A Consolation of Decline (Possibly)

by Jay Nordlinger

With today’s Impromptus, I begin a series on Dinesh D’Souza, whose new movie is now in theaters. “America,” it’s called. I say that Dinesh loves America “as only an immigrant can.” (Dinesh grew up in Bombay.) “He loves America without embarrassment, without apology.”

Then, a personal comment, or quasi-personal comment — it applies to a great many:

When I was growing up — and where I was growing up — you could not really talk this way [i.e., in an unblushingly pro-American fashion]. You had to remember America’s sins. Indeed, you had to stress them. You were loath to be a jingo, an Archie Bunker. We were raised on Norman Lear shows (I exaggerate, of course). There was hardly anyone dumber or less respectable than a flag-waver.

After writing today’s installment, I thought of this: For years, America was No. 1, indisputably. Where are we now? A No. 1 should not tout his virtues, or pat himself on the back. A No. 1 can afford to be self-critical, even to a fault.

But if we are to be No. 2 or 4 or 11, what then? Will it be all right to acknowledge what is good, admirable, or unique about America?