Perspective

Friday Breakfast

Robinson Crusoe, as the lit boys would say, is an "iconic" character, whose mastery over nature—and over the savage Friday—expresses the West's sometimes contemptuous sense of superiority over other cultures. In the 500-year-long iconoclastic age that is just now coming to an end, icons are made only to be broken, and in such films as Man Friday (1975) and, more particularly, Crusoe (1988), starring Rockford's own Aidan Quinn, the European is viewed as the enemy of nature and the destroyer of all that is real and authentic in human life. However, Crusoe turns out well in the end: After being subjected to a properly multicultural indoctrination, Quinn finally wakes up, joins the other side, and liberates a slave from a European ship.

Crusoe's indoctrination is virtually identical with the cultural education given to American (and European) students at every level. If the old "bigotry" taught us "European good, others bad," the new bigotry, without ever enlightening students on the facts of Chinese civilization or Aztec culture, simply reverses the terms. Most Americans know all this, or ought to. Students of literary history will recall that French surrealists, back in the 1920's, were saying much the same thing, and a few scholars might even be able to trace the anti-Western tradition back to 18th-century French intellectuals such as Voltaire and...

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