Over the past several years, events which challenge the continued existence of the United States in its current format have occurred:
- A push has commenced to tear down the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., and, indeed, to rename the city itself. The Connecticut Democrat Party has renamed its annual dinner to remove the names of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.
- A self-consciously “hip” publication recently proclaimed that the American Revolution was a mistake.
- There are calls for legislation which, in essence, would allow almost unchecked illegal immigration on the U.S. southern border.
- The President has sent a vital international deal to the U.N. before submitting it to Congress for approval, contrary to Constitutional mandates.
- One of the most commonly used textbooks in U.S. schools is one written by an individual who is sharply critical of America.
- There is a continual push to emphasize ethnic and racial identity at the expense of a larger, shared American identity. The historian Arthur Schlessinger Jr., in his 2006 book “The Disuniting of America,” called attention to the jeopardy caused by those who advocate racial and ethnic identification over a shared American identity.
- A small, radicalized group within the U.S., including some illegal aliens, openly advocate “La Reconquista,” a transfer of several American states to Mexico.
- Justice Elena Kagan, during her confirmation hearings before the United States Senate, refused to acknowledge that Americans have “inalienable” rights.
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, in an address in Africa, stated that if she were drafting a constitution for a new nation, she would not use the American Constitution as a model.
These actions, although not necessarily centrally connected, did not occur in a vacuum. They are part of a radical concept that views the establishment of the American Republic with its guaranteed rights to citizens as a historic mistake, which should be rectified by “fundamentally changing” the nature of the United States.
There has always been a comparatively small element that has been uncomfortable with a nation based on limited government, personal rights and capitalist economics. What has changed in the past several decades is the ascension of that group to leading positions in the judiciary, the media and academia. With the 2008 election of a president who openly advocates a “fundamental change” of the American nation, this movement has become far more powerful.
The wrongs cited by these critics are events that have, for the most part, already been corrected, and are hardly unique to the American experience.
The most potent, of course, is that of racial discrimination. There can be no justification for the slavery that was once allowed in the U.S. But there is not a nation on Earth that has not permitted slavery at some point in its history. Unless one is willing to topple every government on the planet, holding America up to special criticism is frankly nonsense. True, terrible segregation existed for a century after the U.S. paid a horrendous price in a bloody Civil War as a penance for this wrong, but that wrong, too, has ended. Contrary to what racial arsonists insist, there is no official racial bias in America today. That does not preclude, of course, individuals—even individuals within government—from occasional wrongdoing. But when discovered, justice is brought to bear. No system can ever reach into every heart and remove every evil.
To achieve the goals of those who dislike the American Constitution’s emphasis on personal freedom and limited government, the destruction of the national heritage is a vital step. What better way to do that than to point out the faults of the nation’s founding fathers? By current standards, some of the actions made by those extraordinary individuals were far from perfect. But tearing down monuments to Thomas Jefferson, who authored the greatest step forward in human freedom, is nonsense. Removing the name of George Washington from the capital city, after his heroic leadership, including turning down a crown because of his belief in freedom and the rights of citizens, is equally absurd.
Of course, renaming or removing monuments, dinners, or even cities isn’t sufficient for those who seek to “fundamentally change” the American character. That requires the elimination of the national heritage itself. That is the reasons those who don’t favor the American experience favor replacing the teaching of an objective view of U.S. history with one that emphasizes past wrongs and a multicultural approach.
As noted in a Commentary magazine review of Schlesinger’s “Disuniting” book:
“Our unique admixture of peoples has prompted both native-born and foreign observers to ask: what can hold so variegated a nation together? From the 18th to the 20th century the answer has remained constant: the “American Creed.” As Gunnar Myrdal wrote in 1944, Americans hold in common “the most explicitly expressed system of general ideals” of any country in the West: the ideals of equality and the inalienable rights to freedom, justice, and opportunity. It is adherence to those ideals, not one’s race, original nationality, or ethnicity, that makes one an American.”
Those shared ideals, brilliantly expressed in the Bill of Rights, are a tremendous roadblock to those who believe that government, not the citizenry, is the font of all wisdom and therefore should retain all the power.
There are, once the slogans and symbols are removed, only two true schools of thought on governance: those who believe in personal freedom, and those that believe that individuals are only entitled to what a powerful government deigns to allow. The American Constitution is the most thorough and successful version of the personal freedom side. On the other, whether the central authority is an absolute monarch, a fascist regime, a dictatorship, or a socialist/Communist central government, it’s all about absolute power in the hands of a few.
The existence of a strong, free nation that governs through a Constitution based on individual liberty remains an affront to those who believe in strong central governments. Ignoring that Constitution by replacing Congressional prerogatives with U.N. approvals, and encouraging other steps to diminish or weaken American strength is a key goal of those opposed to the American experience.