08 May 2007

The American Dream

Queen Elizabeth II"Disagree from time to time we may; united we must always remain."

Her Majesty The Queen told President Bush at yesterday's White House banquet that, "If the Atlantic unites, not divides us, ours is a partnership always to be reckoned with in the defense of freedom and the spread of prosperity."

In a decade when the media appears to encourage anti-American sentiment here in Britain and America seems to have reversed fifty years of "support of a Europe whole and free" (at least with respect to its encouragement of Britain's closer integration with the continent), the Queen's words sound as much a warning as a celebration of our two countries' special relationship.

In his 1981 classic, American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony, Samuel Huntington examined the persistent, radical gap between the promise of American ideals—liberty, equality, and hostility to authority—and the performance of American politics. He noted that, "American political ideals and values—the core of American national identity—have been continuously and overwhelmingly liberal, individualistic, democratic. American political institutions have reflected these values but have always fallen short of realizing them in a satisfactory manner," and concluded, "Critics say America is a lie because its reality falls so far short of its ideals. They are wrong. America is not a lie; it is a disappointment only because it is also a hope."

As the Queen seems to imply, we would do well to remember that hope, rather than focus purely on the disappointments, to recall the ideals, rather than just the lies—lest we awake to discover the fundamental values of our two great nations have been crushed by pessimism and cynicism.

2 comments:

Walt said...

It depends on how you interpret the ideals. If you consider the case of our May-Day riots in Los Angeles last week, you'll see what I mean.

Where else in the world do you find tens of thousands of people who have entered the country illegally or overstayed visas in violation of the law, gather in the city center, proudly proclaiming their illegal status and demand to be allowed to stay and receive benefits and they are given city ordained permits to hold the rallies and the police are not allowed to make one arrest for illegal status. Could that happen in the UK? Could that happen in Europe, Africa, Central Asia, South America, or China?

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that it happened here? Does it mean that the Rule of Law has been lost in America or does it mean that Americans are extremely tolerant of the downtrodden poor of our 3rd world neighbor?

Now, when said group of permitted protesters who claim to be in the country illegal move outside of the permitted area and begin to threaten violence against the residents and the police call them to disperse and they do not and the police begin to use batons (aka "billy clubs") to poke, prode, and - yes - hit the unruly of the mob to get them to return to their designated area - who is at fault? In Los Angeles, California, USA - the police are at fault. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Anonymous said...

Good point Walt, telling it like it is. We are damned if we do or don't.

The Difference, the media don't 'appear' to encourage anti-Americanism. With the exception of the Times and Telegraph they promote it, big time. Your beloved Beeb for example is a disgrace. You would think you'd have enough history by now to be above it but no, too many in the UK eat it up. A remarkable phenomena to watch this side of the ocean; a people deluded and blinded by their own sordid prejudice essentially blaming it on 2 men.