From today’s Our View editorial:
If the spirit of the United States of 50 years ago has not disappeared, it certainly has dissipated. It is something other than what it was when the founders declared each individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This is baffling. While I agree that our country has much work to be done before we can collectively pat ourselves on the back, I think it’s patently disingenuous for anyone to suggest that America was more at one with its “values” fifty years ago than we are today– unless, of course, we are discussing torture.
But that’s not what the editorial writer(s) at the paper are suggesting. They’re upset because, in the wake of a possible global swine flu epidemic, the President reminded Americans to take precautions such as washing their hands and covering their hands when they cough. You see, such simple advice is “paternalistic” and therefore insulting to our precious sensibilities (oh and potentially heretical).
Such paternalism sounded extreme to anyone with a discerning ear, an audience that is much smaller than the nation’s population. Smaller still is the number of Americans who know that such direction coming from the president would be considered heresy by the father of this country, George Washington.
“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force,” Washington said. “Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
That Obama spoke as he did is not an indictment of him. Obama is smart. On the campaign trail, recall, he told Americans to inflate their tires to save energy — and 69,456,897 people voted him into office.
First of all, I have no special insight into how George Washington would respond to swine flu, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t label a President as heretical simply for giving Americans sound advice on prevention. And second, even though the meme about tire inflation was used recklessly by Republicans, inflating your tires has been proven to reduce energy consumption.
When Donovan Rypkema was in Alexandria last week, he talked with a small group of us about how (he believes) the world perceives Obama’s election in the context of America’s history. How is it that a country in which fifty years ago a black man couldn’t be served at the same lunch counter as a white man has elected a black man to the highest office in the land? Who can tell that story? Where will that story be told?
But despite the paper’s refusal to acknowledge the civil rights movement and the numerous advances made by women and other minorities during the past fifty years, there is another more glaring problem with the thesis presented by the paper:
If the spirit of this country has been diminished because of our current President, then why are applications for Teach for America up? Why are more young Americans applying to join the Peace Corps? Why does our President enjoy such high popularity- not just here in America but all across the world? Why is it that, for the first time in five years, more Americans now believe the country is headed in the right direction than those who think we’re headed in the wrong direction?
Don’t expect the newspaper to answer those questions. These editorials are written and published by the same group of folks who buried their heads in the sand throughout the Bush administration. Now that a Democrat is in office, in their view, America’s spirit has diminished, an opinion that attracts lunatics (that’s the kindest word I can muster) on their online forum who, while AGREEING with the paper, advance opinions such as:
We are heading in a downward spiral! America has said it does not want God thru its actions. The a socialist/terrorist, a friend of the enemy… and yep we are headed down.. Obama is a satanic tool!
Congratulations Gannett. You must be so proud.
Seriously, if you still doubt the enthusiasm and spirit of America, listen to the crowd at Grant Park in Chicago:
That’s the true genius of America: That America can change.