What happened to humility in America? In the past few days, we’ve seen Joe Wilson interrupt a presidential speech, Kanye West steal Taylor Swift’s microphone to voice his opinion, and Michael Jordan offer up an “egomaniacal” Hall of Fame speech, writes David Brooks in the New York Times. “Today, immodesty is as ubiquitous as advertising, and for the same reasons.” But it wasn’t always this way.
Brooks looks back on VJ day: The overarching feeling was one of “humility,” as Bing Crosby put it. But as the years went by, “self-effacement became identified with conformity and self-repression,” leading us quickly down the path of “self-exposure and self-love.” But on that eve of victory, “It’s funny how the nation’s mood was at its most humble when its actual achievements were at their most extraordinary,” Brooks writes.