Mort Report is a labor of love by old-style correspondents with lifetimes on the road and young ones with fresh eyes. Our philosophy is simple: we report at first hand with analysis based on non-alternative fact, not opinion. If we get something wrong, we fix it.
CALABASH, North Carolina – It was no surprise that a roomful of adults turned to a 9-year-old to demystify the computerized kitchen range at our rented beach house near here. But it was flat-out eerie that she also could have corrected our Chinese grammar had we known any to correct.
At our first meeting, she froze me rigid with a patronizing sneer; I got her name wrong. Later, she warmed up with a friendly kid smile when I disgraced myself playing cacophonic harmonica backup to my nephew Jon’s guitar mastery. After that, we were buddies.
Little S., in a fancy school for smart kids, fits a pattern I’ve noticed in trying to make sense of the generational shifts I see in serial snapshots, like time-frame photography, when I come from abroad to teach journalism students and to probe into a foreign society I once knew well.
Lots of young people sparkle with brilliance, self-assured and curious about a world they’ll have to un-fuckup. They are, however, the exception. The United States has come a long way from its raw-boned frontier days when Alexis de Tocqueville wrote his hoary tome, Democracy in America.
In 1835, the iconic French sociologist noted “a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom."
Today, he would find many of those weak wanting to suppress the weaker, believing that raises their own level. And that reduces them to preferring inequality in servitude to a wealthy few, which squanders their freedoms and imperils democratic institutions.
NEW YORK – I think I’ve figured out the American penchant for bombing the crap out of airfields in so many places around the world. It’s just our innate generosity. We want to bring them to the level of La Guardia.
This began as another traveler’s tale of spending 48 woeful hours on what should have been a 90-minute American Airlines hop to the Carolina beaches. But then I stepped back to consider causes and implications. It’s time, as Seth Meyers would say, for a closer look.
Like Abe Lincoln said, you can’t fool all the people all the time. But in a fleeced, flocked-up nation of sheep, you only have to fool enough of the people enough of the time. And as Ben Franklin warned Americans at the outset: “Make yourself sheep and the wolves will eat you.”
Big business understands this, and so do lawmakers who depend on corporate largesse for their jobs. The Democrats have picked an apt campaign slogan for 2018, harking back to those crucial three words in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: for the people.
First, the basic facts.