H.L. Mencken. The American Credo

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H.L. Mencken, G. J. Nathan, The American Credo

 

The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 105-7 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:21 PM

To the Italian the country is a sort of savage wilderness in which everything else, from religion to beauty and from decent repose to human life, is sacrificed to profit. Italians cross the ocean in much the same spirit that our runaway school-boys used to go off to fight the Indians.

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 116-18 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:22 PM

 

The fact is that it is he, and not the native American, who is the incorrigible and unimaginative money-grubber. He comes to the United States in search of money, and in search of money alone, and pursuing that single purpose without deviation he makes the mistake of assuming that the American is at the same business, and in the same fanatical manner.

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 181-83 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:26 PM

 

That is to say, his dominant passion is a passion to lift himself by at least a step or two in the society that he is a part of—a passion to improve his position, to break down some shadowy barrier of caste, to achieve the countenance of what, for all his talk of equality, he recognizes and accepts as his betters. The American is a pusher.

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 189-92 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:28 PM

 

Such a thing as a secure position is practically unknown among us. There is no American who cannot hope to lift himself another notch or two, if he is good; there is absolutely no hard and fast impediment to his progress. But neither is there any American who doesn’t have to keep on fighting for whatever position he has;

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 211-13 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:32 PM

 

It is this constant possibility of rising, this constant risk of falling, that gives a barbaric picturesqueness to the panorama of what is called fashionable society in America. The chief character of that society is to be found in its shameless self-assertion, its almost obscene display of its importance and of the shadowy privileges and acceptances on which that importance is based.

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 221-23 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:35 PM

 

In the American cities the fashionable man or woman must not only maintain the decorum seen among civilized folks everywhere; he or she must also be interested in precisely the right sports, theatrical shows and opera singers, show the right political credulities and indignations, and have some sort of connection with the right church.

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 239-41 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:37 PM

 

This social aspiration, of course, is most vividly violent and idiotic on its higher and more gaudy levels, but it is scarcely less earnest below. Every American, however obscure, has formulated within his secret recesses some concept of advancement, however meagre; if he doesn’t aspire to be what is called fashionable, then he at least aspires to lift himself in some less gorgeous way.

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 277-81 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:40 PM

 

When the American is most dashingly assertive it is a sure sign that he feels the pack behind him, and hears its comforting baying, and is well aware that his doctrine is approved. He is not a joiner for nothing. He joins something, whether it be a political party, a church, a fraternal order or one of the idiotic movements that incessantly ravage the land, because joining gives him a feeling of security, because it makes him a part of something larger and safer than he is himself, because it gives him a chance to work off steam without running any risk.

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 318-21 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:43 PM

 

There is not a village in America in which some such preposterous jackass is not in eruption. Worse, he is commonly the leader of its opinion—its pattern in reason, morals and good taste. Yet worse, he is ruler as well as pattern. Wrapped in his sacerdotal cloak, he stands above any effective criticism. To question his imbecile ideas is to stand in contumacy of the revelation of God.

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Bookmark Loc. 363 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:45 PM

 

 

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 363-64 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:46 PM

 

a great moral passion is fatal to the gentler and more caressing amenities of life, and vice versa. The man of morals has a certain character, and the man of honour has a quite different character. No one not an idiot fails to differentiate between the two,

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 388-90 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:47 PM

 

The man of morals keeps order in the world, regimenting its lawless hordes and organizing its governments; the man of honour mellows and embellishes what is thus achieved, giving to duty the aspect of a privilege and making human intercourse a thing of fine faiths and understandings.

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 608-11 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:57 PM

 

The mob-man cannot imagine himself throwing up his job and deserting his home, his lodge and his speakeasy to carry a new gospel to his fellows, and so he is inclined to examine the motives of any other man who does so. The one motive that is intelligible to him is the desire for profit, and he commonly concludes at once that this is what moves the propagandist before him. His reasoning is defective, but his conclusion is usually not far from wrong. In point of fact, idealism is not a passion in America, but a trade;

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Bookmark Loc. 650 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 03:58 PM

 

 

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 658-60 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 11:15 PM

 

Lynching is popular in the South simply because the Southern populace, like any other populace, delights in thrilling shows, and because no other sort of show is provided by the backward culture of the region.

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 688-91 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 11:17 PM

 

The true lynchers are the plain people, and at the bottom of the sport there is nothing more noble than the mob man’s chronic and ineradicable poltroonery. Cruel by nature, delighting in sanguinary spectacles, and here brought to hatred of the negro by the latter’s increasing industrial, (not political, capitalistic or social) rivalry, he naturally diverts himself in his moments of musing with visions of what he would do to this or that Moor if he had the courage.

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The American Credo (G.J. Nathan and H.L. Mencken)

– Highlight Loc. 714-16 | Added on Sunday, April 04, 2010, 11:19 PM

 

The dominating opinion of the South is thus against most of the devices that would diminish lynching by providing substitutes for it. In every Southern town some noisy clown of a Methodist or Presbyterian clergyman exercises a local tyranny. These men are firmly against all the divertissements of more cultured regions.

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