Saturday, October 28, 2017

Americans In The Year Of Our Lord 2017

     Courtesy of Ace of Spades, I just heard this remarkable statement, made in the Seventies by Canadian journalist Gordon Sinclair, for the first time:

     Forty years have passed since Sinclair issued that statement. Has anything changed? Why, yes: Americans have gotten rather tired of being expected to right all the wrongs of the world while being castigated as oppressors and exploiters. We've become irritated with the global assumption that we will defend right, uphold justice, and lift up the downtrodden whenever and wherever necessary, regardless of whether anyone else lifts a finger to do so. And for the first time since the Wilson Administration, there's a rising, possibly majority sentiment in favor of keeping to ourselves.

     After all, we've got troubles, too. Violence at political rallies and appearances by conservative spokesmen. A government riddled with corruption and time-servers. Major executive departments that use their unchecked powers for political purposes. An economy just beginning to awaken from a ten-year slumber. A middle class that can barely pay its bills. Significant public movements openly opposed to Christianity, private property, national sovereignty, the national borders, the traditional family, parental rights, historical memory, freedom of speech, the right to defend oneself, even the right to life. Untrustworthy news media. Major channels of communication increasingly monopolized by a few, highly intolerant corporations with a political agenda. An educational establishment hostile to knowledge and rational thought. Entertainment media that deluge us, day after day, with ill-concealed propaganda.

     But let some pestiferous concentration of violent savages on the other side of the globe suffer a flood, a volcano, or an earthquake, and at once the cry arises: "Where are the Americans?"

     It is rather wearying, isn't it?

     In February of last year, I wrote:

     There are reasons why the United States, as large, wealthy, and mighty as it is, cannot save other nations from their miseries. Those miseries are the logical consequence of the erroneous intellectual and emotional baggage toted by the denizens of other lands. Any aid we send to such places, whether or not it’s accompanied by our armed forces, will be dissipated without lasting effects, as surely as the morning dew will vanish under the caress of the sun. The most dramatic examples, such as Somalia, have been very bloody, yet these are not the most instructive.

     Some Americans, though as yet not a sufficient number, have absorbed these truths. That’s why there’s been a retreat from reflexive interventionism among private citizens. But the implication that hasn’t yet been widely enough acknowledged is that just as we can’t go there and solve their problems for them, we’ll become hosts to those problems to the extent that we allow them to come here.

     In that essay I was principally concerned with the tide of illegal immigrants we suffered. Though it's attenuated somewhat this past year, we continue to bear a large burden brought on us by decades of laxity about border enforcement and the demise of the assumption of assimilation. This morning I'm looking at the syndrome in a different light.

     The very peoples that expect the U.S. to save them from whatever ills might befall them are equally strident about their "right" to come here – and to bring those ills with them by refusing to assimilate. Peoples that feel no charity toward suffering others – peoples that have been known to cheer when others suffer! – seek to come here and remake our nation into a facsimile of theirs. Do you think any of them have pondered, even briefly, what that would mean for America's future attitude toward the troubles of their homelands?

     Americans' charity is an essential component of our national identity – our Americanism. It partakes of our Christian ethics, our sense of personal and national well being, and our predominant good will toward others. It cannot outlast the loss of those things. Yet the major sociopolitical and economic trends of our time have eroded all three of them.

     Allow me another self-citation:

     I also remember a truly bile-stirring denunciation of the Bush Administration’s response by Leftist critic Robert Rivkin:
     Why hasn’t the Bush administration shown some imagination in convincing the world that Americans really care and are prepared to make a small sacrifice to help victims of this astonishingly destructive natural calamity? In the wake of the administration’s default, why hasn’t the Democratic “opposition” proposed something that will demonstrate to the world that Americans want to help and are not “stingy”? Especially these days, a dramatic proposal to assist victims of mass catastrophe might also improve our country’s tarnished image in many places in the world.

     Here’s a simple proposal that would capture the world’s attention, and which a majority of Americans would almost certainly support. President Bush should announce that because of the colossal losses suffered by millions of people in Southeast Asia and East Africa, he will make an exception to his promise not to raise taxes. Bush should propose a Tsunami Disaster Relief Surtax for 2004 and 2005, with very simple components that everyone can understand.

     For example, the president could propose a flat $50 surtax applicable to every American tax return with an adjusted gross income of between $25,000 and $40,000; a flat $75 surtax on every tax return with an adjusted gross income between $40,000 and $80,000; $100 for incomes over $80,000, and so on. This small assessment for two years would produce many billions of dollars, which could be placed into a fund which would support infrastructure repair and development over a period of at least 10 years in the stricken countries.

     (The original article is no longer reachable. The above is a transcription that appeared in a 2004 article at Eternity Road.)

     Yes, Gentle Reader, you read it right. Rivkin was actually proposing a tax on Americans specifically to benefit – drumroll, please -- non-Americans! If memory serves, we fought a bloody war to be free from that. Of course, I wasn’t around that long ago, but the histories all agree on it.

     But I want to draw your attention to one specific phrase in that disgusting article:

     ...a dramatic proposal to assist victims of mass catastrophe might also improve our country’s tarnished image in many places in the world.

     In other words, Americans should be saddled with a tax specifically so that non-Americans will like us more!

     Yet Leftists wonder that we want no more of them.

     Dystopic would immediately recognize the principle operating above. In giving it a memorable name, he's done the nation a service it does not yet appreciate. Yet the unarticulated recognition of how our generosity is used against us is a great part of what put Donald Trump in the White House.

     And now for a complete swerve: a few mildly good words about our "allies," those endlessly sniggering Europeans.

     To the best of my knowledge, the nations of Europe haven't demanded anything much from Americans lately, other than our submission to insane "carbon taxes" to combat the imaginary hazard of "climate change." Moreover, when they belittle us, it's usually about one of two subjects: American cultural exports, and our love of firearms. At this time, given the Islamic invasions they're suffering, many of them are probably bitterly regretful that they gave up their firearms. Concerning American cultural exports, I can only say, once more and with feeling, chacun a son gout.

     So at least they don't expect anything from the moment. Okay, Euroweenies; laugh at our expense. You don't think much of us; we don't think much of you. But here's a friendly suggestion for the broadening of your viewpoint: Every now and then, look to the East. Take a good look at the nation that lies just beyond the former Soviet satellites. Think about the ruler of that nation and what he's done geopolitically these past ten years. Try to forecast his next moves and how the governments of your nations would respond. I'll say nothing more.

     As you can see, I'm no fan of the "world policeman" role the U.S. tacitly undertook after World War II. Now that the mission appears essentially impossible, a lot of folks yearn for those halcyon days of yore when it appeared that we were the world's power, that nothing we chose to oppose could stand against us. However, few of those yearners would willingly pay what it would take to regain that status...if, in fact, we ever possessed it.

     Besides, there was a lot of deceit built into it: a covert agenda of expanding the scope and heft of our political class under the overt one of maintaining "world peace." "Public men" will always want as large a "public" as they can muster. The "public men" of postwar America were merely more ambitious than any of their predecessors. They had mastered America, at least in their own minds. Next stop: the world.

     It wasn't businessmen fantasizing thus. American products and services had already reached every continent and had won approval from persons of every land. Our commerce really was ubiquitous. But politicians and their clients aren't much interested in commerce, except as a useful adjunct to their schemes.

     Popular sentiment found something agreeable in the idea of America as the world's guardian. Our political class marshaled it (excuse the pun) to its own purposes. And the blood and treasure of the greatest, most generous nation the world had ever seen was made to flow outward, to others' benefit and for others' use.

     An outward current not balanced by an inward one of equal magnitude cannot be maintained for long.

     Seventy years of outward flow, propelled by the frequent, strident suggestion that Americans have an obligation to help those of other lands, have weakened our nation and wearied our people. We're tired – and a portion of the fatigue arises from being often belittled, seldom appreciated.

     Americans' private generosity still exceeds that of any other nation. Yet like any effort that reaps unsatisfactory results, it can be quenched. Many of us have decided to redirect our charitable impulses back toward ourselves and our neighbors. There's a lot of good sense in that; charity really should begin at home, where the giver can observe the results and make whatever changes they mandate.

     It's at the national level that the problem is most acute. Our "public men" are unhappy with our desire to look after our own interests and let the rest of the world cope with its own problems. It limits their scope. It could mean that their names will receive a brief entry in the history books, if any. Besides, why should we have any say over the expenditure of our sons' lives and our hard-earned treasure? Where do we get off claiming a right to be left alone in peace and privacy?

     Perhaps this is all just an old man's ranting. Perhaps the weariness that comes with age is just too much with me this morning. All the same, I want no more of the world beyond our borders. Keep it away. Build the wall. End all foreign aid. Stop sending American military assets and troops to every canker on the globe. And for the love of God, stop treating the effusions and maneuvers of other governments and their satraps as something with which we should concern ourselves. Until they send expeditionary forces to our shores, let them kill, plunder, and oppress one another without our interference.

     That way, maybe we can all get some sleep.

1 comment:

CGHill said...

Interestingly, three versions of "The Americans" charted in the States: Sinclair's original, an editorial on Toronto's CFRB; a somewhat more polished delivery by Byron MacGregor of CKLW Windsor, across the river from Detroit; and a version by Tex Ritter, aimed at the country-music market. (Ritter, I think, is perfect for this kind of thing, but then I dearly loved his "Hillbilly Heaven.")