If novelists know anything it’s that individual citizens are internally plural: they have within them the full range of behavioral possibilities. They are like complex musical scores from which certain melodies can be teased out and other ignored or suppressed, depending, at least in part, on who is doing the conducting. At this moment, all over the world–and most recently in America–the conductors standing in front of this human orchestra have only the meanest and most banal melodies in mind. Here in Germany you will remember these martial songs; they are not a very distant memory. But there is no place on earth where they have not been played at one time or another. Those of us who remember, too, a finer music must try not to play it, and encourage others, if we can, to sing along.

Zadie Smith “On Optimism and Despair” in Feel Free