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Fourth of July Oratory?

William Safire in The New York Times Magazine:






When the orator Rufus Choate derided ”the glittering and sounding generalities of natural right” that made up the Declaration of Independence, Ralph Waldo Emerson made Choate’s phrase pithier and then demolished it: ”’Glittering generalities’! They are blazing ubiquities.”


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Brian Lamb talks about his Booknotes on American Character in a phone interview with CNN.com.






“America is another name for opportunity,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson.





“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer,” claimed D.H. Lawrence (who, it must be noted, was British).











CNN: American character is something of a broad subject. Is there something distinctive about it?






BRIAN LAMB: There are some things that are unusual about the American character that more than anything come from the way the country was founded … the free enterprise system where somebody who really wants to get ahead in life … can excel, and they don’t have to ask permission of anybody in government, or — for that matter — anybody. … The American character more than anything else I think comes from this ambition.


But there’s no single way to define what the American character is. This book, with its 78 different authors, …gives us a little bit of an idea of what makes this country unusual.


[Read the rest]



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