Fleming_05-1988
Perspective

Avoiding Democracy

Does America exist anymore, or is the nation only a fantasy concocted out of old Frank Capra movies, civics classes, and pamphlets from the Department of Education? The weight of the evidence suggests the latter. Twenty years ago—ancient history by the standards of the press—a considerable number of young men who refused to fight in Vietnam were willing to riot in the streets for the rights of Indians, Southeast Asians, and various American minorities; leaders of the American Indian Movement have from time to time claimed the rights of sovereignty for the tribal fragments living on reservations; Japanese Americans, while asserting all the rights of citizenship, sue the people of the United States for the mild, although not always justified, safety measures taken by Earl Warren and President Roosevelt in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor; and for several decades illegal aliens have been swarming across our southern border, finding refuge with dishonest fruit-growers and religious communities willing to sacrifice the public good to the inner light of personal revelation; their children, according to the courts, must be educated at the local taxpayers' expense because an American education is a basic human right for all the world's population. The rumors about American education must not have made their way down to Mexico.

National identity and the privileges of citizenship have been in conflict since the war for American...

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