The great thing about American history is that within three generations at most people whose grandparents were openly scorned and officially or semi-officially segregated can have their children get PhDs at publicly-funded universities and can confidently announce that America has clearly failed because its civic culture lacks the necessary mechanisms that preserve "cultural and racial separations." James is channeling the same dubious sophistication that led the Progressives of the turn of the last century to be so appalled by the shame of the cities. Leaving aside the masses of immigrants with unpronounceable names, strange facial features and pushy, slobbish behavior in public, what truly offended Roosevelt (T.R., not his cousin), Margaret Sanger and the Adams boys was how the immigrants kept committing the same sins that George has observes each year in Hershey. The slobs not only bred, but they interbred. And still do to this day.

Singapore — like the Venetian Republic in its day — is a wonderful triumph of open commerce in a autocratic island; there is no question that every city in America fails by comparison just as 15th-16th-and even 17th century cities in France and Britain failed by comparison with the jewel of the Adriatic. But we decrepit students of history find ourselves wondering how and when events will find a parallel with the day the French Army arrived across the Lagoon.





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