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Friday, July 15, 2005

Halberstam on America Then and Now

Historian David Halberstam has often struck me as a reliable chronicler of the Eastern Liberal Establishment's perspective on the world. But he does have his moments of original insight, including this from a piece on "A ModestGeneration" he wrote recently for The Harvard Magazine in connection with the reunion of his graduating class of 1955:

"The change in our country in those 50 years, so much of it driven by technology, is startling. We have gone from a semi-Calvinist society, or at least a society that still paid homage to Calvinist values, to a modern, new-entertainment-age culture where we all have television sets which are close to being de facto movie screens in our homes, often with hundreds of channels. "It is a society where, because we are supposed to be entertained at all times, the great new sin is not to sin, but to be boring. As such we have reversed our values--something quite obvious now to anyone watching sports on television.
"The more provocative your behavior, the more you violate the existing norms of the sports society, the more everything is about you, the more handsomely you are likely to be rewarded. If we are a society with a higher level of energy than that of our youth we are also, for a variety of reasons, one with a much lower level of basic civility."

Hat Tip to Rev. Al Mohler for pointing this out.

BTW isn't this post rich with irony? Here we have a certified 100% Grade A spokesman for the secular liberalism that gave us the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier and the Great Society - let's not forget "God is Dead," the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s and the McGovern Movement, either - telling his former Harvard classmates that America was a kinder, gentler (uh, okay, sorry, I just couldn't resist), excuse me, a more civil place when its Christian roots remained strong than it has become under the tutelage of "the best and brightest." And this comes to us courtesy of a former head of the Southern Baptist Convention!

Yes, yes, I know this post doesn't have much to do directly with the stated purpose of Tapscott's Copy Desk, but you know how we old f--ts can be, wandering off the topic, reminiscing about the way things were, the battles of our youth, etc. etc. Just humor me, okay?