The Games Patriots Play

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by Andy Jones

Near the start of the 1992 film Patriot Games, retired CIA agent Jack Ryan is vacationing with his family in London when he encounters members of a radical IRA splinter group attacking and attempting to kidnap members of the British royal family. An American, Ryan charges into the gunfight, tackles and disarms one of the terrorists, shoots another, and disrupts the plot before the authorities arrive to restore order. The result of this heroism? The Queen of England makes him a member of The Royal Victorian Order, which I found a strange honor for an American, and a number of armed and vengeful Irishmen seek to have a word with him back in the states. As I recently discovered, Patriot Games is available for streaming on Netflix.

Saving royals is typical for an American in Europe, the Tom Clancy film seems to tell us. This self-congratulatory idea of “American exceptionalism” comes up in high school AP American history classes, and in Republican debates. Our country was “conceived in liberty,” Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address argues, and since then (and before, as we can see in the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville), pundits have asserted that our country is like that “city upon a hill” whose light cannot be hidden.

Of course, doesn’t every country think it is special, and perhaps the most special? History has presented us with (some) haughty Parisians who scoffed at all others, (some) bellicose Germans who believed that a master race of proto-Aryans came were descended from residents of Atlantis, and (some) citizens of homogeneous Japan who believe that outsider visitors cannot act with sufficient decorum and respect. Our pop culture favorites have commented upon such nationalistic chauvinism, as well. The national anthem sung by Borat reminds us that “Kazakhstan [is the] number one exporter of potassium! Other countries have inferior potassium.” We smile as we agree with Geoff Mulgan, the Chief Executive of the (British) National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts, who once said, “All of nationalism can be understood as a kind of collective narcissism.”

That said, I found myself swelling with nationalistic pride this past weekend when reading about the young men from Sacramento who, like Jack Ryan in Patriot Games, stepped up to stop the terrorists when Europeans needed them to. As you no doubt have heard, three locals are being celebrated by the heads of the U.S. and French governments because of their quick thinking. This is how the story began in Saturday’s Sacramento Bee:

Three childhood friends from the Sacramento area were hailed as international heroes Saturday after thwarting a gunman armed with an assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. French officials said the man was planning mass murder on a high-speed train bound from Amsterdam to Paris.

Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, who had known each other since middle school, said they first heard shattering glass, then realized a man was brandishing an assault rifle in the train aisle. They jumped into action.

“My friend Alek just told Spencer, ‘Go get him,’” and “Spencer gets up in a split second and runs down the car and arrests the guy before he can shoot,” Sadler told reporters Saturday.

The three men, with help from another passenger, tackled the gunman, wrestled him to the ground, then hogtied him, saving themselves and other passengers.

As I said to my wife yesterday, it was a good thing that three Americans were nearby when a terrorist was loading his guns and looking for trouble. Peggy Noonan once wrote in The Wall Street Journal that “America is not exceptional because it has long attempted to be a force for good in the world; it attempts to be a force for good because it is exceptional.”

It’s not every day that I agree with Peggy Noonan or the Wall Street Journal, but when it comes to heroic and exceptional young men from the Central Valley of California, I find myself swelling with patriotic pride and gratitude.

The Poet Laureate of Davis, Dr. Andy Jones has taught writing at UC Davis since 1990, and has hosted “Dr. Andy’s Poetry and Technology Hour” on KDVS since 2000. He is currently writing a Guide to Davis that will focus on local art and culture.
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161 thoughts on “The Games Patriots Play”

  1. Tia Will

    Andy

    I share your celebration of the actions of these very brave young men. It is a wonder to me that when most will run in terror, there are those amongst us who will run towards the problem in order to take care of it. I am very proud of these young men.

    However, I see a problem in attributing this trait to the nationality of the men. Do we believe that three men of similar training and friendship from another country would not have acted the same ?

    I do not feel any vicarious pride in the actions of these individuals. Just as I do not feel vicarious shame when an American does an act that I feel is immoral. I do not feel that their heroic actions are a reflection on me as a person any more than I feel that the actions of American terrorists are a reflection on me as a person. I believe strongly in individual virtue and responsibility. I do not believe in national exceptionalism of any kind be it American or that of any other nation.

    1. zaqzaq

      Tia,

      When there is a story of three men from another country that do a similar act we can celebrate them.  Can you concede that they acted based on how they were raised and educated in our society?  The values that they learned growing up in an America were put into play.  Two of these young men were members of our military which trains its soldiers and airmen to take initiative to solve a proplem.  And that is what they did when they charged the armed terrorist and disarmed him.

      1. Tia Will

        zaqzaq

        When there is a story of three men from another country that do a similar act we can celebrate them.”

        This is exactly my point. Would their actions be any more or less laudable because they were from another country ?  I do believe that they acted on how they had been raised and the values they were taught. I just do not believe that these are uniquely American values, nor do I believe in collective acceptance of praise, but collective rejection of blame which is what we too often hear expressed.

        1. Miwok

          Would their actions be any more or less laudable because they were from another country ?

          You mean the Afghani soldiers training to defend their own country who shot American soldiers ? Do you mean the Iraqi soldiers who, without Americans to stand beside them, dropped their weapons and ran in the face of Daesh forces? Same weapons, same training, and our youngsters go into the fight instead of running in fear. Do you mean the people who will not come forward in Afghanistan to serve their country because they make more money growing poppies for the world?

          It might be laudable for people from another country, if it ever happens. Courage has no country, so celebrate it when you find it.

        2. Miwok

          Very nice Mr Shor, and underscores the weasels that run the Army. Ask the Native Americans about their “commitment” or respecting treaties. If they built what was promised the whole area could be transformed, instead, it seems they dump on their friends.

    2. hpierce

      Tia… you are absolutely correct to eschew the jingo-ism of ‘americanism’.

      Yet, I’m surprised that you celebrate these ‘actions’, which were violent.  I thought you eshewed violence, yet these men abused the civil liberties of a person.  The victim was assaulted by three “Christian” young men!  The victim was not given any ‘due process’ prior to being viciously assaulted, and “hog-tied”.  Where is your outrage?  Yet, you say you share in the ‘celebration’?

      Your views on this matter seem somewhat inconsistent with posts on other subjects regarding the use of violence.

      1. Tia Will

        Hpierce

        I believe that if you went back and actually looked at my posts, you will see that I have stated an exception for self defense or defense of others under immediate life threatening circumstances. I would certainly apply that to this situation.

        Miwok

        no it was not any of the groups you named that I had in mind. I was actually thinking of the Brit and the French national who also were involved, but whom our media have chosen to hardly mention.

        1. Miwok

          Tia, my point being that other countries are sometimes vilified by the youth who epitomize their real actions. I think we celebrate these Sacramento youth because we would rather not point out the Detroit and Chicago war zones.

          As far as the media in America, I eschew reading it, since a plane with hundreds of people can crash and it does not hit the news unless there are Americans on board.. AlJazeera and BBC do a better job, and AlJazeera is now an American version which censors the news for the USA audience, so they are impossible to read now. The Fourth Estate has sunk to a new low..

    3. TrueBlueDevil

      There are rumors that some Europeans ran away.

      Given statistics, if we were all the same, then the persons who stopped him should have probably been German (they love to travel), French, Canadian, or from another country. There are certain truths that aren’t even discussed. If all things were equal, 1 or 2 of the heroes should have been European women for that matter.

      I heard one man comment on the transformation of France, that they descended from the Gauls, terrific warriors, but that time, and socialist teachers feminized their culture / men.

  2. Biddlin

    How egalitarian of you. To me, patriotism is rather like family loyalty:  While both have inherent costs and dangers,  both can be the cement that holds a unit together. Thanks and congratulations to our most effective ambassadors.

    ;>)/

  3. Barack Palin

    Thanks Andy Jones, it’s nice to read something patriotic and uplifting in the Vanguard for a change.  I’m proud of these men and I’m proud they’re from America and Sacramento.  Be ready though Mr. Jones, there are those who will scoff at any mention of American patriotism.

    1. Tia Will

      BP

      there are those who will scoff at any mention of American patriotism.”

      Please let me be clear. I do not scoff at the beliefs of others with regard to patriotism. And I agree with Biddlin that patriotism can be the cement that holds a unit together. I just feel that the “units” we have chosen to define as countries are arbitrary, often defined by violent actions either in the past or present, and do more harm in the world than good. I would choose a different unit for solidarity. I would choose humanity as my unit of cohesion.  And now let’s see whose ideas are met by scoffing.

      1. hpierce

        “… often defined by violent actions either in the past or present, and do more harm in the world than good.” So the brutal actions of three rogue americans, and at least one other bystander should be excoriated, rather than celebrated.  Let’s face it… those three americans had no right to ‘arrest’, under color of authority, to do what they did.  Obviously religious zealots (all three have been described as ‘devout Christians’).

  4. Anon

    I am so proud of these three Americans, and a guy from the UK who assisted them.  I believe one of the reasons they were so effective at taking the bad guy down was two had military training.  One of those Americans who brought the bad guy down was severely injured for his trouble.  This reminds me so much of the passengers on the plane who took the shoe bomber down.  Normal every day citizens are not going to put up with evildoers harming innocents.

    Tia Will: “However, I see a problem in attributing this trait to the nationality of the men.

    I am at a complete loss as to why this comment was made.  Where in the article does it equate bravery to the nationality of the men?  The author merely expressed his national pride at the actions of his fellow countrymen.  Why shouldn’t the United States be proud that it produced such brave young men, just as Great Britain should be proud of the gentleman that assisted taking down the bad guy.  Good grief!  Since when is national pride in this context a bad thing?

    1. Frankly

      Maybe Tia would have swelled with pride if it were three Finnish women that stopped the attacker?

      Or, you know what would have really caused a celebrations… maybe a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan… three Palestinian women that stopped the attacker!

      Unfortunately it was just three of those privileged American white males.

      1. Barack Palin

        Actually Frankly, one was black.  Imagine, two white privileged men traveling with a black childhood friend and all three end up being heroes.  I guess that doesn’t play into the America is racist theme that liberals like to espouse.

        1. Davis Progressive

          you act like because some people point out specific acts where blacks are disproportionately treated that that therefore means all americans must be racist.  that’s a mighty fine strawman you’ve created.

  5. Frankly

    Wonderful read this morning.

    “America is not exceptional because it has long attempted to be a force for good in the world; it attempts to be a force for good because it is exceptional.”

    Exactly.

    But this will lay bare one profound source of division in this country.  Those Americans that for whatever reason… and I think we can probably define and count them… don’t agree.  They exist in every country and as an excitable and vocal population that serves a useful purpose to prevent the type of overheated patriotism that leads to no good.   But when they multiply beyond a vocal minority they begin to tear a country apart in a “misery loves company” tragic comedy.

    As the good communist Nikita Khrushchev said:

    “We do not have to invade the United States, we will destroy you from within.”

    We can only hope that there are enough Americans like these three young men to prevent it.

      1. Frankly

        Rather than this question, I would ask what would destroy it and then what needs to happen to prevent it from being destroyed.

        American exceptionalism began with the initial settlers… call it geographic and migratory eugenics… the filtering of the type of people that would make the journey and then establish a life in a new land significantly so open to to creative freedoms and free enterprise.  Then a revolution to protect it, and a design of a republic system of governance to ensure its longevity.  And for decades the continued flow of self-determined people immigrating here… and those that returned because they discovered that they needed more of a nanny government… that the cost of freedom was too much for them to bear.  And then this led to American values.  Many of them unique compared to other older cultures.  http://www1.cmc.edu/pages/faculty/alee/extra/American_values.html

        And we are at risk of losing American Exceptionalism because new immigrants are those aware of the new nanny state.  Some are attracted to this country for the old reasons and are quick to adopt our values, but more are attracted to being cared for and bring with them their old socialist values to partner with American liberals to destroy what is and “reform” it to what makes then feel more comfortable.  They don’t assimilate.  They don’t adopt our core values.   Yes, I know these arguments have been made before at different times.  In the 1920s there was a lot of similar complaining about Italians and Jews.  In fact, some of the concern about Italians was well founded as they pushed a Fascist political movement.  However, we were a much younger and under-developed country with land a plenty and untapped natural resources.  We could “power through” those arguments and assimilate enough people to retain our values.

        Today we have exceptional individuals… for example our military personnel and veterans.  But as a country, we are losing ground being able to claim we are exceptional.  This next election is a first step into taking steps to reverse the decline of American exceptionalism.

        1. sisterhood

          “In fact, some of the concern about Italians was well founded…”

          And much of that concern was not. My Italian in-laws, (Father, Mother, and Brother) were your kind of American, Frankly. First generation father in law had 8th grade education, still managed to scrimp, save and start his own successful business while wife worked part time as a bookkeeper and raised 3 successful children. One of whom started his own sporting goods company in a barn, turned it into a multi million dollar business, and provided hundreds of jobs. Refused to move his company overseas. Refused to sell it to anyone who would not keep all his same employees. Provided good salary & benefits to his employees, too.

           

          When I read in the other article comments about unions being made up of thugs, I can’t help but laugh because I think some folks are thinking about the old days of labor unions and some Italians who would not fit the above description. Then I think about my SEIU union, and the image of those folks being thugs, by any stretch of the imagination, just cracks me up.

          To get back on topic, I am grateful to the three young Americans and the two non-Americans for saving the day on that train.

        2. hpierce

          Wow, Frankly… Any “whites” are ‘non-native’ in this hemisphere.  The Pilgrims were as about as “socialist” as you can get.  Or have you forgotten the history?

          Assimilation?  The history of the US is not “assimilation” to who originally lived here, closer to anihilation.  We did not accept the “core values” of the indigenous people.  Your focus on “assimilation” reminds me of the Borg.  Good luck with that.

        3. TrueBlueDevil

          hpierce, I believe that any group here were non native … people having migrated here from Asia, if I recall. There is a very interesting PBS special where they trace the history of man via our DNA starting in Africa. Kennewick Man scenarios also come into play.

        4. Frankly

          Then I think about my SEIU union, and the image of those folks being thugs, by any stretch of the imagination, just cracks me up.

          “Union” is a term that reflects the organization, and not necessarily the temperament of its members.   Just as “Democrat” is the political party and the politicos in charge, and not necessarily representative of the temperament of the its members.

          Unions have a long history of thuggish behavior.  And it has generally been the union bosses and a minority of members responsible for it.

          But I consider striking as thuggish behavior in this day and age of union employees all getting significant higher compensation than they deserve when compared to the overall labor market.

        5. Frankly

          Your focus on “assimilation” reminds me of the Borg.

          Ha!  No, think of assimilation into American culture as the opposite.  Freedoms from the oppressive control of the collective and the tyrannical and corrupt government.  For example, the Obama administration and the modern Democrat Party.

          We just need to get back to more measured and practical McCarthyism to help combat this slide downward.

        6. wdf1

          Frankly:  Charles Murray, in his book, Coming Apart, argues that moral virtue (which I would partially equate with the concept of the American psyche as it relates to American exceptionalism in this discussion) was more readily taught in public schools through the early part of the 20th century.  He gives as a prime example the heavy use of the McGuffey Readers as standard textbooks of the day.  You can read electronic copies of the books at Google Books.

          In modern parlance, these were lessons in developing soft skills of good citizens.  But it’s all a leftist plot according to you.

  6. aggiepride

    The author of this article missed an opportunity to drill down to the real reason these guys are heroes.  It’s not that that they’re American, it’s that they’re from Sacramento.  Let’s always remember that we hate vast swaths of America–the parts that don’t think precisely as we do.  But these guys, they’re three of ours.  They know all the same stores, etc.

    So, especially in the greater Sacramento region–this teeming cultural mecca, this bastion of diversity, cutting-edge thinking, and innovation–we have earned the right to swell with pride when three of our own succeed in disarming a homeless man who doesn’t know how to shoot a firearm.  Indeed, one of his guns was not even loaded.

    Nothing was ginned up in this heroic narrative, at all.  So appropriate to begin this “article” with a reference to a masterpiece of avant garde cinema!  Everything is precisely as it seems!  God bless Sacramento.

    1. Barack Palin

      You’re kidding right?  Are you saying they weren’t heroic?  They charge a man with an AK47 with multiple magazines, pistol and a knife and you imply that’s not acts of heroism?  One man received multiple cuts to the point that one of his fingers was almost severed.  SMH.

      1. aggiepride

        They seem like nice enough dudes.  But even they admit that if the guy knew what he was doing, everyone on that train would be dead.  That brave candor is sort of close to heroic, given how the media is treating this–and how badly people want a “hero.”  I mean, this “article” begins by citing The Patriot Games, for Christ’s sake.  Says it all, don’t you think?

        1. Anon

          But even they admit that if the guy knew what he was doing, everyone on that train would be dead.

          Does that make them any less brave for having taken courage in their hands and subdued the bad guy?  I think not.

    2. tribeUSA

      AP–Surely there must be places sufficiently diverse enough for your standards where you could live, perform mundane acts like those of those three men on a daily basis and perform actual heroic acts well above and beyond those of those three men–you have an opportunity to lead by example!

    1. Don Shor

      Yes, apparently there were five heroes. One of them British, and this professor who other sites describe as French-American. Kind of undercuts Peggy Noonan’s theory about exceptionalism, I guess, but still a cool story.

        1. hpierce

          Don… do you not realize that public and private, the US citizens have contibuted more to international crises than the rest of the world combined? Earthquakes/Tsunamis, medical threats [Ebola, Yaws, Malaria, malnutrition, birth defects (cleft lips/palates) etc, etc, etc] . Many privately based… religious, Red Cross, Project Hope, etc.  What foreign nation has ever contibuted to mitigate our disasters?  Katrina, 911, Northridge, WW II lend/lease, etc.?

          There was a Canadian commentator, maybe  40 years ago, who eloquently pointed out the fact that Americans  look out for the world, and the world cares little for us.  Can’t find it on the  internet.  Figures.

           

           

          1. Don Shor

            do you not realize that public and private, the US citizens have contibuted more …

            Did I imply or state otherwise? That isn’t what people mean by “American exceptionalism.”

        2. Frankly

          Did I imply or state otherwise? That isn’t what people mean by “American exceptionalism.”

          Sure it is.

          And it is also evident from the marvelous machine you just typed that on.

          1. Don Shor

            No, actually Frankly, “American Exceptionalism” is well defined. You can look it up. Wikipedia is your friend on this. It also explains the more recent usage of the term, and the controversy.

        3. Frankly

          Have you ever read Tocqueville?  He pretty much summed it up… and this was a couple of centuries ago.  You seem to be doing that Don dance on a head of pin to dodge and sway from having to stand firm on the point.

          What is your point?  How do you define American exceptionalism since you seem to agree that it is factually accurate?

           

          1. Don Shor

            I have no problem with Tocqueville’s analysis and definition as a point of historical reference and agree that the background he describes affected our behavior as a young nation and well into the 20th Century.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_exceptionalism#Alexis_de_Tocqueville.2C_1831
            You know what, Frankly? I’m not “dancing on the head of a pin.” I am pointedly and specifically NOT accepting the hard-right Gingrich definition of American Exceptionalism. That seems to be the one you prefer. It’s not a phrase with a single specific meaning. I am very “firm” on this point: neo-conservatives and many Republicans have tried to co-opt the term for partisan purposes.
            Further down in the Wikipedia article we have this:

            Marilyn B. Young argues that after the end of the Cold War in 1991, neoconservative intellectuals and policymakers embraced the idea of an “American empire”, a national mission to establish freedom and democracy in other nations, particularly underdeveloped ones. She argues that after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, the George W. Bush administration reoriented foreign policy to an insistence on maintaining the supreme military and economic power of America, an attitude that harmonized with this new vision of American empire. Young says the Iraq War (2003–2011) exemplified American exceptionalism.

            No, I don’t accept that.
            Newt Gingrich wrote a whole book apparently based on this definition:

            “What makes American exceptionalism different is that we are the only people I know of in history to say power comes directly from God to each one of you. You are personally sovereign. So you’re always a citizen, never a subject,” Gingrich said at a South Carolina forum in September. That means, he added, that “no politician, no bureaucrat, no judge” can take those rights away.

            I think that is false and, in fact, a potentially harmful definition. But not untypical for Gingrich.
            As to our president, who was lambasted by conservatives on the topic in 2012, here is his definition:

            Obama gave his definition of American exceptionalism when asked at a 2009 press conference in France if he subscribed to the notion. He said yes — that America is exceptional in its unmatched military capability, the size of its economy, and “a core set of values,” including free speech and equality, that are enshrined in its Constitution, laws and democratic practices. He also said America has a “continued extraordinary role in leading the world.”

            I think most Americans could agree with that definition.
            So I’m not dodging. I’m not swaying. I’m not dancing on the head of a pin. I’m just not accepting your dichotomous and simplistic view of the term, and I’m giving you an answer that assumes you have some capacity for critical thinking.

        4. TrueBlueDevil

          hpierce, maybe we could argue that our pocket books are exceptional, too… Europe allowing us to subsidize their social programs as we are their military protector (they have much smaller military forces which are also used less frequently as they rely on us).

        5. Frankly

          not accepting your dichotomous and simplistic view of the term

          Please point to where you can back this claim?  Seems you are just making stuff up.

          My view is much more expansive than Obama’s, but includes all of what he lists.

          1. Don Shor

            1. Your agreement with Noonan’s quote: “America is not exceptional because it has long attempted to be a force for good in the world; it attempts to be a force for good because it is exceptional.” Noonan defines the term primarily through our early military achievements and our religious faith.

            2. “This next election is a first step into taking steps to reverse the decline of American exceptionalism.” In other words, you think Republicans are the ones who will restore our exceptionalism. See below.

            3. Your definition of assimilation as “Freedoms from the oppressive control of the collective and the tyrannical and corrupt government. For example, the Obama administration and the modern Democrat Party.”
            In other words, you think American exceptionalism is declining because of the current administration and Democrats.

            4. Related: your calling for “measured and practical McCarthyism.” Since this is at least the fourth or fifth time you’ve advocated this, it’s worth exploring exactly which groups of Americans you want to blacklist and purge from their jobs, which groups you want to vilify in public, which groups of your fellow citizens you wish to subject to McCarthyism. How this exactly ties in to this topic, I’m not sure, but you seem to be advocating using the levers of government to remove rights from some of your fellow citizens. That’s more than a little jarring.

            Your definition of American exceptionalism seems to be a sort of morphing of manifest destiny with that strange list of American “values” that you like to post, and you seem to think that “others” are a threat to all of that. You use it as a partisan term, embodied by Republicans and diminished by Democrats. That is actually a perversion of the term.

            If you search around, you can find the actual context of Peggy Noonan’s quote:
            “… it is exceptional. It is a nation formed not by brute, grunting tribes come together over the fire to consolidate their power and expand their land base, but by people who came from many places. They coalesced around not blood lines but ideals, and they defined, delineated and won their political rights in accordance with ground-breaking Western and Enlightenment thought. That was something new in history, and quite exceptional. We fought a war to win our freedom, won it against the early odds, understood we owed much to God, and moved forward as a people attempting to be worthy of what he’d given us.”
            So she is acknowledging the origins of our values in French revolutionary ideals and Western enlightenment — not exactly religious principles – and how they were adapted into our unique experience of revolution and expansionism.
            When you ask someone if they ‘believe in’ American exceptionalism, you are asking a pretty loaded question.

        6. TrueBlueDevil

          Don, I will reply to 2 items which you addressed to Frankly.

          You wrote: 2. “ ‘This next election is a first step into taking steps to reverse the decline of American exceptionalism.’ In other words, you think Republicans are the ones who will restore our exceptionalism. See below.”

          I’d see it more as the individual who would return us to our exceptionalism. And the individual thrives when government is smaller, not larger. The larger government, the more regulation,s the more technocrats, the individual, innovation, risk taking, entrepreneurship, etc. and curtailed. Traditionally these values more align with the right side of the aisle.

          You wrote: 3. “Your definition of assimilation as ‘Freedoms from the oppressive control of the collective and the tyrannical and corrupt government. For example, the Obama administration and the modern Democrat Party.’ In other words, you think American exceptionalism is declining because of the current administration and Democrats.”

          Yes. It is constrained and hamstrung in numerous ways. We have record social spending, and incentives to not work, to rely on government. Also, with unchecked illegal immigration from Central and South America, and huge numbers of refugees from countries that don’t share common values with us, we are bringing in tens of millions of people that don’t share traditional American values. They are attracted to our American success, but they have a hand out for money and social programs, programs which didn’t exist for the Irish, Jews, Chinese, Africans and others. Too many people all at once who can’t assimilate to our values and culture.
          I don’t think Obama believes in it anyway. He spent his first two years in office flying around the world in his Apology Tour, bowing to foreign leaders.

        7. Frankly

          Noonan defines the term primarily through our early military achievements and our religious faith

          So she is acknowledging the origins of our values in French revolutionary ideals and Western enlightenment — not exactly religious principles – and how they were adapted into our unique experience of revolution and expansionism.

          You do realize that you directly contradicted yourself in a single post.

          The only newspapers I read every day are the WSJ and the Davis Enterprise.   I read all of Noonan’s stuff and mostly agree with it.

          Mine and Noonan’s assessment of American Exceptionalism is based on a wide and deep set of criteria.   And some, but not all, of those criteria are in direct conflict with the direction of this country from before Obama took over, but that have been put on hyperdrive since he took over.

          that strange list of American “values” that you like to post

          That list of values is “strange” to you?  I find THAT strange.

          1. Don Shor

            That list of values is “strange” to you? I find THAT strange.

            I’ve replied to that one many times before. It’s a lot of generalizations about Americans, some right, some wrong, and was intended as a description of what Americans are like for foreign visitors to this country.

            You do realize that you directly contradicted yourself in a single post.

            No, she does.

  7. Skip Harrison

    It’s my own fault.  I read the feel good innocuous story by Dr. Jones and I should have signed off then.  But, no, I had to start reading the comments.  The usual top ten commenters took the story and parsed it three ways to Sunday bringing up the same tired drivel that has become all too common on The Vanguard.

    A president/ex-governor and a progressive from Davis even got into a battle of words about racism (The Vanguards favorite topic).  Is that relevant to this story?

    As I have stated before, I find The Vanguard a valuable tool for exposing local issues.  So many things that slipped under my radar I’ve caught wind of on this blog and I appreciate that.  Stories like these also interest me, but it seems things are easily high jacked by the loud talkers.

     

  8. aggiepride

    It’s the commenters who are the real heroes, here.  They had no idea, when they began commenting, how terribly boring and irrelevant–dangerously so–this discussion would be.

  9. hpierce

    You wanna’ talk heroism?  Do you recall flight 93?  Those were true heroes.  Knowing they would die anyway, they stopped a plane from flying into the Pentagon.  Need to visit the site at Shanksville, PA to pay my respects.  They were not content to be victims… they acted to make sure there were no other victims.

    It is written “no greater love than this… to give (or be prepared to) one’s life for a brother (stranger)”.  Yet most seem to ignore the moral impetus to the actions of those who stopped a madman.

      1. hpierce

        Point taken on my part.  Point missed on your side. They did not know.  But, they had to assume.  Think.  I don’t think you ever had to make the choice. I have.  Grow up, get a clue.

          1. Don Shor

            And now I see by an updated news story that one of the Frenchmen is actually American. The reporting on this whole thing has been confused.

        1. Frankly

          I agree.  I have been a bit uncomfortable with all the attention on the Americans.   And it is not just the US media, it is the foreign press too.

          The Frenchman is Franco-American.

          To their credit though, they are the ones actually successful at putting this terrorist down.  Maybe this is why they are getting more attention.

          However, I think we are missing an opportunity to do what you just did and reflect on the international flavor of “team” that worked together to prevent a much larger terrorist tragedy.  It is notable who was on the team, just as it was notable who was on the other team, and who else failed to jump up and help put him down.

        2. Frankly

          What did one of the Frenchmen do, make a phone call?

          I read that he ran toward the scuffle to help and was shot by the terrorist as he was being taken down by the Americans.  And that one of the Americans held a finger on his neck wound to prevent too much blood loss until they reached a station where he could get medical attention.

  10. Biddlin

    Seriously, George M. Cohan would have bombed in your berg. Three local guys are international heroes and some of you can’t even wave a tiny flag? What do you do during the Olympic Games, when the USA wins a medal, say a prayer for forgiveness?

    ;>)/

     

    1. Barack Palin

      I’m with you on this Biddlin.  I was surprised that everyone wasn’t on the same page showing some patriotic pride in honoring some local heroes.

  11. Tia Will

    Three local guys are international heroes and some of you can’t even wave a tiny flag? What do you do during the Olympic Games, when the USA wins a medal, say a prayer for forgiveness?”

    I find it interesting that you mention the Olympic Games. When the US wins a medal, I celebrate their excellence in their chosen area. When the Canadians, or the Russians or the Chinese or the Mexicans win a medal, I celebrate their excellence. What I do not do is swell with nationalistic pride. I celebrate excellence where ever it is found.

    1. Biddlin

      [moderator] edited. Please avoid personal comments
      It seems sad and unnatural that one should feel so disconnected from their culture and its virtues, while so readily recognising its faults. I’m working with some of the most laid back Universalist cats on the planet, but the Brits and the French and the Yanks all kid each other over their national  stereotypes and root for the home team when we compete against each other.  Yesterday, the genuine admiration and affection expressed for these young people and our country by our European cousins made me feel very proud, a feeling I wish you could share.

      ;>)/

    2. Frankly

      This is a very interesting post by Tia.

      Seems to me that she has a broken tribal mechanism.  Or it is not so much broken but actively fought against for some reason.

      Is it possible the reason is egalitarianism so strong that she doesn’t feel the same joy for her tribe winning at competition; and instead seeks a position where she can feel that everyone wins something?   (note this is posed as a question, not an accusation).

      I once had a boss wired like this.  The industry had territory defined by the government, and then the government allowed state-wide competition.  She would not compete with her peers for fear of upsetting them while they immediately dived into her previous protected territory.

      The Olympics are really a good topic for analyzing American exceptionalism.  With 312 million people and most of our athletics funded by private industry and private donations, we tend to kick the ass of all other nations… even those with greater populations and full state-funded athletics.   Why is that?

      1. Barack Palin

        With 312 million people and most of our athletics funded by private industry and private donations, we tend to kick the ass of all other nations… even those with greater populations and full state-funded athletics.   Why is that?

        Add to that many of the great athletes that compete for other nations were trained in the U.S. while attending our colleges.

      2. Tia Will

        Frankly

        Seems to me that she has a broken tribal mechanism.”

        I don’t see it as “broken” to count humanity as my tribe. While I was on the reservation as a general medical officer I had a very remarkable experience. There were a number of members of the tribe who were very resentful of the “whites” whether we were doctors, nurses, pharmacists or other non tribe members. One woman in particular saw me differently from some of the most tribally exclusive. She was a medicine woman, and paid me the supreme compliment of also being a “medicine woman” albeit of different training and perspective.

        She saw past tribe and race and age ( she was many years my senior) to our core values of helping where we could, and doing no harm when we could not. She saw that my human heart was in alignment with hers.

        Is it possible the reason is egalitarianism so strong that she doesn’t feel the same joy for her tribe winning at competition; and instead seeks a position where she can feel that everyone wins something?”

        This you have almost right. I feel the same joy when I see excellence regardless of the nationality of the winner. I feel the same disappointment when demonstrated on the faces of those who have not won. While I do not consider myself a Christian in the way that most of you would likely define that term, I truly believe in the principle of loving one’s neighbor or even one’s enemy  as one’s self. This does not mean that you must love their actions, but we are clearly better people when we can see the humanity in all.

  12. Tia Will

    Anon

    I have absolute faith in this country and its people.  We are strong, and when attacked, stand together, no matter race, religion, sex, etc.”

    I think that this is a beautiful sentiment. And I believe in it completely as an aspirational concept for our nation. However, I do not share your belief that this is what actually happens. What I believe is more accurate is that when attacked, we stand together when there is no easily targeted internal group to fear.

    We most certainly did not all stand together, no matter race, religion, sex, etc. when we interned the Japanese not based on their political allegiance but on their race. We forced into camps even the families of those who were fighting for us in WWII.

    We did not stand together as Americans when Senator McCarthy was ruining people’s lives and careers with his communist witch hunts.

    We are not standing together when those of us who do not blindly accept the term American exceptionalism to mean that America is superior to all other countries when in reality we are exceptional in some areas, and far from exceptional in others, are attacked as unpatriotic.

    We are not standing together when we do not provide adequate care, housing, employment for even those who have served in our military. And why should we only “stand together” in the face of outside attack ?  Why should we not stand together at all times, regardless of why a need has arisen. Why would we rather argue about exceptionalism and “nanny state” than actually take care of those in need ?

    So, aspiration, yes. Reality ?  We have a long, long way to go !

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      And that was Democratic President FDR who interned them.

      I agree with your assessment of the VA (i.e., Veterans care), another reason to be against national health care. Why have the Dems not fixed this, they’ve had 6 years?

  13. Tia Will

    hpierce

    Being able to state positives does not negate that negatives that exist as well. Being able to see both without denying that the other exists is an acceptance of reality. Loving one’s country does not mean that one accepts all its attributes uncritically. Nor does it confuse individual actions with the actions of other members members of the same group. I am not a better American because of the actions of these men, just as I was not a lesser American because of the actions of the Boston Marathon bombers who were also raised in this country or Timothy McVeigh before them.

    Yes, Americans demonstrate incredible generosity. And we demonstrate incredible cruelty. As individuals and as a country, I believe that we need to focus on moving the needle always towards the former from the latter. And that will only occur in my opinion when we are willing to accept that both ends of the spectrum of human behavior exist for us, just as they do for others.

    1. hpierce

      Wow… I think you confuse me with the “America right or wrong” nuts… I know the WHOLE quote… do you?  I believe in the whole quote.

      “I believe that we need to focus on moving the needle always towards the former from the latter.”  To move the needle, one can “push” (focussing on the faults and avoidance/dangers/magnitude of the ‘incredible cruelty’) or one can “pull” (acknowledge the incredible good, and urge towards ‘perfection’).  I am (or try to be) a “puller”.  Reflect on the preponderance of your posts.  Are you a ‘pusher’ or a ‘puller’?  Your answer to that reflection is not important to me.  I believe it (your answer to the reflection) is, or should be, of critical importance to you. At the end of the day, you need to answer to you.  I might need to answer to ‘another’ as well, but I feel that if I can ‘live in my own skin’, I will pass any judgement I care about.

       

      1. Tia Will

        hpierce

        To move the needle, one can “push” (focussing on the faults and avoidance/dangers/magnitude of the ‘incredible cruelty’) or one can “pull” (acknowledge the incredible good, and urge towards ‘perfection’)”

        I do not see this as a dichotomy the way you do. There are times when your “push” is probably the most appropriate option and times when “pull” will be more successful. The majority of the time I think that both probably come into play.

        1. Frankly

          If you are going to be objective here, the term “exceptional” does not mean “perfect”… it is a relative measure.   We are exceptional compared to other nations… all of which had extermination, slavery and internment in their past practices.

          And again, why this constant look backwards in history to make your case that the US is a cruel country?  What is your statute of limitations for pulling so much crap from history to make your case?

          I ask this question all the time of my liberal friends that are fixated with the need for reform… if we are so broken, then please point me to the model we should adopt.

        2. wdf1

          Frankly:  I ask this question all the time of my liberal friends that are fixated with the need for reform… if we are so broken, then please point me to the model we should adopt.

          …which is the question I ask of you when you are fixated with the need for education reform… “if we are so broken, then please point me to the model we should adopt.”

        3. Davis Progressive

          on the other hand, why limit yourself to adopting an existing model.  why can we take the great things about america and build on them by trying to fix the things that are not great?

        4. Frankly

          In terms of education models, they are all over the place.  There are many of them, and they have been pointed out over and over.

          In terms of a national system, the US system is imperfect, it is just the best ever.  And nobody on the left ever points to anything other than Finland that is 80% culturally homogeneous, has a population about the size of Vermont, and gets all its military protection from the US.

          But let’s be honest here.  The left does not ever dwell on the “best” part.  In fact they argue directly against it.   So your argument does not stand up here to scrutiny.  If the point is that the US is great but let’s work together to make it better, then the messaging and dialog would be completely different that what we hear and read.

          The platform of the left is that the US is largely an unfair and broken system that is destroying the planet and needs to be completely reformed.  Glass empty, glass empty, class empty.

          That is actually not the case for the country.  However, it is the case for our public school system.

          The US as a nation is the best… not perfect… but the best.

          The US education system is one of the worst… not the worst… but one of the worst.

          So, best country with one of the worst education systems.

          And liberals defend the education system and try to tear down the country.

        5. wdf1

          Frankly:  In terms of education models, they are all over the place.  There are many of them, and they have been pointed out over and over.

          You have only pointed out a mere handful, and their weaknesses consistently are that they don’t reliably help those in most need of help — those who come from lower income families, who may have special ed needs, who need ELL services.

          Frankly, from a couple of weeks ago:  Is there a new model I can point to so you can try to pick it a part?  There are lots of new models and many of them show promise. source

          I’m still waiting…

          Frankly:  And liberals defend the education system and try to tear down the country.

          You’re all about clear-cut, dichotomies.  The world doesn’t work that way.  Politicians that you would classically define as liberal — examples, Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Adrian Fenty, and perhaps Kevin Johnson — are the ones raising the most questionable education reform policies of all.

          Perhaps the worst mistake in these efforts is not asking professional educators for input.  You wouldn’t trust teachers to tell you how to do your job.  Teachers wouldn’t trust you to tell them how to go about doing their job.

          People go into teaching because they seek to make a difference and support the country and the community.  They’re not in it for the money.  If they were, they’d probably follow other work.  Folks like yourself really can’t see the good in those efforts, in a similar matter that you criticize those who don’t subscribe to your brand of American exceptionalism.  With you, public education is all about “glass empty, glass empty, glass empty.”

        6. Miwok

          Slavery – What I may have learned as a child as
          “Indentured Servitude” now “Human Trafficking”. Will you speak, David, to the Slavery of Everyone, or just Blacks?

          Please consider rephrasing.

        7. TrueBlueDevil

          I would think the logical, business-like approach would be to test 2, 3, or 4 new educational models, quantify the results, perfect the approach, and then enact improvements. It’s called a pilot. We don’t do that, do we?

          I’ve been told a basic improvement would be lengthening the class day, and the school year, which unions and some parents fight. I also don’t see how schools can be solve the problems for some districts which look like bedlam. They are teachers, not full-time heavy-duty social workers, psychologists, and prison guards.

          No, we put together a half-baked plan out like Common Core, never pilot it, and then try to apply it to 50 states. Did we ever even take into account the successes of NCLB, which included some huge gains for black children in inner cities?

          I understand that “professional educators” (i.e., teachers) want input, but after the input and pilots are run, best practices would be implemented, not endless discussions. We’ve had input for decades and now California is number 48 or 49 in education (an open border doesn’t help much). And frankly, I’ve read that the graduate scores for grad school for teaching have lower scores than most others (i.e., engineering, etc.).

          wdf wrote: “People go into teaching because they seek to make a difference and support the country and the community.  They’re not in it for the money.”
          Teaching pays pretty well now if you put in the years, and not many jobs offer lifetime tenure when you’re 25 with little chance of ever getting fired. Plus summers off  and finite hours for many, and sweet bennies. I have a friend who went from the business world into teaching, and he says it is a cake walk in comparison. He actually picked up a second job, and volunteers heavy hours. Another friend’s wife teachers 1st grade: she works hard when she is at work, but she gets home early every day (3:30), and has little to no homework to grade, and countless paid holidays. $70k a year for 9 months is pushing 100k for a full 12-month commitment, not peanuts.

        8. wdf1

          TBD: I would think the logical, business-like approach would be to test 2, 3, or 4 new educational models, quantify the results, perfect the approach, and then enact improvements. It’s called a pilot. We don’t do that, do we?

          There are ~1000 school districts in California, obviously plenty more nationwide. And orders of magnitude more schools. With all the conventional reform efforts going on there should already be plenty of examples to examine.

          TBD:   I have a friend who went from the business world into teaching, and he says it is a cake walk in comparison. He actually picked up a second job, and volunteers heavy hours. Another friend’s wife teachers 1st grade

          Which school(s), school district(s)?  How easy one’s job is in teaching depends a lot on what population of students is being served.

        9. wdf1

          TBD:   And frankly, I’ve read that the graduate scores for grad school for teaching have lower scores than most others (i.e., engineering, etc.).

          Maybe raise the pay of teachers commensurate to that of engineering, medical doctors, and attorneys, and you will get, on average, a better quality of student.

          TBD:  Did we ever even take into account the successes of NCLB, which included some huge gains for black children in inner cities?

          source?

        10. wdf1

          TBD:  $70k a year for 9 months is pushing 100k for a full 12-month commitment, not peanuts.

          It’s not bringing in enough teachers to fill available jobs.  There are scads of articles around noting teacher shortages in several states.  Here’s one from the Sac Bee:

          A teacher pipeline in need of repair

          A lot of info, but ends with this quote:  “Finally, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to dial down on the teacher bashing.”

        11. Tia Will

          TBD

          I agree with the examples that David posted, but I don’t think that we have to go back that far.

          Timothy McVeigh – deliberately targeted the portion of the federal office building containing the nursery.

          Torture in the form of water boarding and Abu Ghraib

          Napalming villages in Viet Nam

          The Boston Marathon Bombing ( done by American citizens)

          The beating to death of Matthew Sheppard for the crime of being gay.

          The black on black violence that some of you site.

          All of these are acts of Americans. And yet, I don’t see anyone accepting collective responsibility for these actions although you are willing to bask in the attention and heroism of these young men simply because they are American. I am as proud of these young men and and those of other countries who were also involved. I am proud of them for their individual actions regardless of nationality.

        12. TrueBlueDevil

          wdf1: The student population my teacher friend serves is a largely minority semi-inner city environment, large school district, high school.

          Google will get you the NCLB stats.

        13. Frankly

          Ok Tia, I think you are scraping the bottom of the barrel to keep from spilling the beans of your irrational fatilist view of the country you live in, but let’s play this game that you are playing to talk about the “incredible” cruelty of Americans.

          Timothy McVay – Agree  And then there is Anders Behring in one of your liberal utopian places… Norway.  American exceptionalism means we have freedoms that result in some risks from wack jobs.  Same with Norway.  Does that make them both cruel?

          Waterboarding – Agree.  But then those liberal utopian places didn’t have 9-11 and are not responsible for keeping the rest of the world safe from Islamic fanatic terrorists.  American exceptionalism gives us greater responsibility.

          Vietnam napalm – Fail.  War time and way past the statute of limitations.  Why not go back to WWII also?  Or even before that?

          Boston Marathon – Double fail.  Anchor baby Islamic terrorists don’t count toward any example of American cruelty.  It is Islamic cruelty and a product of too lax immigration that liberals demand.  It is a cost of freedom.

          Mathew Shepard beating to death – Agree.  But in a country of 312 million with thousands of murders, your selection of this single one does not rise to the level of proving American cruelty. And again, you are focused in the past.  Why do you do that and not admit that gay rights have progresses very far in this country as proof of American exceptionaism?  Glass half empty.

          Black on black violence – Completely agree.  Now there is a glass half empty worth discussing.  Too bad liberals would rather talk about those few cop shootings of blacks. But I fail to see how this equates to America is cruel since blacks have the freedom to kill each other.  They are being cruel to each other.  Another cost of freedom.

          The bottom line here is that you have failed to make your case.  I think you stepped in it and are digging hard to prevent yourself from having to admit it… to admit something irrational that causes you to fixate on the negatives of a few mainly historical things while ignoring the copious current eveidence of American exceptionalism all around you.  Are you personally mad at American for some reason?

          1. Don Shor

            didn’t have 9-11 and are not responsible for keeping the rest of the world safe from Islamic fanatic terrorists. American exceptionalism gives us greater responsibility.

            So now you stretch your definition of American exceptionalism on behalf of torture. And you call it “greater responsibility.” George Orwell would be proud of you.

          2. Don Shor

            Anchor baby Islamic terrorists

            Anchor baby? Are you and other conservatives going to start strewing this term about regarding any naturalized citizens? Neither was born here. They immigrated here.

        14. wdf1

          TBD:   Google will get you the NCLB stats.

          My references don’t show, “huge gains for black children in inner cities.”  That’s why I asked you originally.  This is what I see:

          For example:  ‘No Child’ Law Is Not Closing a Racial Gap

          Wikipedia:  Achievement gap, has NAEP data through 2004

          NAEP 2012, Trends in Academic Progress, has NAEP data through 2012.  Note charts on p. 17 & 18, and on p. 39 & 40.  Data looks a slightly better for 9-year olds.  Report headlines tout a closing of the achievement gap since 1971, but when you look at the charts, most of narrowing took place up until 1988-1990 (well before NCLB), and after that, relatively stagnant.

          TBD:  The student population my teacher friend serves is a largely minority semi-inner city environment, large school district, high school.

          Which school?

        15. wdf1

          Frankly:  Anchor baby Islamic terrorists…

          Please explain how the concept of “anchor baby” works for you.

          Because this is what I see in wikipedia:

          There is a popular misconception that the child’s U.S. citizenship status (acquired by jus soli) legally helps the child’s parents and siblings to quickly reclassify their visa status (or lack thereof) and to place them on a fast pathway to acquire lawful permanent residence and eventually United States citizenship.[4][5] Current U.S. federal law prevents anyone under the age of 21 from being able to petition for their non-citizen parent to be lawfully admitted into the United States for permanent residence. At best, the child’s family would need to wait for 21 years before being able to use their child’s US citizenship to modify their immigration status.[6]

          Does someone like you subscribe to the notion that these immigrants are having babies in the U.S. so that 21 years later they might be sponsored and gain legal residency/citizenship?

          Just wondering.

           

        16. TrueBlueDevil

          Frankly, somehow I think this woman with rightful anger won’t be a favorite of Tia’s or Davis Progressive.

          She reponds to #BlackLivesMatter, police protests, riots, Ferguson, blck-on-black murder, etc.

          **Graphic language**

          Peggy Hubbard talks about Ferguson and Protests

          Strong black woman who didn’t bail her son out of jail early, from the “Madia” (sp?) school.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG7mZQvaQDk

           

        17. TrueBlueDevil

          Tia, can you please tell us what major multi-ethnic country – not Finland or Malta – has more opportunity, openness, and acceptance than America? Thanks.

        18. TrueBlueDevil

          wdf1 – from the US Department of Education, here are some highlights.
          NCLB OVERVIEW
          No Child Left Behind Act Is WorkingDecember 2006

          Multiple studies and reports show that student achievement is rising across America:

          The long-term Nation’s Report Card (NAEP) results, released in July 2005, showed elementary school student achievement in reading and math at all-time highs and the achievement gap closing.

          For America’s nine-year-olds in reading, more progress was made in five years than in the previous 28 combined.
          America’s nine-year-olds posted the best scores in reading (since 1971) and math (since 1973) in the history of the report. America’s 13-year-olds earned the highest math scores the test ever recorded.
          Reading and math scores for African American and Hispanic nine-year-olds reached an all-time high.
          Math scores for African American and Hispanic 13-year-olds reached an all-time high.
          Achievement gaps in reading and math between white and African American nine-year-olds and between white and Hispanic nine-year-olds are at an all-time low.
          African American and Hispanic students posted all-time highs in a number of categories.
          http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/overview/importance/nclbworking.html

        19. wdf1

          TBD:  You really didn’t read my links.  And you didn’t evaluate and compare your source to mine.  Figures.

          The full title of NCLB is “An act to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind.” (source)  The objective on hand is to close the achievement gap.

          Your reference is from 2006 and is a report by the Bush era Dept. of Education citing NAEP test data (also referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card”).  Naturally that report presents a narrative of hopeful progress.

          My citation is the NAEP report from 2012, 6 additional years of NAEP test data than your linked report.  You site the narrowing of the achievement gap for 9-year olds.  My link is a little more positive for your case, but the bigger picture is disappointing.  For math the achievement gap narrowed by 6 points from 1988 to 2012 (29 to 23, see pg. 16 of my link); the gap is still well-defined at 23 points.  For the same group, the gap narrowed from 44 to 29 from 1971 to 1988.

          The narrowing of the achievement gap from 1971 to 1988 was even more impressive for 13 and 17 year-olds.  After 1988, not so much. Why is the year 1988 important?  Because that was the peak of school desegregation (link).  After 1988 schools became more segregated.

          If you track NAEP test data from 1971 to 2012, it indicates that school desegregation strategies were far more effective than NCLB at narrowing the achievement gap for African-Americans.  Remember that the promise of NCLB was to eliminate the achievement gap by 2014 (“No Child Left Behind”).  We are far from it.  NCLB was a failure in its objective, and the strategy of Common Core is doing nothing notably different in attempting to close the achievement gap.

          If you are interested in this issue, this recent article is about a somewhat accidental desegregation effort that occurred in the Ferguson area of Missouri in the past few years.  It brought about more significant improvement in African-American test scores within a 1-2 year period than anything else around.

        20. TrueBlueDevil

          This is a complex topic, and I don’t believe there is one defining issue for the large  achievement gap. You seem to have concluded desegregation is the be all end all, but what about sky-high truancy, dramatically less time studying at home, and single-parent families (which means lower economic resources).

          California either just started to track truancy by race, or just published the results. On top of this, California had an incomplete or non-functional system for tracking students from the start of schooling through graduation, so we couldn’t even accurately track our successes (or failures). Incompetence, or unions?

          An interesting control group would be to see if there is an ‘achievement gap’ in Catholic schools, which often have good success with students of all backgrounds.

        21. wdf1

          TBD:  You seem to have concluded desegregation is the be all end all, but what about sky-high truancy, dramatically less time studying at home, and single-parent families (which means lower economic resources).

          Did you read through the achievement gap tables in the 2012 report?

          Consistently achievement gaps narrowed more from 1971 and 1988, and not so much or not at all afterward.  Why is that?  Desegregation (including busing) was a regular policy through that time.  It reached its height in implementation in 1988 (I gave  a citation for that, above), and then was relaxed or abandoned after that.  In many cases, achievement gaps increased after that year.

          “be all and end all”?

          I place my bet that desegregation is a likelier factor than the alternatives you mention.  You mention truancy, less study time at home, and single-parent families.  Can those factors account for more dramatic narrowing of the achievement gap through 1988, and not so much after?

          Was truancy worse in 1971 and improved through to 1988 and then just stagnated?

          Did study time at home increase from 1971 to 1988 and then sort of stagnated?

          Did the number of single parent families decline from 1971 to 1988 and then stagnated?

          If you’re convinced it’s something else, then the onus is on you to make the case.  You haven’t so far.  Whatever was going on from 1971 to 1988 was working more effectively than NCLB.

          TBD:  An interesting control group would be to see if there is an ‘achievement gap’ in Catholic schools, which often have good success with students of all backgrounds.

          Did you note that there was data on Catholic schools in my link to the 2012 report?

        22. wdf1

          TBD:  …study shows that African American students can lower the achievement gap by 50% if they have a personal religious commitment, and 25% if they attend a religious school. 

          This isn’t inconsistent with what I have observed and reported.  It shows that education is more than just boning up on math and reading to score higher on standardized tests.

          The conclusion that you present is accounted for in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Belonging to a church or religious community brings a sense of belonging to a supportive community.  It also can instill a sense of purpose in one’s life, increasing one’s motivation to value education.

          Public schools as an institution cannot specifically embrace religion, but they can offer students opportunities to belong to and develop supportive communities through activities like athletics, band, drama, student government, ROTC, Junior Achievement, service clubs.  By offering a wider array of activities and experiences, a student is likelier to develop a sense of purpose in life.

          Where you find failing schools, you are likelier to see failing communities behind it — less supportive community infrastructure and community know-how to build supportive community structures.

          Desegregation was about grafting a successful community to a struggling community in order to help the struggling community to develop healthier community structures and outcomes.  By most accounts that I find, desegregation made great improvements for African-Americans.

          The reason that NCLB was a failure is that it did not acknowledge the community context of schools.  It just said, get those test scores up in math and reading.

          Again, I think you would find it instructive to read Charles Murray’s Coming Apart.  I recommend it to you and Frankly in particular because it has a narrative that’s more palatable to conservative sensibilities.

  14. Anon

    To Tia Will: Rather than address each one of your specific statements, let me just make an observation.  There are those who tend to look at the glass half empty, will always find something wrong with everything in life, which seems to far outweigh any of life’s little joys.  They also constantly seek perfection, and when that doesn’t happen, they always seem dissatisfied and hypercritical.  Those of us who view the glass as half full will always celebrate the good things that happen in life, which seem to far outweigh any of life’s problems, which we don’t see as insurmountable.  We constantly accept that life is less than perfect, and when it isn’t, we are not necessarily dissatisfied, but perhaps try and make our little part of the world a better place by sewing seeds of optimism and hope.

    I am proud of my country, warts and all.  Are we perfect as a nation? No.  Have we made mistakes?  Mistakes are part of being human.  The hope is that we learn from our mistakes.  Five men did a brave thing, they subdued a gunman from killing people.  Three were Americans from Sacramento – and I am proud that America produced such fine young men.  I am also proud of Great Britain and France for respectively producing two other fine men.  I don’t consider patriotism a dirty word.  It is no different than being proud of your children, despite all the mistakes that they have made, but still reveling in their accomplishments. Are my children perfect? No, but then I don’t expect them to be perfect – because to seek perfection is to doom yourself to failure every time.  Nothing is perfect.

    To Don Shor: I think the United States is an exceptional nation, and I don’t use that as a political term of someone else’s making.  The outpouring of assistance that occurred after 9/11 epitomized just how exceptional we are as a country, with firefighters and police officers rescuing people from two doomed buildings at the risk of their own lives, with restaurants donating food to the selfless workers combing through the wreckage looking for survivors, the selfless citizens on flight 93, etc.  hpierce gave some other excellent examples.

    I am really surprised that such a wonderful article, about some really outstanding young men would evoke such negative observations from some commenters.  It must be awful to live inside a head filled with such dark thinking.

    1. Barack Palin

      I am really surprised that such a wonderful article, about some really outstanding young men would evoke such negative observations from some commenters.  It must be awful to live inside a head filled with such dark thinking.

      I agree with your entire comment, especially this sentence.  I would’ve thought this was something we could all come together on but unfortunately a few commenters took it in another direction.

        1. Biddlin

          But that isn’t the story the guest author is telling, is it?

          I see nowhere in it that remotely invites the negativity of some un-edited and remaining posts and no usual admonition to those who wish to dampen the celebratory spirit of the rest of us.

          :>)/

        2. Tia Will

          Anon “Five men did a brave thing, they subdued a gunman from killing people.  Three were Americans from Sacramento “ Now this is a fair and balanced statement with which I agree. The rest, not so much so. It may be my training, but I do not share your vision as people seeing the glass as half full or half empty. I see it ias desirable to be able to see the pros and cons that exist for every situation. Perhaps because I am a doctor, I do not share the opinion that Frankly recently expressed on another thread that there is one best solution for every situation and everyone just needs to get on board. I see there as being a number of different potential possibilities, some which will be better for one individual or group while another solution may be optimal for others. As for your analogy to your family, I see a major weakness. Yes, I love my children regardless of their flaws just as you say. I also love my country. But I am not going to pretend that because we hold an ideal that our actions support that ideal. There is also another glaring difference between family and country. I do not know anyone who would make a “pre-emptive strike” leading to deaths of members of another family or city. And yet we have multiple instances in my lifetime in which America has attacked other countries on the presumption that we are “defending ourselves or our interests” when in fact there is no major threat to us.

        3. TrueBlueDevil

          Tia, do you put Iran in that group of who we should act with passivity?

          They have broken every agreement, they sponsor proxy armies, they sponsor terrorist groups which attack us (Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.), they acquire nuclear technology with a goal for nuclear weapons, they are acquiring long range delivery capabilities (i.e., missiles), they have destabilized the region, they chant ‘death to America’, and they are on the record of wanting to ‘wipe Israel off the map’. The ink on the recent disastrous deal by our President isn’t even dry, and they’ve already broken the deal. They clearly cannot be trusted.

        4. TrueBlueDevil

          Always a reason to bash America. Can’t even enjoy some good karma for one day, just like our President who comes to the aid of any criminal of the day, yet I’ve seen very little from him regarding these heroes.

    2. Biddlin

      “I am really surprised that such a wonderful article, about some really outstanding young men would evoke such negative observations from some commenters.  It must be awful to live inside a head filled with such dark thinking.”

      It strikes me as a stinginess of spirit.

      ;>)/

  15. Frankly

    American soldier exceptionalism as noted from this French soldier:

    http://www.scout.com/military/warrior-lodge/story/1557834-a-french-soldier-s-view-of-us-soldiers

    “A NOS FRERES D’ARMES AMERICAINS

    “We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while – they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army – one that the movies brought to the public as series showing “ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events”.

    Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine- they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them – we are wimps, even the strongest of us – and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.

    And they are impressive warriors! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark – only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered – everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.Here we discover America as it is often depicted: their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley.

    And combat? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all – always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks: they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting: they just charge! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later – which cuts any pussyfooting short.Honor, motherland – everything here reminds of that: the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location: books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions: the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.

     (This is the main area where I’d like to comment. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Kipling knows the lines from Chant Pagan: ‘If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white/remember it’s ruin to run from a fight./ So take open order, lie down, sit tight/ And wait for supports like a soldier./ This, in fact, is the basic philosophy of both British and Continental soldiers. ‘In the absence of orders, take a defensive position.’ Indeed, virtually every army in the world. The American soldier and Marine, however, are imbued from early in their training with the ethos: In the Absence of Orders: Attack! Where other forces, for good or ill, will wait for precise orders and plans to respond to an attack or any other ‘incident’, the American force will simply go, counting on firepower and SOP to carry the day.

    This is one of the great strengths of the American force in combat and it is something that even our closest allies, such as the Brits and Aussies (that latter being closer by the way) find repeatedly surprising. No wonder is surprises the hell out of our enemies.)

    We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is – from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.

    To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America’s army’s deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owned this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers”.

    Everyone complains about the quality of ‘the new guys.’ Don’t. The screw-ups of this modern generation are head and shoulders above the ‘high-medium’ of any past group. Including mine.So much of ‘The scum of the earth, enlisted for drink.’

    This is ‘The Greatest Generation’ of soldiers.

    They may never be equaled.”

    … especially as Obama and the Democrats succeed in gutting and weakening American armed forces.

  16. TrueBlueDevil

    The new “hero”: “Lying wounded himself in the intensive care unit of a French hospital Tuesday morning was Virginia native Mark Moogalian, the man who wrestled the AK-47 from suspected gunman Ayoub el-Khazzani.”

    So 4 Yanks, a Frenchie and a Brit.

    1. sisterhood

      “Liberals tend to be more pessimistic people… see the half empty side of almost everything much more strongly that the half full end”

      I disagree. So many of my friends whom you would label as liberals volunteer to make their community better. Many also worked their entire careers for social organizations (some public, some private). Their desire to improve their communities makes them hopeful optimists.

      I’m sure many wealthy conservatives also volunteer. I guess they just pick different organizations. The majority of the folks I volunteer with identify as Dem’s or Green Party. I’ve pretty much stopped labeling myself & prefer the term Independent.

      1. Frankly

        Conservatives give much more to charity than do liberals.   They work in churches and other faith-based organizations to donate time to help the needy.  Liberals don’t own the market for this… and tend to fall short compared to conservatives in many ways… except for their demands to increase taxes on everyone so the government can also operate as their favorite charity.

        But this wasn’t my point.  There are plenty of studies that prove that conservatives are happier than liberals.  Liberals are driven more from a position of being unhappy and unsatisfied and more likely to agitate for causes.  But even when they succeed in getting their way, it does not help for long and they are back again demanding the next placebo to their unhappiness.  Gay marriage… check.  Next stop, suing private organizations and demanding government force them to provide gay marriage services.  It never stops when you are a liberal… because as a liberal you are never quite happy with life.

        Part of the problem with conservatives is that they tend to be more satisfied with life and are not as politically active for that reason.   And they are getting their clocks cleaned by liberals that are always politically active demanding constant “progress”.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          Another problem is that married white women vote 2/3 conservative, and single mothers vote 2/3 liberal, which makes sense as they generally rely on social services to a greater degree than looking to their husband. With marriage falling out of favor, and a wide-open border, we may soon be a defacto liberal nation.

          I have seen a rise in Chinese-American political action, such as several demonstrations against abortion and other causes in San Francisco, but I think the numbers may be too small to counter the effects on the other side.

          I’ve also heard some that postulate that conservatives tend to believe in a higher power, whereas many liberals have now made politics their religions… which would cause all kinds of problems! No relief there.

          I wonder if a Cruz / Dr. Carson ticket could expand the conservative footprint?

  17. Barack Palin

    Liberals just can’t stand to think that America is considered exceptional by many.  Even when we have some patriots do something exceptional they have to make sure that America doesn’t get any of the credit.

    1. Davis Progressive

      it would be more accurate to say that many liberals are concerned that exceptionalism is used to justify the status quo and inequality.  that as we hold up the great things about this country, we overlook the problems.

        1. Davis Progressive

          i think they point out the limits of the great things.  but i’d also point out in the last few years – so too are conservatives and patriotism not only has become partisan in the traditional sense, it has become partisan in terms of who is in the white house.

        2. Frankly

          it has become partisan in terms of who is in the white house.

          I don’t think this is exactly right.  I think any President that pushes a largely unilateral ideological agenda is going to foment partisanship.  Clinton certainly was not liked by conservatives, but the overall political climate was much less partisan.  That is because Clinton worked with Congress instead of constantly demeaning the GOP side and refusing to work with them.  The great liberal-media propped up lie was that the GOP was the party of No.  But the liberal Dem puppets under Obama (namely Reid and some of Pelosi) made sure he didn’t have to veto anything by so the Dem political apparatus could continue the false claim that it was the GOP doing nothing.  In fact, the Democrats effectively prevented the Senate from doing much other than Obama’s agenda.

          Liberals dwell on the problems and tend to overlook the great things.

          I agree with this.

          Liberals tend to be more pessimistic people… see the half empty side of almost everything much more strongly that the half full end.  I heard this explained to me and it makes sense.  For a progressive to admit progress it destroys his stock and trade to criticize and demand progress.

          It seems that some liberals are easily emotionally wounded and prone to holding an eternal grudge that shapes their worldview and politics.  I can see some of this as caused by them lacking religion in their life… especially Christianity that teaches the meaning and purpose of forgiveness.

          And I know some conservatives that are emotionally stunted… unable to see the half empty side and relying on religion to help make up for the fact that they are just mean spirited.

        3. Barack Palin

          but i’d also point out in the last few years – so too are conservatives and patriotism not only has become partisan in the traditional sense, it has become partisan in terms of who is in the white house.

          I can agree with this to a certain extent.  But if you look at the comments on this article it’s pretty much conservatives arguing that we are indeed an exceptional country and liberals who are saying we aren’t even though Obama is President.

        4. Davis Progressive

          to both frankly and barack: there was a big article in the national review last year trumpeting the “end of american exceptionalism” and it was wrapped into a critique of obama and left policies.

          frankly:

          “Clinton certainly was not liked by conservatives, but the overall political climate was much less partisan. ”

          i disagree with your take on things here.  what i see is that in the 1990s we saw a dramatic increase in washington partisanship and things have increasingly ratcheted up over the clinton, bush, and now obama administrations.  things were no where near as partisan in 1993, but you started to see the blueprint with the rise of fillibusters and a host of policies past with zero republican votes in 1993 and 1994.  then you had the republican takeover and things increased, the scene flipped in 2001 when bush took over, and now the democrats became the obstructionists and took the tools of the republicans and increased, now they are even more hyper-partisan under obama.  i don’t view it as the president, i just believe that the tactics of the out-party have been refined.  i also btw, don’t think this is healthy for the country, but i don’t see it ending any time soon.

        5. Frankly

          The war between the two political parties has always existed… at least since the late 1800s.  And during that time graft and political corruption was much, much worse that it comes close to being today.

          But partisanship today is much more personal and visceral than it has every been.  Tip Oneal and Bill Clinton actually liked each other and got together frequently.

          Obama and Reid are “finger in the eye” politicians.

          It is different with them… especially Obama.  He disregards and disrespects conservatives and Republicans.  We all know it.  We all feel it.  We all see it.  It isn’t just the politicians that he demonstrates such disdain for… it is also those voters.  Same with Reid and Pelosi.

          We have never had top leaders that behaved this way.   Democrats and Republicans that won this most powerful seat would campaign more extreme to their base, and then govern from the center-right or center-left.  This has not happened with the Obama Reid show… and it has much more divided the electorate.

        6. TrueBlueDevil

          DP, Obama flat out lied about the Affordable Care Act, and failed to bring the GOP into the plan. Previous Congressional leaders have said for any legislation to survive it needs at least 70 votes in the Senate (that may be a Tip O’Neil quote). Obama rammed it through without such, bought off votes, and then used procedural tricks I had never even heard of to get it passed.

          Contrast that with Social Security and Medicare, which had bi-partisan approval and support. Maybe Obama was using Saul Alinsky tactics with his lies and a complicit media.

          9/11 brought us all together, gave Bush Jr a purpose, and it opened the floodgates of spending which Democrats always love, so it was the pigs feeding at the trough on both sides of the isle.

          The GOP has had 2 strong mid-year elections but has done little with it, so I’m not sure why the Left is whining. The Left have gutted the military, increased spending, printed money galore, stopped the XL pipeline, handed out goodies for solar flops, lied about the ACA, used “Executive actions” at a record level in ways which many think subverts the Constitution, brought in millions of illegal immigrants and not secured out border. Why are they mad? Their policies failed to get the economy moving.

        7. TrueBlueDevil

          Frankly, I’m told 3rd hand from high-quality sources that Valerie Jarrett runs the show. What should we expect?

          I think you mis-typed when you said Tip and Bubba got along, of coarse they would; I think you meant Reagan & Tip O’Neil.

          I will quibble with you on another point, that graft was worse back in the day. Hillary and Bill pocketed, that we know, $221 Million in a 10-14 year period! Bill allegedly was running off to some underage sex island with a New York billionaire, and Hillary has taken moves that would make Richard Nixon blush. And we have no idea what happened in Libya, were we running guns?

  18. Tia Will

    Frankly

    talk about the “incredible” cruelty of Americans.”

    A few thoughts about your post.

    1. I don’t think that we are exceptionally cruel. Nor do I believe that we are exceptional in the sense that people use the word to describe Americans when we are discussing patriotism. I believe that we are human beings with the same capacity for exceptional behavior and the same capacity for cruelty as any other human beings. And that was my point from the beginning.

    2. Outside the statute of limitations ?  All of these things happened within my lifetime. That is hardly outside my statute of limitations !

    3. The question was examples of cruelty by Americans. The questioner did not specify within or outside the limitations of war. I happen to believe that the wars in question in my post were not justifiable and therefore the atrocities that were committed within them were not justifiable. And I still think that it is within the definition of “cruelty” to burn children to death. You may not agree, but I will stand my ground on that one.

    4. Likewise with water boarding. I don’t care whether one would use the word “torture” or not. I am quite sure that if it were being done to us, which by the way is my standard, we would consider it “cruel”.

    I do not see my comments as being negative towards America or Americans. What I have stated again and again is that I believe that we are human beings like every other human being. As individuals and as a country we have a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. I am thoroughly secure in my identity as a human being and as an American. I appreciate greatness, kindness, bravery and generosity where I find them. I do not feel any need to attribute these traits to nationality, tribe, race, religion, gender or any other qualifier. I understand that there are some who do, which is why I have made no negative comments or scoffed at anyone’s perceptions that happen to be different from my own.

    1. sisterhood

      I agree.

      Re: cruelty, and its prevention:  I’d like to add, we need the military on our own soil almost as much as we need to send our young men and women to foreign lands. I recently read of an organization called BACA – bikers against child abuse. Wonderful volunteers. I was wondering why our national guard couldn’t do something like what BACA is doing: escort survivors to their trial dates. Also, serve as body guards for women who have restraining orders against violent people, until their court dates. And possibly for a while after the felon is released. We could be using our military more effectively in our own country. Domestic violence is a horribly cruel epidemic.

  19. Tia Will

    do you put Iran in that group of who we should act with passivity?”

    I don’t understand your comment. What have I written that would make you think that I would deal with any particular group with “passivity”. I think that you and I probably are defining the word “passivity” differently. If you mean do I believe that we should use every diplomatic means available with Iran just as I would with any other country before any kind of “pre-emptive strike”, then my answer is yes. Do you mean that if we are not using military force that we are being “passive” ?

    I don’t define diplomacy as “passivity”. One can be very proactive and assertive with diplomacy.

  20. Anon

    Tia Will: “I do not see my comments as being negative towards America or Americans.

    You could have fooled me!  Your comment to a feel good story that celebrated the accomplishments of 3 brave Americans who saved an entire train from mass slaughter, is to fault the author for being proud of his country for producing such fine young men.  You then trot out numerous perceived faults with what America has done in the past.  The term “Debbie Downer” comes to mind…

  21. Tia Will

    Anon

    Well you have apparently neglected to read or process my statements of pride in the young men involved. And I would have been equally proud of their actions had they been from Nigeria, or Turkey, or Bahrain, or China. Just because I do not think that their actions are unique because they are American, I am apparently some kind of doomsayer.

    I fully believe that America is exceptional in some ways. I do not believe that we are exceptional in other ways. Is this really so different from what you believe ?  Do you truly believe that we are “all good” or even “better in all ways” than other countries. Because if you cannot make this statement, then we are really not far apart at all, but I will admit that I have certainly stirred up a hornet’s nest of “I am a better American than you ” thinking !

    If you believe in collective glory, then why do you not believe in collective responsibility for our “warts” as you called them ?

  22. TrueBlueDevil

    We seem to be different in some fundamental ways. Germany marched across Europe, and no one with enough might stood up to stop Hitler. Then when we did, with Britain and Russia, as WWII ended we acted in a more moral manner (I would say) while Russian wanted to gobble up more land. I guess you could just blame this on their leader, but he thought we wouldn’t stand up to him, we did, and hence the Cold War.

    China has recently wiped out Tibet, eviscerated it’s culture, and would probably like to do the same to Taiwan. Don’t they have enough land, money, power, and issues to deal with?

    New Guinea and Fiji practiced cannibalism up into modern times, so I’d say we are more evolved than them. (Sorry.) 

    It is really breathtaking the amount of innovation, inventions, including medical breakthroughs that come from America. I guess much of this can be attributed to our capitalistic and democratic underpinnings.

    Western Europe is a bit more complex. They have many of our attributes, but having two great world wars fought on their soil has had an impact on their psyche, understandably. Yet they also can count on us to save their chestnuts from the fire when push comes to shove, and they can thus spend more money on their social experiments.

    This is not to say there aren’t good people  everywhere. There are. Part of this is also probably attributable to the fact that so many people in South and Central America just struggle to survive, same for Africa. But you’d figure with all of the inventions and knowledge available, they’d be able to kick start their economies and get rolling. This is probably where widespread education comes, rule of law, property rights, and capitalism come into play. The good news is starvation is consistently declining, and there are worldwide improvements in many areas.

    But at least for now, we continue to seem to be different and maintain a worldwide leadership role despite our current President mucking things up.

  23. hpierce

    Much of this dicussion misses an important reality.  It unlikely that any of those involved in stopping the miscreant thought about “bravery”, “being a man”, whatever.  By training and/or instinct (suspect at a primeval level) they recognized a threat (to their lives and perhaps others) and acted.  It is most likely a survival instinct (which is a very good thing!).  They did what they felt they needed to do.  No more, no less.  Seeing the guy who got back to Sacto, was paraded out by the Mayor and other ‘jingoists’, he looked positively embarassed/awkward by the attention he was getting.  I actually think he required more ‘bravery’ to put up with that than he did dealing with the original situation.

    Not as dramatic, but I’ve been faced with situations where the brain is actually disengaged, except listening to the gut and doing what needs to be done (to protect myself/others).  If you haven’t experienced that ‘feeling’ (raw emotion), you will never understand it.  Heroes don’t (generally) ‘create’ themselves.  It’s a construct of those who don’t ‘get it’.

    4-5 folk did what was needed, lived to tell about it.  That is HUGE, in the world today.  But, evolutionarily speaking, it is what we are ‘programmed’ to do.

    Ask any Medal of Honor recipient.  90+% of the time, they will downplay what they did.  It’s what they HAD to do.  They did not choose their situations or actions.

    Think how a mama bear acts when her cubs are in danger. Is she being ‘brave’ or heroic, or just being a good mama bear?

     

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      So if those on the train acted in a like fashion, you’re saying the train occupants were 80% American? Not likely.

      It appears that passivity / non-engagement has been drilled into many Europeans. When I was in Europe several times I was surprised when harassing behavior was exhibited towards women, and the surrounding men seemed dis-interested. I typically had a language barrier (travelling through many countries), but I did step in to alert police when a French-African man pinned a French-African woman up against a wall with what looked like a sharp object in a threatening manner. How could hundreds of people on a busy street not see this? Was it because they might have been immigrants, African, or ???? I interceded, the police stepped in, and she was at least safe for the short term.

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