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The Day the Enlightenment Went Out

In an angry editorial in today's New York Times, Garry Wills laments that perhaps the Enlightenment has died in the USA with the 2004 election, for "[c]an a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin Birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation?" It's a good question to ask. Though he seems to overlook the 49% or so of America that is still on his side.

And in a striking moment of clarity that sheds more light on the US, the international community, and the war in Iraq than anything else I've seen in the Times, or heard from the Kerry campaign, he notes:

The secular states of modern Europe do not understand the fundamentalism of the American electorate. It is not what they had experienced from this country in the past. In fact, we now resemble those nations less than we do our putative enemies.

Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists. Americans wonder that the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed.

Though I'm sure he doesn't recognize his genius, that's one of the best articulations of the need for unilateral action on the part of the US that I have seen yet. Keep it up Garry, you are starting to catch on!


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 4, 2004 11:37 AM.

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