My good friend, and frequent WWWtW commentator, Michael Bauman, forwarded to me this excerpt from a piece authored by former U. N. Ambassador, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick. According to Mike, "I am impressed that she reached this conclusion about us nearly 25 years ago, during Reagan's first term, and that in the meantime the failing she notes has only grown worse."
from Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, "The Will to Disbelieve" (Hoover Institute, 1984):
"The will to disbelieve the horrible is, I believe, a defining characteristic of the contemporary West, of no society more than our own. Because we cannot remember the fact of danger, we have great trouble protecting ourselves, our freedom and civilization. But the persistence of the horrible is only one of the lessons we are unwilling to learn. Almost as strong as the will to disbelieve the shackling of freedom imposed upon society after society by our only major contemporary adversary is the will to disbelieve our own worthiness. The will to disbelieve that we value freedom and intend to expand and preserve it has been translated into an expectation that we are almost always wrong. It leads to what one leading Washington commentator has called 'reflexive anti-Americanism'. . . Blaming ourselves is the opposite side of the coin to denying the menace outside. It feeds an illusion that we can control events merely by changing our behavior. . .
"Classes in philosophy used to present several 'theories' of truth: the 'correspondence' theory, which requires that an account 'correspond' to observable behavior and empirical evidence, and the 'pragmatic' approach, that of William James and C. S. Peirce, which proposes that we consider the 'effects of a practical kind' of believing an idea true, and which argues that where evidence is indecisive, 'vital and moral interests should determine the choice' about the truth of a belief. By either standard, disbelief in the evidence concerning the strength and intentions of either our adversaries or ourselves is dysfunctional. It does not correspond to the demonstrable patterns of contemporary history, and it is not, as James said a true idea should be, 'profitable to our lives'.