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Uncle Sam Versus John Q. Public

April 2024
1min read

Most overrated:

Uncle Sam. I will not comment on his silly garb, but I think his ambiguous postures, expressions, mien, and actions in cartoons and on posters do not do justice to America as a body. He rolls up his sleeves, he struts, he scowls, he smiles. A metaphorical embodiment of the nation in its corporate mode should be far more extreme. When we blast away, we really blast away. On the other hand, when the nation as nation turns out to show its better face, silly Uncle Sam won’t do. I would not try to express both sides through a single anthropomorphic figure.

Most underrated:

John Q. Public. He usually comes off as bewildered, put upon, harmless. We need stronger images, including feminine ones. There’s enough belief in original sin in me not to go looking for perfection or progress in John Q. Public. But over the long pull, one has to have admiration for a citizenry that outlasts so many demagogues and follies, so many red tapings and false promises—and still persists, still hopes.

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