Monday, January 31, 2005

Moral Outrage

Still reading Cornel West - Democracy Matters. Anyone else out there reading it?

I found two very interesting quotes and I am going to do them in reverse pagination order, just for fun:

[on page 103] The moral outrage provoked by the arrogant militaristic policies, pro-rich tax cuts, and authoritarian excesses of the Bush administration arise out of this deep well of democratic commitment and are a hopeful sign that a democratizing resurgence may be underway. And it is neither naive nor quixotic to talk about a democratic awakening in the face of the corruption shot through our political and economic system. Our history shows that stirring the deep commitment to democratic values and mandates does make a difference. But we must not confuse this democratic commitment with flag-waving patriotism. The former is guided by common virtues forged by ordinary citizens, the latter by martial ideals promoted by powerful elites. Democratic commitment confronts American hypocrisy and mendacity in the name of public interest; flag-waving patriotism promotes American innocence and purity in the name of national glory.

[and back to page 77] American self-confidence, he [Ralph Waldo Emerson] argued, should be grounded not in a narrow chauvinistic claim about the superiority of the American way but rather in a mature affirmation of America's gifts to the world as well as candid acknowledgement of the "most unhandsome part of our condition." Cheap American patriotism not only reflects an immaturity and insecurity, he warned, but also is an adolescent defense mechanism that reveals a fear to engage the world and learn from others. Narrow nationalism is a handmaiden of imperial rule, he argues - it keeps the populace deferential and complacent. Hence it abhors critics and dissenters like Emerson who unsettle and awaken the people.

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