Friday, July 06, 2007

Proposition Nation


The intrepid Carol Iannone (above) has been devoting no small portion of her cognitive horsepower to the vast conundrum of America, and has come to the conclusion that Our Great Nation can be viewed in two ways:

The first concept is that America is a proposition nation—dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal—and that she consists of ideas—freedom, equality, democracy, self-government—which are the entitlement of all men everywhere. This is the view of President Bush and Condoleezza Rice....

The second concept is that America is indeed based on universal ideals, but that she is also a concrete nation, with a specific history that made these ideals manifest, a culture that is especially suited to the realization of these ideals, and a people that have been cultivated to their proper exercise. This view is reflected in William Bennett's article linked this week at NRO.
What will it be, gentle reader? Do you hold with George W. Bush and Condi Rice that America instantiates the proposition that equality is the entitlement of all men everywhere? Or do you prefer William Bennett's more gemütlich vision of a concrete America, with a specific history, and a culture suited to that history, and a people suited to that culture?

Before you answer, you'll want to consider these important philosophical implications of your choice:
Holders of the first view find that our universality is the basis of what they love about America. Ironically, this often has them focused on our flaws, since the universal rights have not been perfectly realized.

Those who profess the second view will often gratefully focus on America as a concrete nation and the marvelous extent to which we have fulfilled these lofty ideals. They also express concern that the ideals can be lost if we do not trouble to preserve them and pass them on in a way that inspires our young people They hold with Ronald Reagan that "freedom is fragile and rare," and believe with Jefferson that "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
You may think these views are so irreconcilable that the only way to settle the matter is with a new civil war. But that's only because you fail to realize that the universal propositions which entitle us to pursue concretely the cultivated exercise of fulfilling our lofty ideals will inevitably oblige Bushian propositionalists and Bennettian concretarians to lay down their daggers, and proclaim with one voice the transcendent truth that queers ain't normal, and shouldn't oughta get hitched.

Granting that Phi Beta Cons is not exactly a hotbed of perspicacity, Iannone's colleagues are surely bright enough to understand that she's a blithering crazy person whose every utterance constitutes a menace to the orderly mind.

(Photo at top: "The Babbling Head," via RobotGroup.org. Click here to see it sing "What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor?")

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Basic to cretinous w and Bennettini concept is the Not One of The Masses modus operandi. From their delusional cloudlands anything is possible, and they can't see any power other than their own. Rule of Law is going to be a big, big shock when they don't have the DoJ in hand.

from Ruth

Tena said...

I'm not thrilled with the choices here, frankly. EIther/or? grumble grumble grumble.

Both use "freedom" as a handy weapon with which to beat everyone who isn't them over the head.

And I suspect that t'was ever thus, here in this place called "America," and who the hell knows what that means...

Phila said...

I'm not thrilled with the choices here, frankly.

You're just anti-everything.

Anonymous said...

Hey Phila, you solicited items for Fri. Hope Blogging over at Atrios (about an hour ago it appears.) Hope this is not too late--

Maybe the Giant Resin Bees Will Save Us.

Link therin is to the Nashville Tennessean. They have the picture. Pretty cool story anyway, you could toss corrente a linkee if you are so inclined.. :)

==xan