Folks, I'm glad you like reading the blog, and find my posts worth closely scrutinizing -- but there really is no need to overread between the lines. A commenter on an earlier post writes:
What's with the literary quotes today? Employing the maxims of implicature, we can infer that Eugene is trying to convey some relevant message. The analogy seems to be that we Americans are too unwilling to defend ourselves today.
So, Professor: is the mssage "we should be cheering the latest illegal NSA program" or "we should invade Iran"?
The commenter, I'm afraid, is inferring what I am not implying. I started reading Rebecca West's chapter because I liked the "It was good to take up one's courage again" quote that someone had posted on another blog months ago; and it did seem linked to the posts about courage, which were in turn triggered by the Ayaan Hirsi Ali story. I blogged the first set of quotes because of the link to courage. I blogged the second quote because I ran across it in the same reading session, because it struck me as eloquent and moving, and because I am pretty interested in history. I had hoped that my readers would be moved by it as I was -- always a good reason, I think, to pass along quotes.
But if you absolutely must try to infer some deeper message -- and, I stress again, I'm flattered that you'd want to, but I don't see why you should -- consider the possibility that, contrary to the (often accurate) stereotype of Americans, not all of my messages are about Americans.
Perhaps the West quote is apt about certain aspects of European society today; we've all heard things said that suggest it might be. Or perhaps not. If you as a reader find that resonance, great. If not, you might just find the quote moving as a commentary on a trait that sometimes arises in human nature, for instance in the era or eras about which West was writing.