I had never before seen a patriotic mosh-pit, but I was gladly trapped in one outside the White House in the hours after Barack Obama's inexorable but still unimaginable victory. I had also never seen young people march on the White House in the cause of joy. But now hundreds of exhilarated students had put down their copies of Negri and Hardt and lucidly picked up American flags, and as they flowed in from Pennsylvania Avenue in the rainy night they sang "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America." I do not mean to exaggerate the beauty of the scene--it was also boorish and hormonal, and I doubt that there was a soul among the cheering, hoodied, text-messaging crowd who cared much about, say, what General Kayani told General Petraeus; but I would be lying, I would be hardened in precisely the way I do not wish to be hardened, if I did not report that the scene was beautiful. When they began to cry "USA! USA!", the jingoistic crudity of the chant was gone; and while they were finding their way to the ferocious assertion of the love of country that had been the trademark of their Republican counterparts, those same counterparts on the other side of the country, the ones now marooned in the Palin-Jindal-Hensarling primitivism, were disgracing John McCain, a lost but wrenchingly honorable man, by jeering at the mention of the new president's name. Americans who were not moved by what happened the other night were in some way un-American. A dry eye was a misinterpretation of American history.
Friday, November 7, 2008
If you were not moved to tears of joy by Obama's victory, you are primitive and un-American. So says, TNR's L. Wieseltier: