Were our forefathers deserving of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln? Franklin Delano Roosevelt led us to victory in WW2 but many sneeringly called him, "That man in the White House." Are Americans today deserving of Barack Obama?
Were the Germans, who gave Johann Sebastian Bach to the world, deserving of a monster like Hitler? For some, the answer must be yes. Not long ago, the body of Rudolph Hess had to be dug up, burned, and his ashes scattered because his grave had become a neo-Nazi shrine. During WW2, American crews flying bombing missions over Germany, were told that if shot down, there was little chance any German would shield them. "You only chance is to find a prostitute," and were issued an escape kit with a strip of gold coins.
I visited Japan in 1956, dazzled by Japanese graciousness, culture, and industry. How could such sensitive, brilliant people produce Tojo and "The Rape of Nanking?"
The U.S.A. that I fought for in 1944-45 struggles under a cloud. Eight years of George Bush and Dick Cheney was enough to slough off decent treatment of prisoners, civilized discourse between contending ideas, a loyal opposition, and other proud traditions. He claimed to be a "war president," but cut taxes, especially for the rich, and urged civilians to forget the war and "go shopping." In WW2, civilians sacrificed and were with us all the way.
Joseph le Maistre's glib remark was a half-truth. Governments, even those of, by, and for the people will be deserved by some, not by others. The election of Barack Obama lit America up like the sun, but a dark cloud still looms.