Tuesday, July 05, 2005Worth Reading
Billmon's Fourth of July post.
I seriously considered trying to write an America-sympathetic post yesterday -- it seems like a useful chore for us liberals who are so often tarred as "anti-American" -- but I found that the only worthwhile sentiment I could come up with is this:
The thing about America is, whatever we are as a nation of people, we're also the opposite. In some ways that's a good thing; for every Nathan Bedford Forrest we produce, we also produce a Martin Luther King, Jr. On the other hand, for every Franklin Delano Roosevelt, we get a George W. Bush. We're optimistic and friendly and eager to reward good work; at the same time we're arrogant, xenophobic, and blinded by greed. And I'd like very much to think that this messiness is an inherent part of America's inevitable march towards enlightened progress, that we're still a work in progress and not an over-reaching empire in the early days of a long, dark decline -- but in these times, that's a difficult vision to maintain.
There was a time when I was convinced that my generation (and those just after) would be the first to see major emigration from the United States to other countries in search of "a better life." I lost touch with that idea some years back, but I've found it recurring more and more often recently. Some argue -- and I understand their position -- that leaving is the coward's way, and they may well be right. I hope very much that this country, of which I am wholly and profoundly a product (I'm nothing if not thoroughly American, even if I choose to define that along different lines than many of my antagonistic European friends) can find its way back to reason and moderation, or at least stop its slide before there's really nothing left of "America" in us. But at the same time, my ultimate allegiance is to humanity and the world we all share; if the United States is no longer supportive of that, there are other places that might be. |