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(E) "Evil" Syntactical Minimalism
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/14/2002 | Politics | Unrated
(E) "Evil" Syntactical Minimalism
"Nacionalizam je grobar imperijalizma" 
Onward and Upward 
By George F. Will 
Tuesday, March 12, 2002; Page A21 
Throughout the six months since Sept. 11, Americans, who have a sociological 
itch and a psychoanalytic bent, have examined themselves for signs that, as 
was said immediately after the attacks, "everything has changed." Actually, 
almost everything is almost always very much as it was six months earlier. 
But since the attacks, there have been some welcome changes, manifested in 
many things, from rhetoric to music to manners to reading. 
President Bush's rhetorical style -- syntactical minimalism: Midland, Tex., 
meets MBA-speak -- is what it was before Sept. 11, but it suits the new 
sobriety. Were Bush to attempt the Ciceronian flourishes of John Kennedy 
("Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though 
arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are . . .") it 
would be like Handel played on a harmonica. Bush's terseness is Ernest 
Hemingway seasoned by John Wesley. 
His promiscuous use of the word "evil" is partly an unself-conscious 
expression of his religiosity. But he also uses "evil" for a policy purpose 
similar to Ronald Reagan's in calling the Soviet Union the "evil empire" and 
"the focus of evil in the modern world." 
Reagan intended to re-moralize foreign policy, which had been de-moralized 
by detente, which Reagan believed had demoralized Americans. Bush 
understands that the heat from burning jet fuel made the national mind akin 
to hot wax -- malleable. Gone is the judgment that "judgmentalism" is 
intolerant, hence intolerable. Gone, too, is the intelligentsia's consensus 
that the only absolute is relativism -- the doctrine that all values are 
mere "social constructs," hence equally arbitrary and evanescent. Since 
Sept. 11, America's mind is no longer so open that everything of value falls 
Soon after Sept. 11, Wal-Mart's shelves held Little Patriots Diapers, 
spangled with little blue stars. Americans are not only virtuosos of 
marketing, they are famously patriotic. Nationalistic, too. Patriotism is 
love of one's country; nationalism is the assertion of national superiority. 
Nationalism is the rejection of cultural relativism, the basis of 
"multiculturalism." Hence nationalism is anathema to the avant garde. 
It is axiomatic that everything changes except the avant garde, which in 
America is frozen in an adversarial pose toward the nation beyond the campus 
gates. But who cares? It has been 40 years since the Kennedy administration 
was stocked with academics chattering about a confluence of the Charles and 
Potomac rivers. Sept. 11 sealed the self-marginalization of the adversarial 
The world has moved onward and, for now, upward, as Terry Teachout, the 
distinguished music critic, discovered in an epiphany at a Manhattan 
McDonald's. There a radio was playing music, and the music was neither rock 
nor rap. It was Diana Krall, the jazz singer, elegantly rendering "The Look 
of Love." 
"Beauty," Teachout wrote in early January, "is becoming fashionable again." 
Which means it has become mentionable again. The idea of beauty was another 
casualty of the silly socialization -- "Everything is relative" -- of the 
idea of relativity in physics. Beauty, like truth, was declared "relative," 
meaning "socially conditioned" and a matter of opinion. Then, says Teachout, 
came Sept. 11's brutal reminder "that some things aren't a matter of 
When Teachout wrote that, Krall's "The Look of Love" was eighth on's list of best-selling CDs. Two months later it is still high on 
the list, at 15th. It includes such standards as "S'Wonderful," "Cry Me a 
River" and "I Get Along Without You Very Well." 
Are standards out of date? Certainly. They always are out of date. That, 
says playwright Alan Bennett, is why we call them standards. 
Chippendale-style furniture, crystal chandeliers and the wearing of suits on 
no-longer-quite-so-casual-Fridays are back in fashion. To the lingering 
1960s sensibility, formality, decorousness and etiquette seemed 
authoritarian. Since Sept. 11 they seem respectful and reassuring. 
The New York Times bestseller list includes two hefty biographies of dead 
white males, David McCullough's "John Adams," already a bestseller before 
Sept. 11, and Edmund Morris's study of Teddy Roosevelt, "Theodore Rex." 
Perhaps Sept. 11 strengthened the public's immunity to the theory of many 
academic historians ("history from the bottom up" or "history with politics 
left out") that any biography -- other than of, say, a midwife in 
14th-century Barcelona -- is reactionary because it suggests that some 
people matter more than others in the human story. 
These have been six difficult months for diversity-mongers who preach that 
America is a mere "mosaic" -- coagulated groups rather than united 
individuals. And difficult months for the "everything is just a matter of 
opinion" chorus. These have been good months. 
© 2002 The Washington Post Company 
Gorge Will je i prije razumno pisao o nacionalizmu, na primjer u WP od 11. 
kolovoza 1991. : 
"Nu u moderno doba, demokracija pretpostavlja nacionalizam. Nacionalizam je 
osjecaj zajednicke sudbine baziranoj na zajednickoj povijesti i civilnoj 
kulturi unutar odredjena podrucja. Ukljucuje pozitivan ponos--preferenciju 
za bastinjenu tradiciju i mjesne posebnosti. Kao sto pise Noel Malcolm, 
demokracija je vladavina naroda, a nacionalizam je preduvjet za oblikovanje 
naroda. Ruzno je, kaze, od diplomata iz nezavisnih drzava dijeliti lekcije 
porobljenim narodima u Sovjetskomu Savezu i Jugoslaviji o nepozeljnosti 
nacionalne nezavisnosti. 
Demokracija je postala moguca kada su razliciti narodi postigli nacionalne 
radije nego vjerske ili dinasticke lojalnosti. Demokracija moze napredovati 
u staroj sovjetskoj sferi samo kad cvjetaju nacionalizmi, koji su bili dugo 
potiskivani od anti-nacionalnih ideologija." 
Nacionalizam je grobar imperijalizma i imperijalnih tvorevina. To 
imperijalisti ne mogu nacionalizmu nikad oprostiti. 
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