Polemics & Exchanges

On Last Rides

I appreciated very much Scott P. Richert’s comments on what passes nowadays for American identity and how we wound up with rootless, abstract notions of “Americanism” (“Last Ride,” The Rockford Files, May).  Referring to the Americanization campaigns of the past, Mr. Richert pointed out that “It is relatively easy, in a modern, affluent, industrial society with a strong public-school system, to strip people of their ethnic identities.”  What the Americanizers failed to realize, however, was that their own sense of identity was already being undermined; The Pledge of Allegiance, Hollywood, and Irving Berlin, themselves thin gruel next to the organic patriotism that sustains real nations over time, were already being replaced by something even thinner, a globalized anticulture (“the unholy trinity of Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and McDonald’s”) that wasn’t really American at all.  I can only wince when conservative pundits crow about the spread of “American culture” and alleged “American values” around the globe.  We shouldn’t have had any problems figuring out “why they hate us,” especially when the “unholy trinity” is being forced down the throats of “undeveloped nations” by the Pentagon.

Mainstream conservatives...

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