Setting out to prove a thesis statement

It’s not like he didn’t warn us. Lilek’s writes:

I’ll tell you why I haven’t written more about this lately – it’s because there are others who do it so much better, have more to say, and have first-hand experience.

And just to prove his point, he writes:

Time magazine had a Brad-Holland-style cover illo of the prisoner in the Klan hat, and over the magazine’s logo the editors deployed this plaintive cry: How did it come to this?

The crucial word in that sentence is “It.” What is “it,” exactly? The Iraqi campaign? The world birthed on 9/11? The American experience? Us? Them? I suspect it’s intended to be all of the above. It is the promise and glory of America that took a horrid wrong turn and ended up with “this.” That’s the sum total of the planet, right there, a man in a pointy hood. The potential: it. The result: this. The postlapsarian dialectic, as the academics might say, if they wanted to impress their tenured peers.

The story of the prison abuse might have had a different impact if the media had chosen a different tack. The only news that hits the front page is bad news; the innumerable small fragments of good news don’t make A1 because papers have their standards, you see. We are expected to repair Iraq’s dilapidated electrical grid, so replacing an old generator and turning on the power to a neighborhood that’s had brown-outs for ten years is not news. Two Marines dead in an ambush is news because A) death leads, and B) that “mission accomplished” aircraft carrier photo op needs to be debunked, however subtly, as often as possible. The media has come to believe that reporting more good than bad somehow makes them suspect; it goes contrary to The Mission, which is to find out what’s wrong. I had the idea before Jarvis, but he was first to float it: a rebuilding beat. Every day, a story about what’s being accomplished large and small. I’d also pump for the occasional story of heroism, but I suspect that this would make editors uncomfortable. It might be true but it’s not . . . helpful. It would seem like cheerleading.

And we can’t have that.

This smothering gloom, this suppurating corrosion – this isn’t us. This isn’t who we are. If it is, well, we’re lost, because it contains such potent self-hatred that we’ll shrink from defending ourselves, because what we have built isn’t worth defending. Thanks for the push, al Qaeda! We’ll take it from here.

And with that, James gives credence to the Lilek Family Motto:

The unexamined life is probably a pretty good idea.

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Yeah. Like I would tell you....