapons, and then grovel for a UN mandate to do something about it--Mr. Bush is instead going to confront the member nations and the institution itself and ask: What more do you need? He'll discuss the many UN resolutions that Saddam has violated and ask what the purpose of the body is if they're unwilling to enforce their own diktats. He'll demand, though one assumes politely, that either the UN act immediately in accordance with its own previous decisions, or we'll act for them. And with that, like Jake Blues entranced by The Reverend Cleophus James, I saw the light: this is High Noon.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 11, 2002 1:11 PM

President's Remarks at the United Nations General Assembly (Remarks by the President in Address to the United Nations General Assembly, New York, New York, 9/12/2002)

Posted by at March 3, 2023 12:54 PM