Airshows have been an American tradition since we pioneered powered flight in 1903; the experience is peak Americana and says a great deal about the American cultural identity.
Powered flight is perhaps the greatest of all American inventions, linking people around the country and world in a way that had never before been possible. Flight broke the most significant natural constraint to the human experience – gravity – and has fully changed the way we think about time, space, and our universe. Watching mankind slip the bounds of our earthly chains and take to the skies seemed like a form of magic to the uninitiated, and still does to people across the world who encounter aviation for the first time. The most spectacular feats of aviation come during airshows, those festival-like occasions wherein pilots in specialized planes conduct awe-inspiring aerobatic routines, joined oftentimes by beautifully-restored historical military aircraft. And just like aviation in general, nowhere has the airshow been more deeply embraced than in the United States.
The trial balloon of banning gas stoves is just another example of the progressive quest to eliminate risk from American society.
The political world has been in an uproar over the past week on account of a somewhat random topic: gas stoves. This whole news cycle revolved around the idea – mooted by Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. – of banning gas stoves due to their alleged harmful impact on health and indoor air quality. (I say alleged because the studies being cited are not at all solid.) Trumka, son of the famed union boss of the same name, stated regarding gas ranges that “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.” Progressives rushed to the proposal’s defense, claiming that these newly-studied health risks are only part of the problem – gas stoves are also terrible for climate change. Several cities, including New York, have banned gas hookups in new buildings entirely, stopping the promulgation not only of gas-powered stoves, but also of gas heating and water boiling.
But more than anything it says about the media, progressive talking points, or the decline of scientific rigor, this whole gas stove brouhaha captures a major aspect of modern progressivism that is inherently un-American: the urge to guarantee “safety.”
Thanksgiving is the best example of the confluence between America’s pioneering spirit and our national penchant for thankfulness.
Thanksgiving is perhaps the quintessential American holiday; we have feasting, we have football, we have family and friends, and we have gratitude. The last line item on that list may seem odd to associate with ‘Americanness’ as much as the others, but it fits in just fine. In fact, it is deeply embedded in American history, dating back to the colonial era, before the founding of the United States. The strong focus on thankfulness – to the point of dedicating a whole holiday to it – is peculiarly American, but can feel at odds with the classic stereotype of Americans as self-absorbed and entitled. In this case, the stereotype is dead wrong; gratitude is an American tradition that dovetails perfectly with our historic national culture of self-reliance, risk-seeking, and innovation.