As usual, Victor Davis Hanson at NRO has a wonderful article that talks about "A Return to Childhood". In it he makes some stark points about some of the pre-September 11 thinking going on in the U.S. today, and the desire to make things the way they were before--when everyone supposedly liked us more than they do today.
"European elites, it is true, are angry at the United States. But that pique is more a result of projection and scapegoating rising from its own problems, not ours — as it struggles with demographic crises, unassimilated immigrants, impotence abroad, an embarrassing desire for free American protection despite concomitant resentment and envy, and a growing realization that while the world talks up the EU, when it has real problems, it goes to Washington."
Later, he asks us to consider how it things might have been in America in January, 1941:
"So envision a Vice President Henry Wallace lecturing the American people on its failure to win the hearts and minds of European youth. He perhaps would say something like, "What have we Americans done wrong to lose millions of Spaniards, Italians, Germans, and Japanese, who turn their back on democracy and prefer fascism?"
Roosevelt then might expound further, "Look at the world! We don't have an ally anywhere but Britain. What have we done to earn the animus of most of Europe that has either joined Hitler or would prefer to be neutral? Why is all of Eastern Europe against us? Whether Communist or fascist, Russian or German, the common enemy is either the United States or England. All Stalin and Hitler can agree on is shared dislike of America. Why? Even Mexico and South America feel more affinity for Germany than for the U.S."
Then a congressional board of inquiry could issue a finding that America had failed to give proper aid to Europe during the depression. It could suggest further that we are isolationists and self-absorbed. More thoughtful senators, the intellectual precursors of a Patty Murray perhaps, could rail that whereas Hitler built autobahns, we lent out high-interest loans to those who were already struggling.
All such browbeating would have an element of truth in it, but, of course, in its totality remain an outright lie: Hitler, like bin Laden and his epigones, was the problem, not us. The only difference is that our grandparents knew that and we don't."
"In a word, we have devolved into an infantile society in which our technological successes have wrongly suggested that we can alter the nature of man to our whims and pleasures — just like a child who expects instant gratification from his parents. In a culture where affluence and leisure are seen as birthrights, war, sacrifice, or even the mental fatigue about worrying over such things wear on us. So we construct, in a deductive and anti-empirical way, a play universe that better suits us.
In that regard, for the moment George Bush is a godsend. His drawl, Christianity, tough talk, ramrod straight strut — all that and more become the locus of our fears: French and Germans on the warpath? They must have been Bushwhacked, not angry that their subsidized utopia — from a short work week, looming pension catastrophe, and no national defense — is eroding. "
Hanson has grasped some of the psychological truth about what is going on in the U.S. today. The increasing hysteria and rabid hatred of Bush on the Left; the mood-swings of the media; the contradictory and cognitively dissonant expectations of the public--all point to a deep failure to come to terms with reality. If we as a country embrace the pre-9/11 thinking, it will mean that we have turned our backs on the responsibilities of adulthood and cocooned ourselves in a childhood fantasy where we are safe and loved again. Nice try, kid, but the real world won't go away just because we want it to. Grow up.
Read the whole piece, please!