Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Laid to Rest

I don't think we ever really understood Solzhenitsyn. When he came to America, we wanted him to like us and be one of us, which is generally how we treat foreign dignitaries.

Solzhenitsyn offers us the great lesson of a dissident who was a passionate nationalist. We don't see that type often here. Even more seldom do we grow them. Our dissidents tend to identify themselves as "citizens of the world" or of humanity, and to regard America, and especially American nationalism, as the world's great evil.

He lived in Vermont, and his heart never left Mother Russia. His courtesy to us, his gift to us in exchange for our hospitality, was to look at America as a patriotic dissident would, and say the things about it a dissident nationalist would say about us, if we had one, if Solzhenitsyn had been an American. We are only beginning to appreciate the gift.

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