Summary One: The American Character
“The American Character”, written by American historian and social critic Morris Berman (2006), challenges the notion of multiculturalism in America, and how the vision of economic prosperity and self-preservation has created a sense of mainstream behavior that rarely gives way to cultural background, race or religion. Berman begins by suggesting that regardless of an individual’s culture, their interest lies in an expanding market economy, and that the basic vision of most Americans is far from diverse. Berman expands on the thoughts of historian David Potter (1954), who claimed that American’s are not bound together by geographical borders, rather, common psychological traits that characterize these individuals as a group. As a nation, Americans are driven by a common force of “material abundance”, irrespective of whether they are black, Hispanic, or white. Berman concludes by stating that religion also plays an important role in shaping the individualistic attitudes of many Americans. While wealth may be the primary incentive behind the American ideology, Berman is quick to share the cultural aspects that are viewed as diversity are actually supporting forces behind America’s unified dream.
Summary Two: What Are We Fighting For
“What Are We Fighting For”, written by veteran journalist Rex Murphy (2006), suggests that the motives behind the activities of Canadian troops in Afghanistan strike a balance between our nation’s own self-interest and humanitarian efforts.. Murphy begins by summarizing the commitment of the Canadian government in efforts to eliminate the Taliban and al-Qaeda; both were participating forces in the 9/11 attacks, which affected both the USA and Canada alike. Murphy continues by noting that in addition to self-interest, the Canadian government has a strong concern for humanitarian efforts directed towards the safety of the Afghanistan nation. Murphy argues that the Canadian troops are fighting to provide Afghanistan with the same democratic and liberal rights that Canada has. With many negative forces, such as the Taliban and other so-called insurgents, Murphy claims Canada must provide forces in order to help Afghanistan extend their basic rights. Murphy concludes by comparing our own interest, and the value of providing support to be the rationale behind the Canadian forces in Afghanistan.
Murphy notes that gaining a certain level of understanding and appreciation for these efforts will ensure such efforts are maintained.