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纽约时报双语:美国人思想的堕落

美国人思想的堕落
The Shrinking of the American Mind
罗杰·科恩
2020年10月26日
纽约时报双语:美国人思想的堕落

Among the words or phrases that were never spoken in the two presidential debates were:

在两场总统竞选辩论中从未提及的词包括:

Syria, human rights, drones, democracy, inequality, dictatorship, Israel, Palestine, Middle East, United Nations, World Health Organization, Guantánamo, European Union, Britain, Brexit, France, Italy, Hong Kong, Africa (or any single African state), South America, terrorism, multilateral, authoritarianism, alliance.

叙利亚、人权、无人机、民主、不平等、独裁、以色列、巴勒斯坦、中东、联合国、世界卫生组织、关塔那摩、欧盟、英国、英国脱欧、法国、意大利、香港、非洲(或任何一个非洲国家)、南美、恐怖主义、多边主义、威权主义、联盟。

That’s a pretty good measure of the shrinking of the American mind.

这很好地反映了美国人思想的收缩。

President Trump never mentioned Afghanistan, where the United States lost more than 2,400 lives and spent some $2 trillion over the past two decades. Joe Biden did, once.

特朗普总统从未提及阿富汗,过去20年里,美国在那里损失了2400多人的生命,花费了大约2万亿美元。乔·拜登(Joe Biden)提起过,一次。

One of the characteristics of a nightmare is that it is all-consuming. Everything beyond it fades into the murk. President Trump, in an extraordinary sustained broadcast of his self-obsession, has managed to corral the world into the shadow of an orange colossus.

噩梦的特征之一是它会吞噬一切,在它之外,任何东西都会消失在黑暗中。特朗普总统在一场非同寻常的长时间电视直播中展现了他的自恋,成功把世界拉进一个橙色巨人的阴影之中。

Yes, Trump was more civil in the second debate, and Biden, ahead in the polls, did himself no harm. Still, it was an affair of stunning mediocrity and myopia.

是的,在第二场辩论中,特朗普更文明了,在民调中领先的拜登也没说什么对自己有害的话。不过,这是一场极为平庸和短视的辩论。

Let’s just posit for a moment that the rise of China, the assertiveness of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the resurgence of dictatorships, the fragility of democracies, the challenges of population growth in Africa, the pandemic’s exposure of a global leadership vacuum, rising inequality in Western societies, the frozen inadequacy of the United Nations, social fracture, the spread of the surveillance state, and the hate-multiplying impact of social media platforms may be pivotal issues of the coming decade.

我们姑且假设,中国的崛起、普京治下俄罗斯的强硬、独裁的复兴、民主国家的脆弱、非洲人口增长带来的挑战、大流行暴露的全球领导力真空、西方社会不平等现象加剧、联合国的凝聚力不足、社会断层、监视国家的蔓延、社交媒体平台的仇恨倍增效应,这一切可能是未来十年的关键问题。

What did we hear on these themes? Essentially nothing.

关于这些主题我们听到了什么?基本上什么都没有。

TV commentators went through their thing, opining on the significance of Biden looking at his watch, the importance (or not) of gazing directly into the camera, the punch Trump landed (or not) on Hunter Biden. I did not hear any laments on all that Trump’s America, in its America-first inward turn, has relegated to oblivion.

电视评论员们纷纷发表见解,评论拜登看表的重要性、直视镜头有多么重要(或者有多么不重要)、特朗普对亨特·拜登(Hunter Biden)的打击命中要害(或者根本没有)。我没有听到任何人哀叹,特朗普实施“美国优先”内转政策的美国已被遗忘。

Oh, yes, Syria, where some 80 percent of the survivors of a civil war that left more than 400,000 people dead now live in poverty and 40 percent of people are unemployed. Oh, yes, Hong Kong, and Belarus, where brave protesters have been battling for democracy in struggles that would once have engaged the American imagination. Oh, yes, the Middle East, where so much American treasure and such sustained American diplomacy have been deployed in the pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian peace, and so many American and Iraqi lives were lost not so long ago in Iraq.

哦,对哦,叙利亚,那里的内战造成40多万人死亡,80%的内战幸存者目前生活在贫困中,40%的人失业。哦,对哦,香港和白俄罗斯,那里勇敢的抗议者们一直在为民主而战,美国人曾对这种斗争充满兴趣。哦,对哦,中东,为了追求巴以和平,美国曾经投入那么多的财富和那么久的外交努力,而就在不久前,在伊拉克,有那么多的美国人和伊拉克人失去了生命。

Gone, baby, gone.

别了,宝贝,别了。

The shrinking of the American mind involves a kind of numbness. It has become difficult to think or see beyond the noise emanating from the White House. Indignation fatigue has set in. There he goes again. That plaintive whining voice. Without respect for truth, without respect for science, what debate can there be?

美国人的思想收缩中包含着一种麻木。除了白宫发出的噪音外,很难去思考或看到其他东西。愤怒的疲劳开始出现。他又来了。那个哀怨的声音。没有对真理的尊重,没有对科学的尊重,还有什么辩论可言?

In the end the debates amounted to a portrait of the growing irrelevance to the rest of the world of an insular United States. Two men in their 70s showed an almost complete disregard for the I-want-to-help-change-the-world idealism of Generation Z. This was close to insulting. The exchanges were, on the whole, petty, petulant and predictable.

最终,辩论中呈现的是一个孤立的美国,对世界其他地区来说,它变得越来越无关紧要。两个70多岁的男人几乎完全无视Z世代“我想参与改变世界”的理想主义。这近乎一种侮辱。总的来说,他们的交锋是琐碎的、轻率的、可预见的。

In them, I saw the reflection of an American society in which constructive debate is near impossible. Trump has governed through fomenting division and violence. He has almost never risen to themes of reconciliation or outreach. As a result, American debate is reduced to rival tribes shrieking contempt for each other. These tribes forget that nobody ever had their mind changed by being made to feel stupid.

在这些交锋之中,我看到了美国社会的写照,在这个社会中,建设性的辩论几乎是不可能的。特朗普通过煽动分裂和暴力进行统治。他几乎从未提及到和解或向外扩展的主题。结果,美国人的辩论沦为敌对部落的互相叫嚣和彼此蔑视。这些部落忘记了,没有人会因为被羞辱而改变自己的看法。

It’s worth examining some of the debates’ vanished words for a moment. The protection of human rights must always be a crucial American mission. Democracy is still the best defense of human dignity and freedom. Inequality continues to grow, eating away at the social fabric of societies, compounding injustice, a word mentioned once by Biden in the first debate. Guantánamo remains a stain on America’s conscience. Young men and women in the American military are out in dangerous far-flung places fighting terrorism.

有必要研究一下辩论中消失的一些词语。保护人权必须永远是美国的一项重要使命。民主仍然是捍卫人类尊严和自由的最佳手段。不平等持续增长,侵蚀着社会结构,加剧了不公正——拜登在第一场辩论中曾经提到过这个词。关塔那摩仍然是美国良心上的污点。美国军队的年轻男女正在危险的远方与恐怖主义作斗争。

The United Nations, the World Health Organization and the European Union are examples of multilateral organizations Trump’s United States has flouted to its cost. Britain and France are nuclear powers that are critical partners in an alliance (NATO) that has brought peace and stability to Europe. Africa, famously home to “shithole” countries for Trump, is where roughly two-thirds of population growth will occur between 2020 and 2050; its fate is also humanity’s.

特朗普领导下的美国藐视多边组织,并为此付出了代价,联合国、世界卫生组织和欧盟都是例子。英国和法国都是核大国,是为欧洲带来和平与稳定的联盟北约的重要伙伴。非洲是特朗普所谓的“粪坑”国家的著名所在地,从2020年至2050年期间,大约三分之二的人口增长将发生在非洲;它的命运关系到全人类的命运。

Speaking of the future, America, as it approaches its 250th anniversary this decade, is still a young country. It is not yet preposterous to believe that its best days lie ahead. It is still a land of striving, space, churn and reinvention where what binds people is greater than what separates them, if only a leader would seek to heal rather than hate.

说到未来,即将在这个十年里迎来建国250周年的美国仍然是一个年轻的国家。如果你觉得美国最好的日子还在前面,这并不荒谬。这里仍然是一块充满奋斗、空间、变革和再创造的土地,在这块土地上,团结人们的力量大于分裂人们的力量,只要领导人寻求的是治愈而不是仇恨。

The essence of America is openness. History, geography, immigration and fate have established that. The shrinking of the American mind under Trump therefore amounts, for Americans, to a dangerous denial of themselves. Prolonged for another four years, in a second Trump term, it would negate the American idea, without which, at least for this immigrant, the United States, as conceived, with all its flaws, ceases to be.

美国的精髓在于开放。它的历史、地理、移民和命运决定了这一点。因此,对美国人来说,在特朗普的领导下,美国人思想收缩相当于危险的自我否定。如果特朗普的任期再延长四年,它将否定美国的理念,没有这些理念,至少是关于移民的理念,建国时所构想的美国,乃至它所有的缺陷,也就不复存在。

Perhaps, in the end, the greatest usefulness of the debates was as a vivid illustration of just how far we have fallen.

也许,到头来,这些辩论最大的用处是,它生动地说明了我们已经堕落到什么程度。

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