And you will know us by the trail of our dead

23 09 2011

Posted this at TNC’s joint, worth reposting here—an excerpt from a recent New Yorker piece by Adam Gopnik:

. . . Americans are perfectly willing to sacrifice their comforts for their ideological convictions. We don’t have a better infrastructure or decent elementary education exactly because many people are willing to sacrifice faster movement between our great cities, or better informed children, in support of their belief that government should always be given as little money as possible.

The reasons for these feelings are, of course, complex, with a noble reason descending from the Revolutionary War, and its insistence on liberty at all costs, and an ignoble one descending from the Civil War and its creation of a permanent class of white men convinced that they are besieged by an underclass they regard as subsidized wards of the federal government. (Thus the curious belief that the worldwide real-estate crisis that hit the north of Spain and the east of Ireland as hard on the coast of Florida was the fault of money loaned by Washington to black people.) But the crucial point is that is the result of active choice, not passive indifference: people don’t want high-speed rail are not just indifferent to fast trains. The are offended by fast trains, as the New York Post is offended by bike lanes and open-air plazas: these things give too much pleasure to those they hate. [emph. in original]

One gent pushed back, arguing that Gopnik was holding a match to a straw man, but, y’know, I don’t think so.

This doesn’t explain everything, but it damned sure explains some things.

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3 responses

24 09 2011
25 09 2011
26 09 2011
dmf

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