A British professor offers some advice to Americans when a self-appraisal might be more warranted. â€śWhat should Americans do to be saved?â€ť Terry Eagleton asks in the latest issue of The Chronicle Review. â€śThey should try to think negatively.â€ť
â€śLearning how to mock themselves would be an incomparably greater achievement than landing on Mars.â€ťÂ Eagleton is a visiting professor at Lancaster University, in England.
â€śThey should stop selling themselves as the finest country in the world because there is no such thing, any more than there are Gorgons and goblins,â€ť Eagleton asserts of Americans. â€śThere should be compulsory courses for all college freshmen in how not to mean what you say.â€ť
â€śAbove all, they should stop making such a song and dance about salvation.â€ť Eagleton is also a visiting professor at the National University of Ireland.
â€śThey should try to be less moral, idealistic, earnest, and high-minded,â€ť Eagleton advises Americans. â€śThey should take a break from all that uplifting, inspiring, healing, empowering, dreaming, edifying, and aspiring.â€ť
â€śThen they might be more admirable people.â€ť Finally, Eagleton is a visiting professor atÂ the University of Notre Dame, which still claims a Catholic identity.
â€śIn many respectsâ€”in their friendliness, honesty, openness, inventiveness, courtesy, civic pride, ease of manner, generosity of spirit, and egalitarian mannersâ€”they are admirable enough already,â€ť Eagleton writes of Americans. â€śBut Americans are the first to admit that there is always room for improvement.â€ť
â€śIt is an honorable puritan doctrine. The good news about the citizens of this kindly, violent, bigoted, generous-spirited nation is that if ever the planet is plunged into nuclear war, they will be the first to crawl over the edge of the crater, dust themselves down, and proceed to build a new world. The bad news is that they will probably have started the war.â€ť
Eagletonâ€™s essay in The Chronicle Review was adapted from his new book, Across the Pond: An Englishman’s View of America, just out from W.W. Norton & Company.
Newt Gingrich has described Europe as in a state of â€śelegant decay.â€ť What happens when they lose the elegance?
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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