Monday, April 6, 2009

Impossible Today

A reader suggested I read some of Eric Hoffer's work based on what she thought of my thinking and writing. Much appreciation. He's a great read and almost prophetic in some places. At other times I find the scenarios he describes next to impossible. Take the chapter on Bernal Heights from his book In Our Time. Hoffer served for two years on the San Francisco Art Commission, a task he found dreary and boring. Except for one amazing incident:

There was a crowd of people in the back of the room when I arrived... The crowd came from Bernal Heights, a workingman's neighborhood, where people of different ethinic backgrounds live side by side. There were whites, blacks, Chicanos, Samoans, Indians, and some Chinese. The neighborhood had its share of loud-mouthed sekf-appointed spokesmen for minorities, but judging by what the crowd has to say, the militants were without a following. The people of Bernal Heights, most of them members of minorities, did not want to be minoritists. They wanted to be full blown Americans, members of one nation indivisible, and to symbolize this common aspiration they had decided to paint their schoolhouse, situated on the top of a hill, red, white, and blue. To do so they had to have the permission of the art commission, but our expert had vetoed the color scheme as garish. The crowd had come to put the case before the members of the commission and call for a vote.

They were well prepared. Their speakers spoke clearly and forcefully. The principal of the school spoke last. He was a middle aged, gray haired, neatly dressed, passionate Chicano, with a stars and stripes bow tie. He spoke of America the way a man speaks of the woman he loves. he had discovered America all by himself. It occurred to me as I listened to him that America is only appreciated by people who discover it. Some of us discovered America in the prison barracks of North Vietnam.

The commission voted unaminously to let the people of Bernal Heights paint their schoolhouse red, white, and blue.

Try imagining that happening in San Francisco today... Impossible right? Why? Because leftists are no longer liberal. Our culture has changed. As I have argued elsewhere, leftists are being perfectly rational and consistent when they eschew patriotism. There is no rational basis in their worldview for such a thing. In today's San Francisco no school principal of any color, religion, or sexual orientation would want to paint the school house red, white, and blue. Any flag except the American flag is welcome. On one level this is because their cultures and values have changed. They are no longer "liberals." They are postmodern leftists. The other reason they would not feel such urges as those minorities did is because they take America for granted as Hoffer suggests. If you do not discover America, you tend to take it for granted. I have always found the most patriotic Americans in my postmodern world to be immigrants who understand just how amazing America is, because they have something to compare it to. Everyone else just keeps expecting more from their country. Free health care, mortgage payments, more education...

The Left has managed to radically shift our culture from its original values. So much so that most youth don't even know what the original America was.

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