really nails it, I think.
No, this is not a return to political/cultural commentary. It is a chance to test out my blockquoting capabilities (achieved by using the edit function to steal 'n paste the tags from Athos' post).
One result of that transposition, the record shows, has been the creation of a world of political scapegoats for the unease and anxiety that are the unwanted companions now of Westerners everywhere. These scapegoats, perverse non-explanations for what really ails us, can be identified by features common to the breed everywhere: The passion invested in them by their antagonists is disproportionate to any real problem the scapegoat represents; they are invoked to explain more about the world than they do; they capture some part of the truth, i.e., have a degree of verisimilitude without which a scapegoat cannot exist; and — also like scapegoats everywhere — they pose no threat of retaliation for their overburdening. They are scapegoats in the classic sense: metaphorical beasts seen not in their own right and reality, but rather as communal vessels carrying a political and psychological weight beyond themselves for reasons of communal relief.
In sum, to judge by current intellectual trends, many post-9/11 attempts to diagnose the American soul, both here and in Europe, have served less to clarify reality than to gravitate toward safer and more palatable substitutes. It is a fraught, fascinating spectacle worth exploring in detail — the more so because a parallel outpouring of books, especially from the contemporary European front, makes very clear what today's obvious displacements of political passion are really about.
Read the whole thing, as they say in the blog world.