Every now and then, I share a post from a friend of mine, who I’ll just call JT, because he never wants recognition for anything even though basically everything he writes is brilliant.
Still working on convincing him to write a book.
Anyway, Daisy and I are on vacation this week, but it’s the anniversary of our nation’s independence, and JT wrote an exceptionally awesome post about the state of America, and while it’s sobering, JT isn’t one to leave you hanging without a light at the end of the tunnel.
These are 100% his words, I take no credit for them whatsoever, but they need to be shared.
The American cause is at an ebb. We begin the two hundred forty-fourth year of our independence tomorrow with substantive numbers of our citizenry believing of the country what a Calvinist believes of man: conceived in sin, and deserving only damnation.
The propositions that America is a cause for apology, that it was from the start a fatally flawed project, and that it is primarily a source of wrong and regret, are all commonplace now. The history of the great republic is suddenly a source of shame. Its purpose is abruptly an occasion for repentance. American corporations that eagerly supplicate themselves before the Communist Party of China refuse, putatively on moral grounds, to promote American symbology — or to cooperate with American law enforcement. Small towns tear down statues of great monsters of American history like William McKinley. Ordinary people born with the privilege of being African-American assert that America is not really for them. Adoptive parents blessed with the opportunity to bring Asian children to a welcoming United States spit venom at the proposition of American goodness. Americans of Mexican descent fortunate enough to have been born citizens of the United States — instead of violent, dysfunctional Mexico — nurture resentment at the American inheritance. The Congress of the United States holds hearings on whether Americans owe recompense for an inherited guilt. Several major Presidential candidates agree that we do. A major Presidential candidate declares that America owes reparation for failure to recognize an apery of marriage that became popular approximately fifteen minutes ago. Think-pieces in major American publications muse on whether American liberties — speech, religion, association, arms — are not fit to be ended. Well-paid athletes seize the opportunity to refuse respect to American symbols, flag and anthem alike. And on and on and on and on.
Behind it all, a cohort of ideologues for whom enmity to the United States is an end in itself. They pervade the major cultural and formative institutions — entertainment, education, media, government — and this is why they succeed. If patriotism is civic friendship, then these are our enemies. They ascend.
A nation requires a narrative, and in America’s case, the requisite narrative for two centuries just happened to be both positive and true. The republic was in fact — not in myth — “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” In the seventy-sixth year of American independence, a man born a slave and therefore subjected to the most grotesque injustice in American history had this to say of the republic that had sustained his own bondage: “Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation, which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. ‘The arm of the Lord is not shortened,’ and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope … [D]rawing encouragement from the Declaration of Independence, the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions.”
For Frederick Douglass, the remedy for America was America. This had the virtue of being entirely true. What was true is now passé. What great fortune we are now blessed with much wiser men than him. In the place of a Douglass, or a Lincoln, with their misguided faith in America and Americans, we have moral titans like Kaepernick, Rapinoe, Buttigieg, Castro, and all the rest.
They will do their best to break our country. Here though is their weakness: they require your consent. Refuse it.
The truth about America is not what they peddle. The truth about America is in a Vietnamese refugee on the high seas, in a crowded and rickety boat, sometime around 1980, who has the good fortune to come across the USS Midway. The great ship sends out a party to take the refugees aboard, and the first American sailor is greeted by this refugee. He has been through tyranny and hell, but now he is smiling.
“Hello, American sailor!” he says. “Hello, freedom man!”
I mean, if you don’t feel something when you read that, I don’t even KNOW.
But like he said, the only way our country breaks is if we allow it.
DO NOT CONSENT.
And happy Independence Day to all of you!