Print Story Peggy Noonan makes me proud to be an American
Diary
By lm (Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 08:02:29 AM EST) (all tags)
While I tend to prefer the editorial opinion of dry, left wing economists, last weeks column by the woman who is probably my favorite conservative columnistis worth a read.
On Setting an Example: Being a `beacon to the world' is more challenging than it sounds


Among other bits, I quite like this point ...
We introduce our culture to our new immigrants each day through television. Just for a moment, imagine you are a young person from Africa or South America, a new American. You come here and put on the TV, for even the most innocent know that TV is America and America is TV, and you want to learn quickly. What you see is an obvious and embarrassing obsession with sex, with violence, with sexual dysfunction.

I'm not certain I like the idea of all the US being judged by what gets televised of Paris Hilton on the tube.

And her concluding point that if we were to try harder to be better, if we were to try harder to be and seem as great as we are, we wouldn't have to bray so much about the superiority of our system, I'd like to see amended. If we were to try harder to be better, if we were to try harder to be and seem as great as we are, we wouldn't have to try to bring liberal democracy to other countries at gunpoint.

< But I'm near the end and I just ain't got the time | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
Peggy Noonan makes me proud to be an American | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Meh... by Bob Abooey (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 08:16:30 AM EST
I'm too cynical to even read the whole thing.

There are those whose impulses are essentially interventionist--we live in the world and must take part in the world (As long as it serves our purpose), sometimes, perhaps even often, militarily (As long as it serves our purpose). We are the great activist nation (As long as it serves our purpose), the spreader of political liberty (As long as it serves our purpose), the superpower whose meaning is made clear in action. (As long as it serves our purpose) Etc etc.

Ask the blokes in Darfur how great we are? Indeed. It's a shame there's no oil in Darfur, eh?

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

How's my blogging: Call me at 209.867.5309 to complain.

it's nationalist tripe. by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #2 Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 08:45:36 AM EST

When I'm imprisoned as an enemy combatant, will you blog about it?

[ Parent ]
That sums it up by Bob Abooey (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 08:50:56 AM EST
By the way - should be a good battle this week, eh? I must say your team is the one that gives me the most angst in my quest for the ring. Especially with a healthy Andre Johnson (going against the Browns horrific D this week) and a Randy Moss that's not human.

Indeed - this could be a preview of the Super Bowl.

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

How's my blogging: Call me at 209.867.5309 to complain.

[ Parent ]
Taoism by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Nov 20, 2007 at 09:23:54 AM EST
A Taoist would heartily approve of setting an example. But a Taoist would say that the best way to be an example is to live your own life and not concern yourself with setting an example.

It wasn't Radio Free Europe that helped bring the wall down so much as "Dallas" on West German TV. The US has only succeeded in spreading its values and its power when it wasn't trying to do either.

But regardless, trying to keep Paris Hilton off TV is not going to truly set an example. (Though it would personally please me immensely.) What would set the example is for us to be the sort of society that does not thrust people like Paris Hilton into the spotlight (or, even better, produces them in the first place.) It has to be real internal change, not Potemkin Village cultural imperialism.

In any case, there's a basic illogic to her argument. It is something like "Because we are superior, we need to spread our culture to the rest of the world, but this is hard, because there are so many obvious inferior bits that people see." In truth, a superior culture does not need to proclaim its superiority, nor does it even worry about such things.

She says this:

To be a beacon is to speak softly to the world, with dignity, with elegance if you can manage it, or simple good-natured courtesy if you can't. A superpower should never shout, never bray "We're No. 1!" If you're No. 1, you don't have to.
And yet the very column is predicated on the "We're No. 1!" attitude.

But really, if you are a new immigrant to our country, full of hope, animated in part by some sense of mystery about this country that has lived in your imagination for 20 years, you have got to think: This is it? This ad for erectile dysfunction? Oh, I have joined something that is not healthy.
In my experience, most immigrants to our country are too busy working for their own bit of the "American Dream" to give a shit about ads for erectile dysfunction. People know damn well how vacuous this country can be before they get here. Coming to America is like getting a job at a brothel. No one's surprised about all the whores.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
I'm unfamiliar with Taoist political philosophy by lm (2.00 / 0) #5 Sat Dec 01, 2007 at 03:13:18 AM EST
Does Taosim hold something similar to classical western political philosohy where the individual is a microcosm of society at large? If not, much of your criticism is misplaced. If so can you point me to some good reference on the question because I'm interested inhow Taoism resolves what seems to me to be an fairly large problem with regards to not only foreign relations but also day to day governance of society.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Countries by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #6 Sat Dec 01, 2007 at 06:23:19 AM EST
Taoism really only talks about behavior of leaders, not of countries. It's an individualistic philosophy.

To talk about what a "country" as a whole should do is to imply that leaders are making citizens of the country do something. Making anyone do anything is anathema to a Taoist.

So you are correct. The Taoist would refuse to talk about what the United States as a country should do.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Peggy Noonan makes me proud to be an American | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback