What is the central idea of the passage?
Colonialism in the United States
by Henry Cabot Lodge
In the years which followed the close of the war, it seemed as if colonialism had been utterly extinguished: but, unfortunately, this was not the case. The multiplication of great fortunes, the growth of a class rich by inheritance, and the improvement in methods of travel and communication, all tended to carry large numbers of Americans to Europe. The luxurious fancies which were born of increased wealth, and the intellectual tastes which were developed by the advance of the higher education, and to which an old civilization offers peculiar advantages and attractions, combined to breed in many persons a love of foreign life and foreign manners. These tendencies and opportunities have revived the dying spirit of colonialism. We see it most strongly in the leisure class, which is gradually increasing in this country. During the miserable ascendancy of the Second Empire, a band of these persons formed what was known as the "American colony," in Paris. Perhaps they still exist; if so, their existence is now less flagrant and more decent. When they were notorious they presented the melancholy spectacle of Americans admiring and aping the manners, habits, and vices of another nation, when that nation was bent and corrupted by the cheap, meretricious, and rotten system of the third Napoleon. They furnished a very offensive example of peculiarly mean colonialism. This particular phase has departed, but the same sort of Americans are, unfortunately, still common in Europe. I do not mean, of course, those persons who go abroad to buy social consideration, nor the women who trade on their beauty or their wits to gain a brief and dishonoring notoriety. These last are merely adventurers and adventuresses, who are common to all nations. The people referred to here form that large class, comprising many excellent men and women, no doubt, who pass their lives in Europe, mourning over the inferiority of their own country, and who become thoroughly denationalized. They do not change into Frenchmen or Englishmen, but are simply disfigured and deformed Americans.

We find the same wretched habit of thought in certain groups among the rich and idle people of our great eastern cities, especially in New York, because it is the metropolis. These groups are for the most part made up of young men who despise everything American and admire everything English. They talk and dress and walk and ride in certain ways, because they imagine that the English do these things after that fashion. They hold their own country in contempt, and lament the hard fate of their birth. They try to think that they form an aristocracy, and become at once ludicrous and despicable. The virtues which have made the upper classes in England what they are, and which take them into public affairs, into literature and politics, are forgotten, for Anglo-Americans imitate the vices or the follies of their models, and stop there. If all this were merely a fleeting fashion, an attack of Anglo-mania or of Gallo-mania, of which there have been instances enough everywhere, it would be of no consequence. But it is a recurrence of the old and deep-seated malady of colonialism. It is a lineal descendant of the old colonial family. The features are somewhat dim now, and the vitality is low, but there is no mistaking the hereditary traits. The people who thus despise their own land, and ape English manners, flatter themselves with being cosmopolitans, when in truth they are genuine colonists, petty and provincial to the last degree.

What is the central idea of the passage?Americans should show proper respect to all cultures, not just European cultures.
Americans should stop their indulgence in foreign goods and luxuries.
Americans should stop mimicking other cultures and be proud of their own culture.
Americans need to adopt the polite and respectful mannerisms of other cultures.
Americans should imitate other cultures to learn more about their own.

2 Answer

  • Americans should stop mimicking other cultures and be proud of their own culture.

  • The correct answer would be option B " Americans should stop mimicking other cultures and be proud of their own culture". This is due to the fact that in the excerpt, the author clearly says how Americans try to emulate other cultures and move to Europe all their life and try to hide or forget their American heritage. The author clearly is against this and that is why this is the correct answer.