One of our deepest implicit arguments is that, “liberals care about discrimination, therefore (obviously) they don’t care about America.” It’s fallacious, of course, but so what? I know their counter: “no, we care about both, we just don’t wear our patriotism on our sleeves like you.” Well, your mistake!
Our promotion of glorious American nationalism is so critical, in so many ways. It feeds our “liberals want to destroy America” talking point. It burnishes our brand of righteous positivity, in deliberate contrast to their complainey progressivism. Crucially, it also confers upon us the prerogative to publicly define what America is (e.g. a white Judeo-Christian European nation, triumphant WWII and Cold War hero, beacon of freedom, etc.)
But most importantly for us, it primes a fear that we could lose it all if our prosperity doesn’t continue. How can America make the world safe for democracy, and provide jobs at home, if the liberals hamstring our economy with big government and regulation? You get the idea.
Anyway, on to Mary Grabar’s attack on Zinn. I am glad that Dennis commissioned this topic, though I have concerns about elements of Grabar’s presentation that could invite ridicule. Now, I recognize that I am not the expert propagandist that Dennis is, and I do often overreact to the boorish language that gets inserted. I’m learning and I’m getting better. Nevertheless, I’ll just document my concerns:
- First, a little one: she awkwardly equates the “capitalist ruling class” with “Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Kennedy.” This might confuse our young audience, and as I said, would be easy to ridicule.
- The center of her presentation is spent quibbling with Zinn’s interpretation of Columbus’s diaries. If that is the best indictment of Zinn’s US history that she can provide, will anyone be persuaded?
- And that is related to my third, more general criticism of the structure. It seems a little too obvious that she is trying hard to paint Zinn as an evil monster, particularly when juxtaposed with her quibbley examples. Will audience members wonder whether she doth protest too much?
In fact, it makes me curious and interested in reading Zinn (I have not done so before), just to see what it’s actually like. What if some audience members have the same reaction as me? Worst case scenario!
(Harold Scrutape is a fictional character.)