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Friday, September 25, 2015

David Brooks, "The American Idea and Today’s G.O.P.": Not As Simple As David Believes



Deriding an "anguished cry" from certain Republicans for a "receding America," David Brooks begins his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The American Idea and Today’s G.O.P." by observing:

"America was settled, founded and built by people who believed they were doing something exceptional. Other nations were defined by their history, but America was defined by its future, by the people who weren’t yet here and by the greatness that hadn’t yet been achieved.

American founders like Alexander Hamilton were aware that once the vast continent was settled the United States would be one of the dominant powers of the globe."

Well, the image of Alexander Hamilton is soon to be removed from America's ten dollar bill, and as was observed by Nick Bryant in a July 10, 2015 BBC article entitled "The decline of US power?":

"George W Bush, a president with a Manichean worldview, was widely seen as over-eager to project America's military might, without adequately considering the long-term consequences.

Barack Obama, who campaigned in 2008 on a platform of extricating America from its unpopular and exhausting wars, has drawn criticism for disengaging too much.

Under both presidents - the first an impulsive unilateralist, the second an instinctive multilateralist content sometimes to lead from behind - America's global standing has been diminished."

America is no longer the superpower it once was? Is this indeed the reason why Bashar al-Assad ignored Obama's so-called "red line" involving the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, and why Obama backed down from his demands, e.g. anytime, anywhere inspections and the dismantlement of all Iranian centrifuges, in order to reach an unsigned nuclear deal with Supreme Leader Khamenei? Could be. You see, when Obama finally leaves office in January 2017, the United States will be in debt to the tune of some $19 trillion, or stated otherwise, effectively bankrupt.

Brooks's op-ed, however, appears to be more concerned with Republican immigration policy than with America's demise as a superpower, and in this regard he writes:

"Today there are some conservative commentators and Republican politicians who talk a lot about American exceptionalism. But when they use the phrase they mean the exact opposite of its original meaning. In fact, they are effectively destroying American exceptionalism.

. . . .

Out of this backward- and inward-looking mentality comes a desire to exclude. Donald Trump talks falsely and harshly about Hispanic immigrants. Ben Carson says he couldn’t advocate putting 'a Muslim in charge of this nation.'"

But what if this so-called "desire to exclude" stems not from a "backward- and inward-looking mentality," but rather from a coldly calculated economic determination that America can no longer afford to open the floodgates of immigration? Should the United States be seeking out scientists and academicians from overseas who can grow the American economy and rescue it from disaster?

Brooks notes that "[i]mmigrant men age 18 to 39 are incarcerated at roughly one-fourth the rate of American men, yet he fails to point out that as reported by the Pew Research Center in an August 30, 2011 article entitled "Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism," eight percent of US Muslims believe that suicide bombing can "often/sometimes" be justified. Imagine: If you randomly place 100 American adult Muslims in a room, only eight of them think that it's "often/sometimes" justified to blow you to bits.

Regrettably with respect to immigration, America is facing a dilemma, and there are no simple answers.

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