What the Elites Take Exception to.
"special relationship" with those who hate us.
And yeah, sorry, even the ones we love
who hate us.
BIGGER. It's a slippery subject and I'm not surprised that your
answers were all over the map, ranging from black pessimism to deranged
fantasy (Trump?) to "I have no idea."
But the headline of the discussion is surely this: Given the worldwide
obsession with America, what's most shocking is how little even our
closest allies know about us. Almost as shocking is how willing we are, in our weak moments, to
credit their criticisms as valid, as if they were based on something
other than resentment, jealousy, and cultural blindspots a mile wide.
The real source of the abiding strength and resiliency of our nation is
a hidden thing, not because it is a small secret squirrelled away in
some recondite corner of history, but because it is too big for the
most sophisticated, and therefore most specialized and myopic,
perspectives to perceive.
I'm not making a subtle argument here. We're just plain bigger, more
various, more elemental, basic, deep, and natively passionate and
decent than all our naysayers, foreign and domestic, can comprehend.
Not a subtle argument but a huge one to frame. It can be posed in micro
and macro terms, and it can be demonstrated anecdotally, statistically,
and historically. My qualifications for posing it? I've been obsessed
with the "Big Picture" all my life. The most important thing I've
learned about the Big Picture is how few people are capable of seeing
it. All our education and acculturation is designed to cut the Big
Picture down to size, to reduce bigness to significant subsets about
which useful generalizations can be made. In this way, we are induced
to employ our own knowledge and intelligence against the possibility of
clear perception. And, of course, every observer brings to bear his own
selective blindness as a filter meant to distinguish between what is
good and bad, important and unimportant, relevant and dismissible. What
the observer fails to understand is that each of his judgments about
these distinctions is also a judgment on the size and scope of his own
I'm going to cite some examples. But I won't be giving you links. Look
them up for yourselves. That's part of the challenge of thinking out of
your own personal box and striving for the bigger perspective.
You'd think, wouldn't you, that our closest ally, the United Kingdom,
would have a better take on who we are than any other nation on earth.
The past few years, however, have shown that their view of us is
clownishly wrong, far more a reflection of their own national neuroses
than the superior intelligence our own intelligentsia routinely
to them. What they choose to admire in us is only that part of our
culture for which they can claim at least partial credit -- the
snobbish mentality of the American northeast, whose mounting atheism
and apocalyptic vision of western civilization is every bit as
parochial as their own.
Trivial vignettes. The popular asshole comedian Russell Brand wears a
Che Guevara tee shirt to an awards ceremony. Why? He's still fighting
the Brit class war and hasn't bothered to inform himself that Che
Guevara was a murdering thug. Simon Pegg -- the talented creative force
behind "Shaun of the Dead" -- has a new movie designed to ridicule
American protestant Christianity, about which he knows absolutely
nothing, personally or geographically. The atheism that is killing the
U.K. has to be projected somehow onto an American population as if our
belief is sicker than a dead, increasingly nihilistic monarchy which
has never been able to
assimilate the "wogs" it depends on more and more to do all the heavy
labor. Problem? The movie misses. It's just not accurate about who the
non-Anglophile American Christians might be. Ricky Gervais of "Office"
fame feels compelled to do a comedy about the "lies" all religion
represents. Funny? No. "Top Gear's" asshole muckraker host invades New
Orleans to piss on the American response to Hurricane Katrina and
simultaneously to feign outrage about the government's neglect of
Katrina victims and despise, finally, the poor black victims he so
superiorly champions. One of the very best Brit TV series, "Wire in the
Blood," is consistently intelligent, literate, and complex until it
does a special "movie-length episode" set in the American southwest, at
which point it turns into an avalanche of dumb stereotypes about
American hicks. The Brit version of "Law & Order" is obsessed with
homosexual rights and yet oddly revelatory in its dramatization of the
open persistence of racial prejudice in an institutional fashion that
is simply not
tolerated here. Fact is, they're still sniping at one another about
being Irish, Welsh, Scottish, English, Cornish, and Manx -- and panicking about the
dangers lurking in the segregated muslim sharia ghettoes they've created for themselves. What
could they possibly have to understand the far more successful American
detente among a hundred different nationalities and all the world's
races, with the lone exception of Australian aborigines?
Why focus on the Brits? Because the pipelines of the "special
relationship" between our two nations in the broader cultural sense
connect the U.K. with our two coasts, which reciprocate fawningly to
the detriment of the rest of us. (Meryl Streep libelling Margaret
Thatcher as a senile bitch? Please). The British Oscars, called BAFTA
awards, are now indistinguishable from our own academy awards. Same
movies, actors, and directors honored, for the same genuflections to
political correctness. But we still look up to them -- those accents,
don't you know. And on the east coast, there remains an incestuous,
insufferable kinship between the New York Times and the Times
of London and between the Ivy League and Oxford and Cambridge. What all
the smartest people are thinking; you know, the ones who really count.
Meaning the same intelligentsia who are still trying to steer the
American ship of state toward the same rocky shoals that have long
since turned the U.K. into a sunken disaster of a nation that has
lost not only its youngsters but its cultural luminaries and its own legacy
of law and
civilization. Without learning thing one about the American genius for
assimilating immigrants and combining their native strengths with the
American traditions of freedom, upward mobility, and social
equality as a fact, not a Hyde Park polemic.
And we're supposed to look up to them on the subject of national
Frankly, the Brits are the class of Europe, with the sole exception of
Italy, who are too disorganized to express their affection for us in a
way we can accept as a major vote of confidence. (Although we should.)
Point is, nobody knows us in our immense, effulgent glory. Our own
who presume to do it for us are every bit as parochial as the Brits --
who have a better bead on us than any other nation on earth. (No. Don't
mention Canada. The bitter, weak, younger brother. Nothing more.)
Bigger point. All of you
don't have a full comprehension of us either.
You have blindspots, geographical prejudices, causes, ignorant
assumptions, flat dismissals that are based on nothing you can really
America is bigger than you too, bigger than all of us. Every negative
generalization you make, or I make, is wrong at some level.
Closing thought. We are the people who came here looking for something
better. The ones whose common
trait by inheritance is a questing spirit, a refusal to submit,
surrender, or settle for less than we might accomplish with our hands
and minds and unremitting effort. We found it.
When you decide to give up, it's not a sign that America is done. It's
a sign that you are done.
Which means you have some work to do before you pass judgment on your
Taking exception to things American is both our birthright and our
obligation. But it's also an affirmation of American exceptionalism.
Until you deny what is so evidently, obviously, blatantly unique in the
history of human civilization. At which point, you're not worth much
more than Russell Brand in his Che Guevara tee-shirt.
Friday, March 04, 2011
repeats, but why this vicious little bitch?
YOU I'D BE BACK. One advantage of being older than most is that
sometimes you can recognize a stretch of track you've had to run
before. The question of who Obama is has finally been answered, and the
news is not good. He's Jimmy Carter.
A small man with a big phony smile, textbook smarts, and not an ounce
of common sense to ameliorate his arrogant presumption about being
better than the nation he's supposed to lead. The result is
depressingly the same. Economic stagflation, an entirely avoidable
energy crisis, chaos in the middle east, catastrophic foreign policy
weakness across the board, and a growing sense in the nation that
America is both rudderless and in
Those who are old enough to remember the bitter little cracker who
occupied the White House from 1976 to 1980 also remember that the pundits
started asking whether anyone could be a successful president, whether
the job was just too big to be manageable. Of course, these kinds of
doubts belong almost exclusively to liberals, progressives, Democrats.
Because they think the president's job is to run everything. Carter certainly tried.
He even personally micro-managed the schedule of the White House tennis
court. Obama doesn't care about tennis, but I can't wait for his March
The good news is that all this talk about American decline is tied
pretty directly to what has transpired since Obama took office, which
is to say that a weak, naive, self-absorbed president tends to sap the
national spirit in a significant way. The antidote is simple: a good
president. Which arrived promptly in 1980 with the election of Ronald
The bad news is that so far, there's no Ronald Reagan on the horizon.
Why conservatives are as depressed as everybody else this time around.
We have a blizzard of candidates. But sadly they're all weak sisters in
one way or another. It's the only
issue of importance in the nation. Until November 2012, we're just
taking our lumps, the inevitable fallout of a truly wretched president
who is as indecisive and ignorant of his responsibilities as he is
supremely confident of his superiority to the people, the democratic
process, and the complexities of the globe.
So it's time to remember a few verities and engage in some rigorous
Verities. America is not in
decline relative to the rest of the world. Yes, the world itself may be
having to take a step back and re-assess its course, but Europe is in
far worse shape than we are by every
measure, China is dangerously over-extended (remember when Japan was
going to own the world...?), Russia remains a gangster economy, the
Middle East is a pitifully violent and incompetent disaster, and South
America is lapsing into its old comedy shtick of banana republics and
overdressed military dictators. America has a bad head cold. Everybody
else is stricken with a life-threatening flu.
We still have the largest, most innovative and resilient economy in the
world, the greatest military the world has ever seen, and a population that
still -- despite all the malicious intentions of the progressives who
would divide us into hostile, spiteful factions -- regards itself as
American first and hyphenated second. No other country of such mixed
racial, ethnic, and religious makeup can say that. Not one.
What distinguished Reagan was his optimism, even, especially, in the worst of times.
That's the litmus test a conservative candidate must pass if we are to
retire Obama and return to our national greatness. The mission is not
to dream lesser dreams and make do with less. It's to remember the
vision of a shining city on a hill and plot the most direct path to its
We have a lot of work to do.
Thursday, March 03, 2011
I'll be posting again soon. Had a bad patch there. Couldn't breathe and
couldn't sleep because I couldn't breathe.
So I've been sleeping a lot since. And breathing too. It puts things in
perspective. I refuse to die before this assault on our country has
been turned back. The thing that quelled my panic about not being able
to draw a breath.
I thought, okay, you just get sick enough and then you die, but that's
when Raebert crawled into my lap, lay on his back, and wrapped a paw
gently around my neck. Not allowed to die.
So here I am. And thank all of you who expressed your concern. But
Raebert weighs more than all the comments. A hundred pounds more.