Re: [sixties-l] Todd Gitlin: Blaming America First (fwd)

From: Richard Waddell (
Date: Mon Jan 14 2002 - 20:33:42 EST

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    Todd Gitlin says there are those among us who "blame America first." Well,
    thank goodness.

    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.

    Richard Waddell
    Bartlesville, Oklahoma
    (Neither on a campus, nor in a coastal city)

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