Maddening America

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Ben Cohen
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By Ben Cohen

As a transplant to the U.S from Britain, I certainly identify with Andrew Sullivan's exasperation, anger, joy, and awe of his adopted country:

No civilised country sustained


slavery as recently as America or defended segregation as tenaciously as the


American South until just a generation ago. In my lifetime, mixed-race


couples were legally barred from marrying in many states. But equally in my


lifetime, a miscegenated man who grew up in Hawaii won a majority of the


votes in the old slave state of Virginia to become the first minority


president of any advanced western nation.

That is the paradox of America; and after a while you find it hard to
appreciate anything more coherent. What keeps America behind is also what
keeps pushing it relentlessly, fitfully forward.

That Canadian genius Leonard Cohen put it best, perhaps. In his anthem
Democracy he called the United States “the cradle of the best and of the
worst”.