July 7, 2006

I LOVE AMERICA, IT'S JUST AMERICA I CAN'T STAND:

WWFFD? Who cares?: Let's stop fussing about what America's founders thought, and let our minds run free. (Mark Kurlansky, 7/4/06, Los Angeles Times)

Someone has to say it or we are never going to get out of this rut: I am sick and tired of the founding fathers and all their intents.

The real American question of our times is how our country in a little over 200 years sank from the great hope to the most backward democracy in the West. The U.S. offers the worst healthcare program, one of the worst public school systems and the worst benefits for workers. The margin between rich and poor has been growing precipitously while it has been decreasing in Europe. Among the great democracies, we use military might less cautiously, show less respect for international law and are the stumbling block in international environmental cooperation. Few informed people look to the United States anymore for progressive ideas.

We ought to do something. Instead, we keep worrying about the vision of a bunch of sexist, slave-owning 18th century white men in wigs and breeches. [...]

To be honest, the U.S. was never as good as it was supposed to be. Perhaps no nation is. [...] Writer after writer, from British novelist Charles Dickens to the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville, arrived to discover less than they imagined. Tocqueville observed of American character: "They unceasingly harass you to extort praise and if you resist their entreaties, they fall to praising themselves."

Fanny Trollope, the English writer, made a similar observation in 1832: "A slight word indicative of doubt, that any thing, or every thing, in that country is not the very best in the world, produces an effect which must be seen and felt to be understood." I have no doubt the response to this article will show an America still unwilling to be criticized. But it is difficult for a society that accepts no criticism to progress. [...]

The founding fathers were all men of the establishment who wanted what Robespierre sneeringly called, when his own French Revolution was accused of excess, "a revolution without a revolution." John Steinbeck noted that the American Revolution was different from that of France's or Russia's because the so-called revolutionaries "did not want a new form of government; they wanted the same kind, only run by themselves."

Yet it is only with anti-establishment thinkers that a society progresses. [...]

So let us stop worshiping the founding fathers and allow our minds to progress and try to build a nation of great new ideas. That is, after all, the intent of the founding fathers.


Note the usual amusing tactic: Declare yourself sick of American ideals, spend all your time trashing the Republic's history and loudly trumpeting its shortcomings, and then expect people to take you seriously when you say it's the American thing to do.

Posted by Matt Murphy at July 7, 2006 6:33 PM
Comments

Mark doesn't realize that the anti-establishment thinkers are Americans(who aren't leftist), Corporations, business leaders of the world and people of the world who just want a fair chance to live a good life, and that he's part of the establishment, which of course, is being dismantled bit by bit, every day.

Posted by: KRS at July 7, 2006 7:30 PM

I thought criticism was and is the American thing to do?

Posted by: Jorge at July 7, 2006 7:48 PM

What Mark does is set up the things that he wants as the goals of all mankind. Nations progress as they implement his favored policies.

Posted by: Brandon at July 7, 2006 7:49 PM

I thought criticism was and is the American thing to do?

Just don't question their patriotism.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 7, 2006 7:52 PM

Jorge:

It's funny how he says criticism is American and also that Americans don't criticize themselves.

He's not just criticizing, he's pouting like a baby over everything that makes America distinctive, and then having rejected the standards he perversely tries to use them to uphold that rejection.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at July 7, 2006 8:07 PM

Anybody here remember the overrated Kurt Vonnegut having a character declare in Slaughterhouse-Five that other nations and peoples cherish their rags-to-riches stories but Americans don't? What was he smoking?

That's the kind of "criticism" that grates on the nerves of Americans: Absurd blabbering that is wildly at variance with the facts.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at July 7, 2006 8:13 PM

All their talk of "criticism is patriotism" is to insulate themselves from having to defend their own flaws and failures by changing the subject or from having their assumptions challenged.

Also so much of the Leftist "criticsim" of America is self-serving and in bad faith. Many of their "failures" are a matter of opinion, not facts, and should be treated as such. See the second paragraph in the excerpt cited for an example of this technique in action. Many of those things aren't flaws, but positives, or at least judgement calls that would come out different when we don't assume Leftist standards as our default criteria for judging them.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 7, 2006 9:07 PM

Note the nice preemptive strike here. Anyone who criticizes his column is only showing the stereotypical thin-skinned American resistance to criticism.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 7, 2006 10:35 PM

"The real American question of our times is how our country in a little over 200 years sank from the great hope to the most backward democracy in the West." Most backward, as compare to???

"The margin between rich and poor has been growing precipitously while it has been decreasing in Europe," where the rich are getting poorer because of the stagnated economies.

"Among the great democracies, we use military might less cautiously," we are the only one who has a usable military.

"show less respect for international law" which are deviced by unelected bureaucrats and tin-pot kleptocrats.

"and are the stumbling block in international environmental cooperation" Thank God (or Bush?) for that since carbon emissions per capita increase in the EU, and are held steady here.

Posted by: ic at July 7, 2006 10:38 PM

Yet they never leave...........

Posted by: Sandy P at July 7, 2006 10:48 PM

Why do I suspect that Kurlansky does not believe in "human nature" or any sort of eternal principles? Ready to perfect us all, he is.

BTW and not at all OT, a team of geneticists at UCLA have concluded that there are distinct gender differences in most, if not all, of our bodily organs.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 8, 2006 12:25 AM
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