Todd Gitlin says there are those among us who "blame America first." Well,
America is a process of vast wealth and power, one that requires regulation.
At present, neither other nations nor even Mother Nature can effectively
control this process. Self is our only effective source of regulation. The
"Blame America First" group are among the proprioceptors that help keep our
nation from running amok. Their function is essential, and their efforts
should be applauded.
Flag-waving chauvinists are more to be feared. Patriotic fervor, coupled
with hostility towards America's critics, has a chilling effect on
self-regulation. Suppressing our nation's self-criticism is like numbing
one's self-awareness with alcohol. The frequent result is a drunk who has
difficulty standing, and is destructive to himself and to others.
My own orientation is utilitarian, while Gitlin seems to be writing from the
perspective of some civil or secular theology -- a Weltanschauung that
includes sharply honed concepts of right and wrong. Perhaps if Gatlin
revealed his philosophy of life, then I could appreciate his complaints.
Perhaps I could appreciate his extended profile of the sinners. Perhaps I
could discern the fuzzy line he draws between (1) sins against the state,
and (2) acceptable criticism of the state. From my own current perspective,
his complaints are of little value.
(Neither on a campus, nor in a coastal city)
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