Peggy Noonan pines for a time that never really was


Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, a frequent target of my barbs (see HERE), is a mere 62 years old and thus wasn’t around when the photo above was taken during the Great Depression.

But that doesn’t excuse the silliness of this passage from her latest offering:

There is pervasive confusion about what the American dream is. We seem to have redefined it to mean the acquisition of material things — a car, a house and a pool. That was not the meaning of the American dream a few generations ago. The definition then was that in this wonderful place called America, where you can start out from nothing and become anything. It was aspirational. The limits of class and background wouldn’t and couldn’t keep you from becoming a person worthy of respect, even renown. If you wanted to turn that into houses and a pool, fine. But you didn’t have to. You could have a modest job like teacher and be the most respected woman in town.

When we turned the American dream into a dream about materialism, we disheartened our young, who now are forced to achieve what we’ve defined as success in a straitened economy.

 Steve M. over at NoMoreMisterNiceBlog offers THIS SNARKY RESPONSE to Noonan’s “misty watercolor memory of the way were”  and invites her to take a gander at the photo above:

So “a few generations ago” the American dream wasn’t about materialism? Peggy, please let me introduce you to the work of Margaret Bourke-White. Perhaps you’ve heard of her?



1 Comment

  1. Brian Opsahl

    My Grandfather was just a boy during the depression but the story’s he told me of how poor not only his family but the ones who lived around his family farm in South Dakota was they we’re lucky to have survived at all. So compared to how things are now….well there is NO comparison at all really.

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