Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I think he's too ungracious towards the political left, but Victor Davis Hanson argues that, for all our criticism of American society, we're forgetting how good we have it.

This is the most tolerant society in the world, the most multiracial and richest in religious diversity — and the most critical of its exceptional tolerance and the most lax in pointing out the intolerance of the least diverse and liberal.

It is market capitalism, unfettered meritocracy, and individual initiative within a free society that create the wealth for Al Gore to live in Montecito (indeed to create a Montecito in the first place), or for Michelle to jet to Marbella, or for John Kerry to buy a $7 million yacht. We know that, but our failure to occasionally express such a truth, coupled with a constant race/class/gender critique of American society, results in an insidious demoralization among the educated and bewilderment among the half- and uneducated.

In short, the great enigma of our postmodern age is how American society grew so wealthy and free to create so many residents that became so angry at the conditions that have made them so privileged — and how so many millions abroad fled the intolerance and poverty of their home country, and yet on arrival almost magically romanticize the very conditions in the abstract that they would never live under again in the concrete.

Of course there are (and always will be) plenty of things in society that are messed up, and we have a duty to alleviate them as much as we can. But by focusing exclusively on what's wrong we pass over what's right, and that inevitably leads us to having a distorted picture. If you only see the bad in society, you need to take a step back, rub your eyes, and take another look.

(see a previous dose of perspective here)

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