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Monday, March 19, 2007
Why Do We Hate Us

Michael Barone takes a hard look at that question:

Where does this default assumption come from? And why is it so prevalent among our affluent educated class (which, after all, would seem to overlap considerably with the people being complained about?). It comes, I think, from our schools and, especially, from our colleges and universities. The first are staffed by liberals long accustomed to see America as full of problems needing solving; the latter have been packed full of the people cultural critic Roger Kimball calls "tenured radicals," people who see this country and its people as the source of all evil in the world.

As Barone notes, these theories don't get accepted explicitly, but the underlying spite for the US and its values gets absorbed into the implicit worldview. Which is a shame, since the US is a force for good in the world:

What they have been denied in their higher education is an accurate view of history and America's place in it. Many adults actively seek what they have been missing: witness the robust sales of books on the Founding Fathers. Witness, also, the robust sales of British historian Andrew Roberts's splendid "History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900."

Roberts points out almost all the advances of freedom in the 20th century have been made by the English-speaking peoples -- Americans especially, but British, as well, and also (here his account will be unfamiliar to most American readers) Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders. And he recalls what held and holds them together by quoting a speech Winston Churchill gave in 1943 at Harvard: "Law, language, literature -- these are considerable factors. Common conceptions of what is right and decent, a marked regard for fair play, especially to the weak and poor, a stern sentiment of impartial justice and above all a love of personal freedom ... these are the common conceptions on both sides of the ocean among the English-speaking peoples."

The US has its flaws; even conservatives agree with liberals on that point (although they certainly disagree on what the flaws are). But it also has systems in place to correct those flaws, and anyway the flaws are minor compared to most other countries.


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