I love reading about the history of America and some of the best critiques come from outside our country. Two of my favorite quotes comes from the idea of the “Tyranny of the Majority”. That is when the majority in our country tends to deny basic civil rights to various minority groups. Of course the most glaring one is slavery but there is also the murder of millions of native Americans during the conquest of their native lands.
The term “Tyranny of the Majority” was widely employed in mid-nineteenth-century America in conjunction with a series of moral questions (Sabbath, temperance, racial equality) that gave rise to organized minority groups in American political life.
Here are a couple of quotes about that:
The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.—Lord Acton — The History of Freedom in Antiquity, 1877
The majority (party in America) lives in the perpetual utterance of self-applause; and there are certain truths which the Americans can only learn from strangers – Alexis De Tocqueville
“Perpetual utterance of self-applause” is one of my favorite De Tocqueville quotes. It says something about the general character of our citizenry I think even in the 1800s. We just love applauding ourselves and thinking how great we are. We simply can do no wrong.
So many in the “perpetual utterance” crowd look into the past and dream that America will once again be what it was. They look at life from a “white supremacy” point of view. They simply don’t see our blemishes. Recognizing our faults and apologizing for them is the first step in reconciliation and true peace. But whenever a leader tries to do that he is quickly admonished. Here is a little about that:
Apparently “acknowledging that America has been a force for good” in the world, as Obama did, is not enough. The man who leads the nation that is by almost any measure indisputably the most powerful on earth must go furtherto make a fool of himself and the country by defending an escapade from half-a-century ago that nearly everyone acknowledges was an embarrassing blunder. ..he must also robustly defend American exceptionalismand thus American moral superioritybefore foreign audiences, evidently because it’s the president’s duty to provoke anger and resentment, and thus opposition to our global leadership, around the world.
Germany, in its search for reconciliation, now openly admits to the evil that Hitler did to the world. We in America on the other hand have never dared to look on our dark side. Our perpetual utterance of self-applause is holding us back from being the great nation we could be and a true shining example for the world.