Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Sunday, May 26th, 2013.


Belief About Belief

Obama Administration

A book excerpt called “American exceptionalism is a dangerous myth” has some really good bits in it, such as —

A clue to the collective psychology emerged in the movement’s early days, when adherents dressed in tricorn hats, knee breeches, and brass-buckled shoes. This goes to the true meaning of the movement and explains why it appeared when it did. One cannot miss, in the movement’s thinking and rhetoric, a desire for a mythical return, another “beginning again,” a ritual purification, another regeneration for humanity.

Whatever the Tea Party’s unconscious motivations and meanings—and I count these significant to an understanding of the group—we can no longer make light of its political influence; it has shifted the entire national conversation rightward—and to an extent backward, indeed. But more fundamentally than this, the movement reveals the strong grip of myth on many Americans—the grip of myth and the fear of change and history. In this, it seems to me, the Tea Party speaks for something more than itself. It is the culmination of the rise in conservatism we can easily trace to the 1980s. What of this conservatism, then? Ever since Reagan’s “Morning in America” campaign slogan in 1984 it has purported to express a new optimism about America. But in the Tea Party we discover the true topic to be the absence of optimism and the conviction that new ideas are impossible. Its object is simply to maintain a belief in belief and an optimism about optimism. These are desperate endeavors. They amount to more expressions of America’s terror in the face of history. To take our country back: Back to its mythological understanding of itself before the birth of its own history is the plainest answer of all.

Elsewhere — I’m pretty much on the same page as Kevin Drum regarding the State Department investigations of James Rosen.

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