21 August 2021
In today’s Wall Street Journal, in an article about the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, Peggy Noonan asked this question:
Why did the White House think the 20th anniversary of 9/11 was the right date for a pullout? What picture of America do they carry in their heads that told them that would be symbolically satisfying? It is as if they are governed by symbols with no understanding of what the symbols mean.
It occurs to me that the question — “What picture of America do they carry in their heads…?” — is much broader than the context of our policy in Afghanistan. It is, in fact, the question at the heart of nearly all the cultural and political divisions rending America these days.
The right asks that question of the left. The left asks that question of the right. And both left and right — and the vast middle that both left and right disdain and ignore — fear and despise the answer that they think and feel — or, all too often, imagine — the other side would offer if it was ever to be explicitly articulated.
That is, perhaps, the most important conversation of our generation: What picture of America do we carry in our heads? And can we come to some, if not consensus, then at least forbearance on what that picture looks like?
If not, we are truly lost…
© Copyright 2021, Augustus P. Lowell