Phi Beta Cons

We Are the World

Believe it or not, it’s really not surprising that a professor has got himself into trouble by emailing George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation to his college community.  Many, perhaps most, Americans do not realize how thoroughly our national identity has been reconstituted as DIVERSITY.  I don’t mean that we are more diverse as a people, which is obvious, but that our very essence, our very raison d’etre, our very identity as a nation has become diversity.  This has arisen from the multiculturalism of the Left which seeks to destroy any idea of a common culture and favors our dissolution into subcultures, but also, ironically, gains support from the universalism of the Right. 
If as the Right holds, our American ideals are universal and require no cultural underpinnings or even any historical basis, but are applicable to all humanity everywhere right now, and it is racist and condescending even to think otherwise, it can be perceived as something of an insult to act or speak in any manner whatsover as if we might actually have a specific historic culture, or even that our ideals might have had some specific historical embodiment.  Such a position can imply that other histories and cultural formations might not as readily support the ideals of liberal self-government and this must be utterly forbidden.  Yes, those from militaristic, authoritarian, oligarchic, hierarchic, mandarin, feudal, and tribal cultures are entitled by our current fictions to believe that their historical backgrounds are equally conducive to the realization of democratic idealism, because of its absolute, apodictical universality.  Likewise, since the ideals are universal, no special homage is due to America or to our American heroes for realizing them in fact. 
Thus people, whether of native or immigrant background, especially in academic settings, have learned to feel outrage at anything that even hints at some historic or cultural specificity to our ideals.
It was interesting that last night at the White House dinner in honor of Queen Elizabeth, the president’s toast consisted of rehearsing the universal ideals shared by our two countries, while the queen invoked the dark days of WWII, and her gratitude for the alliance with America forged by Churchill and Roosevelt that saved Europe from Nazi tyranny.  
The president is a fine leader in many respects, but he has so thoroughly and completely absorbed the universalist scenario that it has hampered his ability to keep the American people on board with our efforts in Iraq. 
It wasn’t always this way.  After the death of her husband, Jacqueline Kennedy spoke of how much of JFK’s intellectual formation arose from his admiration for Britain and its people and statesmen and thinkers.  No Italian or Jew or Pole would even have dreamed of taking offense at that.  Those were the days.  

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