The Dartmouth Observer

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Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Peter Singer on America

Is America overrated? Princeton (there seems to be a trend here; see previous post) bioethicist Singer certainly thinks so (he probably thinks the same about humans and human life):

What Americans overrate most is — America. They imagine that they live in the most democratic nation on earth, but in the United States, to a far greater extent than in many other democracies, electorates are shamelessly gerrymandered, the voting system squeezes out minor parties, Wyoming has as many senators as California, and money gives the rich a wildly disproportionate share of power and influence.

Americans think they are the freest people on earth, but the president keeps American citizens in detention for nearly two years without even allowing them to talk to a lawyer, let alone putting them on trial. And no one in America has the freedom of the Dutch to choose how they die, should they become incurably ill.

Americans also favor "American pre-eminence" — the Hobbesian view that the United States ought to rule the world, simply because it has the military muscle to do so.

Is Singer not aware of his Princeton colleague Elaine Showalter's criticism of public intellectuals as "[remote] from the world of difficult, flawed, risky, but necessary decision-making"?

And is America overrated...or underrated?

(By the way, Singer was born on exactly the same day as George W. Bush - July 6, 1946. That's one more famous person whose birthday I share.)