Whose country?

I’ve talked a bit recently about the book Us and Them. Getting behind stereotypes has been on my mind lot lately.

So Andrew Sullivan’s blog exploration of “whose country” America actually is (continued 2 3 4 5 6) has been fascinating. He’s summed it up in a Sunday Times piece: Scratch white America and beneath it is black. There are obvious parallels for those in the UK who’ve been arguing about whose country Britain is.

In human history there is no purity only change. There is no stability, only flux. The past always inhabits the present, even as the present tries to distort or co-opt the past in its own myths and dreams. That many white Americans do not even acknowledge or realise how black they are — and that many African-Americans do not grasp how utterly different they have become from those Africans they were forced to leave behind centuries ago — does not alter this reality. In some ways, it deepens it. It is so deep it has become unconscious.

And he continues:

It is a pied kind of beauty, this diversity. And those who wish to simplify it, to reduce it to some biological or racial element that renders us something other than we actually are, are not in any way conservatives. They are fantasists and bigots, deaf to the music true nations make, and the many variations that still make their melodies soar.

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