America: “A Pants-Piddling Mess”

Brian Cook

After recounting the generous reception that Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev received upon visiting the United States in September 1959, historian Rick Perlstein asks: Had America suddenly succumbed to a fever of weak-kneed appeasement? Was the general running the country—the man who had faced down Hitler!—proven himself what the John Birch Society claimed he was: a conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy? No. Nikita Khrushchev simply visited a nation that had character. That was confident, mature, well-adjusted. A nation confident we were great. We had our neuroses, to be sure—plenty of them. But what progress we have made! Now when a bad guy crosses our threshhold, America becomes a pants-piddling mess. From there, things get a little shrill, as well as hilarious, and 100 percent spot-on. Read it here.

Brian Cook was an editor at In These Times from 2003 to 2009. He now works on the editorial staff of Playboy magazine.
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