Air Conditioning as “the Antithesis of Passive Resignation”

In the passage quoted below, Severgnini captures something of the truth. Americans, at their best, have sought to control nature in order to make life longer and happier.
But Severgnini does not see that there is a difference between seeking to control nature and seeking to control other people. At its best, America excels at the former, and refrains from the latter.

(p. W9) A few years ago, Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini recounted his adventures in the U.S. in the book “Ciao, America!” in which he offered up humorous musings on many of the standard European complaints about the American way of living. Mr. Severgnini allows that he rather admires the Yankee “urge to control the outside world,” whether that means sending planes off an aircraft carrier or sending out technicians from Carrier.

He notes that the refusal to suffer the sweaty indignity of equatorial heat is “the antithesis of passive resignation,” and thus a perfect expression of the can-do American character. “In America, air-conditioning is not simply a way of cooling down a room,” Mr. Severgnini writes. “It is an affirmation of supremacy.”

For the full commentary, see:
ERIC FELTEN. “DE GUSTIBUS; The Big Chill: Giving AC the Cold Shoulder.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., July 23, 2010): W9.

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