Is learning unpatriotic? The question itself might seem vaguely offensive, but one has to wonder given the howls about Obama “apologizing for America” anytime he publicly intimates that any past foreign policy of the United States might have been mistaken—or, heaven forfend, even be the source of some degree of international animus against us. Bracket for a moment the question of whether any particular past policy is defensible, or was reasonable at the time, or has been blown out of proportion, or whatever else. Isn’t it just unhealthy to hamper honest reconsideration of past policies—or credible signalling of policy change—by adding this extra emotional baggage? Admittedly, it’s a somewhat selective synecdoche: Differ from Dwight Eisenhower’s foreign policy and you’re ashamed of America, but Jimmy Carter? That’s all on him. Still, much as I get there’s a certain value to policy consistency even when the policy is suboptimal, this kind of default hostility to acknowledgement of error as some kind of character defect seems like a perversely proud refusal to learn from mistakes.
We Never Make Mistakes
June 23rd, 2009 · 7 Comments