Simon Schama is a very good historian. Or, at least I can say with certainty that his book Citizens is a very fine book. It is perhaps the best single volume ever written on the French Revolution. It tells a great story and it never misleads the reader. But alas, as this op-ed in the London Guardian makes clear, he is a man of the Left. And he is an angry man calling not for compromise but for a political mother-of-all-battles between the Demos (as he understands them) and the GOP (as he understands them). His analysis of the great divide in the United States between the red and the blue states he calls comparable to the divide between the Shia and the Sunny! He is a fine writer, this man of the Left, so this long op-ed is very much worth reading just for itself. Yet, it is also worth reading because some very intelligent and thoughtful folks really do think all this, and he defines it as clearly as anyone. Let the healing stop, as he says, and the fight begin. A sample:
"Worldly America, which of course John Kerry won by a massive landslide, faces, well, the world on its Pacific and Atlantic coasts and freely engages, commercially and culturally, with Asia and Europe in the easy understanding that those continents are a dynamic synthesis of ancient cultures and modern social and economic practices. This truism is unthreatening to Worldly America, not least because so many of its people, in the crowded cities, are themselves products of the old-new ways of Korea, Japan, Ireland or Italy. In Worldly America - in San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego, New York - the foreigner is not an anxiety, but rather a necessity. Its America is polycultural, not Pollyanna.
Godly America, on the other hand, rock-ribbed in Dick Cheneys Wyoming, stretched out just as far as it pleases in Dubyas deeply drilled Texas, turns its back on that dangerous, promiscuous, impure world and proclaims to high heaven the indestructible endurance of the American Difference. If Worldly America is, beyond anything else, a city, a street, and a port, Godly America is, at its heart (the organ whose bidding invariably determines its votes over the cooler instructions of the head), a church, a farm and a barracks; places that are walled, fenced and consecrated. Worldly America is about finding civil ways to share crowded space, from a metro-bus to the planet; Godly America is about making over space in its image. One America makes room, the other America muscles in."