American Idolatry
0 comment Tuesday, July 29, 2014 |
This piece by the columnist 'Spengler' came to my attention today. I had an immediate and strong reaction to it: his observations come across as condescending, arrogant, and ignorant.
Who is this guy, Spengler, anyway? Here is a thread from Gene Expression which asks that question.
Whoever he is, my impression is that, first, he is (contrary to some of the posters in the above thread) not American, given his lack of knowledge of real America, and, second, he considers himself the intellectual, with the usual contempt for the hoi polloi.
Most of us Americans, that is, red-state true Americans, have a natural aversion to that type, so I admit to having a bias there.
So, I read a few more columns by Spengler, on the subject of America, in which he opines and pontificates about us.
But the latest column, 'American Idolatry' was the most obnoxious, from my perspective.
Spengler, up on his high horse (which is his usual perch, by the way) denounces American popular culture as a 'culture of resentment'; he says that Americans shun 'high culture' and elevate mediocrity. He implies that we choose and prefer dumbed-down entertainment like country music, which he disparages as self-pity and dismisses country folk as complaining losers, unworthy of their depiction in 'high art' like Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath.
Some country-music fanciers no doubt will find this callous, and I want to disclose that I do not care one way or another whether their wife left them, their dog died, or their truck broke down.
And Spengler reserves special scorn and ridicule for Hank Williams, which further diminishes his opinions, for me at least.
Oddly, Spengler seems to imply that rock music is a degraded offspring of what he considers trashy country music. I say this is odd, because he seems to revere black music (singling out black gospel music as a great art form) but doesn't see rock music as black-derived as most critics insist. But I agree with him; rock has its roots in country music much more than black music.
Still, Spengler's distaste for poor country folks just drips from his writing.
He bemoans the fact that, as he sees it, Americans have rejected authority 'from on high'; they prefer music made in their own self-image instead of the sublime works like Handel's 'Messiah'. He cites this rebellion as tantamount to the rebellion of Adam and Eve, and other such primal sins. I call this a rather bathetic bit of hyperbole, myself, comparing a preference for country music to the fall of Man in Eden.
And incidentally, Spengler, that 'African-American' spiritual music you adore so much is said to have its origins in Scotland, according to this article from last year.
Spengler is fond of saying that American culture is an oxymoron, and he further says in this piece that Americans not only can't laugh at our own culture, but we in fact have no culture, no collective character, no defining traits.
He goes on at some length, to support this idea of America as simply a Babel of conflicting and disparate cultures, by mentioning many writers such as Saul Bellow, Gertrude Stein, et al, as exemplars of the 'melting pot' ethos in America. He quotes Stein's famous line about Oakland, California: 'There's no there there', and says this phrase describes America. If there is, truly, no 'there' there, it's because there is and has been an all-out assault on our heritage, our traditions, and our national character. What better way to dismantle a country than to introduce millions upon millions of strangers from utterly alien cultures, who have contempt for our history and at best, indifference to our way of life, or who in fact want to transform this country into a replica of their foundering homelands?
So sadly, there is some truth in what he is saying. America is losing the qualities which made it recognizably American. As one of the dwindling number who still holds to traditional America, America as it was before the cultural Marxists and the melting-pot ideologues and the revisionist 'historians' from the Ministry of Truth had their way, it pains me to say that there is a grain of truth to what he is saying.
Too many of our younger generations, those who have no first-hand knowledge of America in the B.P.C (before Political Correctness) era, believe that America is just this characterless crazyquilt, made up of many clashing, dissonant bits and pieces of secondhand cultures. Just check the comments by this blogger, in response to Spengler's article:
The US is anything but homogeneous: we are the natural home of every race, ethnic group and religion on the face of the earth, so we embody not just a few but every cultural trait. We're kinda like the first citizens of the world, so to speak.''
Sad. Sad, sad. What would our Founding Fathers say to such assertions? Did our forefathers struggle to create this country, to establish it, and did our dads and grandfathers fight WWII so that America can be the 'home of every race, ethnic group, and religion on the face of the earth?' I guarantee you, they did not. They risked their lives, and many lost their lives, to preserve this land as the country they grew up in and loved, an America which was not 'all things to all people' but an America with a distinctive English-speaking culture. Our Founding Fathers created this country for themselves and their posterity. Some Americans don't seem to know what 'posterity' means. It does not mean everybody in the world.
So thanks to those who have spread the idea that this nation is everybody's and nobody's, just a multicultural gumbo with no dominant flavor, just a derelict old house to be inhabited by squatters, America is losing the distinctiveness it once had. In fact, if Spengler ever gets around enough to visit all the Western countries, he will see the same process at work. Is England still English? I understand it's Politically Incorrect to be English now, because it isn't 'inclusive' enough; after all, it's absurd to think that a Pakistani can ever become 'English'; an Englishman is white and European, after all.
I have not been to London in some years, and from what I have heard, I would not want to return; the old London is no more, apparently. I hear that Ireland is changing too, via immigration from the Third World. And everywhere this process is happening, the national identity is under assault. To preserve traditional European cultures is being made a 'hate crime' it seems. Where is Spengler on all this? This is the real war that is going on, not that sideshow in the Middle East. The real war is within Western countries, and the first casualty is our national identity and our traditions.
And in the name of 'multiculturalism' and 'inclusion' and non-offense, we will be deprived of our freedom of speech and freedom of the press and freedom of association.
So yes, Spengler is in a sense right, hence my choice of the name 'vanishing American.'
Once upon a time, though, back at the inception of our country, there was no doubt that there was a distinct American character. See Edmund Burke's comments in a speech he made in 1775:
In the American character, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole.
'This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English colonies [of America] than in any other people of the earth.'So Spengler, in decrying the American rejection of 'authority' is acknowledging the same distinguishing trait noted by Burke some 231 years ago, when this country was an English colony.
But as so many disparate groups of people, with differing traits and traditions were introduced into our country, this national identity began to dissolve. The 'melting pot' has done its corrosive work on the American character. Less and less are we collectively displaying the traits that so distinguished our colonist ancestors. Maybe that is partly because so few of us in America today are in fact of the same blood as those doughty colonists. And for many that old-stock heritage has been attenuated by many generations of admixture with differing people. We are in a sense not the people we were back in 1775.
Despite what the Politically Correct wishful thinkers say, there is a genetic component to character, personality, and temperament. We are decidedly not 'blank slates' which can take on, chameleon-like, the color of our surroundings. We are our fathers' children.
And if there is any hope for reversing the destruction of our country, I think it will be up to us, the descendants of the original old-stock Americans, the sons and daughters of those Englishmen with their fierce spirit of liberty, to turn the tide. The mettle of our ancestors, and their love for liberty, was tried and proven through the centuries, and it's up to us to pick up where they left off.
If that's not diverse and inclusive enough, so be it.