The American Prism

Hartz noted in the mid-1950s that the distinctive American ethos he described can lead to either messianism or isolationism, with a tendency to oscillate between the two. “An absolute national morality,” he wrote, “is inspired either to withdraw from ‘alien’ things or to transform them: it cannot live in comfort constantly by their side.”

—Paul Pillar, Why America Misunderstands the World, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), 16.

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