THE NEW AMERICAN • DECEMBER 25, 200613
all that reminds one more of a hungry pack of dogs fighting over a few scraps of foodthan of the civilized behavior of moral andrational beings.Consider this most recent Black Fri-day. According to the
New York Times
,this year 15,000 eager shoppers lined upoutside a shopping mall in Utah waitingfor the doors to open at midnight. Whenthey finally got in, it was a stampede.“Once inside,” the
reported, “shop-pers ransacked stores, overturning pilesof clothes as they looked for bargains. Aretailer’s dream — too many customers!— quickly turned into a nightmare, forc-ing store clerks to shut their doors, andonly let people in after others left. Themall even briefly closed its outside doorsto avoid a fire hazard. ‘It’s like a mosh pit,’said Lexie Dewegel, 19. ‘You get pushedeverywhere.’”What to make of this? For years — dec-ades even — conservative-minded Ameri-cans have opposed the secular, multi-cultural, relativist, left-wing attack ontraditional values and have lamented thedepredations that have been the result of that attack. That attack, and the inroads ithas made, accounts for much dismay andpessimism, but it is compounded by thehabits of the news media. “Bad news sells”is a truism that hardly needs elaboration —but the propensity for the papers and TVnews to carry stories of crime, war, theft,and rapine necessarily reinforces the ideathat the end of civilization is near.The news is history in embryonic form,and the great historians Will and ArielDurant remind us “that history as usu-ally written is quite different from his-tory as usually lived: the historian recordsthe exceptional because it is interesting— because it is exceptional.” So too doesthe news only report the exceptional, thestrange, and the unusual. Only those eventsthat rise above the background noise of normalcy receive notice. Evil is done inthe world, and problems abound, but ourperception as to the prevalence of evil andof cultural rot and decay is skewed out of proportion, magnified by our fascinationwith the morbid and the extreme.Clearly there is evil, but the perceptionof a superabundance of evil obscures thetruth about America: that there are mil-lions upon millions of people living “nor-mal” lives in which they, quite heroically,devote themselves to their families,work hard, give freely to charity,go to church or synagogue, and liveat peace with their neighbors. Andtoo, it obscures the uplifting factthat in America, unique among na-tions, the natural, God-given rightsand dignities of all citizens are as of yet largely respected and protected.Consequently, the United States rose
A shopper gives money to the Salvation Army during that organization’sfamous Christmastime Red Kettle Campaign. Americans are the most generous people on Earth,giving some $260 billion to charity each year.