Friday, February 06, 2004
Goldberg On Divisions

Jonah Goldberg has some interesting observations on what liberals are saying, and what they actually mean:

Ask yourself: 'If liberals believe that it's such a wonderful thing to live in a united nation, why aren't they more nostalgic for the 1950s or 1920s?' Well, we know the answer. If the American consensus isn't a liberal consensus, then, well, to hell with consensus. So, even today liberal and feminist historians mock and deride the 1950s as if the American soul were locked in a steamer trunk for the entire decade. And liberal politicians, like Dean, talk about the 1960s as a time of great unity, because in their book 'unity' means liberal ascendance and nothing more.
The primary issue for Goldberg is that of whether or not America is as divided as the Democratic candidates say it is. He doesn't think so:
[U]ntil you've got more than 600,000 American bodies stacked up like cordwood, spare me the "more divided than ever before" talk. We have this phrase in political discourse which is very useful. It goes like this: "...since the end of the Civil War..." You can put it at the end or the beginning of almost any sentence to indicate that you are discussing trends that began after the War Between the States concluded...We were really divided then, what with all the shooting each other and stuff. Even in places where there was no shooting, we were very divided. The New York Draft Riots, for example, featured mobs of 50,000 ticked-off New Yorkers and Irish immigrants who burned big chunks of the city over three days and hanged a lot of black people from street lights. I know the Florida recount was a big deal and all, but let's get a little perspective.
There's a lot there, and its all worth reading, but he wraps things up especially well:
[I]f you think unity is the highest political value, you need to ask yourself: Would you rather have national agreement on positions you fundamentally oppose, or would you rather have divisiveness with a chance for victory another day? If you answered honestly, stop complaining about America being divided.
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