Should We Repudiate America’s Past or Its Present?

Should We Repudiate America’s Past or Its Present? July 16, 2020


There is now some push-back against the angst-ridden repudiation of America’s history and culture on the part of Americans themselves.

My son-in-law sent me a link to this article by a British immigrant to the USA, which first appeared in the Wall Street Journal but which was reprinted in an Australian newspaper:

From Gerard Baker, Defend America’s History—and Retake Its Institutions [subscription required]:

At the end of the 20th century, the U.S. had won World War II and the Cold War, liberated half the planet from history’s most dehumanizing ideologies, advanced a free-market capitalism that had led more humans out of poverty than any economic system ever devised, and given the world the richest bounty of intellectual, cultural and scientific capital since the Enlightenment. Americans could—and did—look at themselves and the nation they had built with immense pride.

Twenty years later much of the country’s political leadership, almost its entire academic establishment, most of the people who control its news and cultural output, and a good deal of its corporate elite view America as an irredeemably malignant force for enslavement and oppression, a uniquely evil power founded on an ideology of racial supremacy. These Jacobins demand that Americans repudiate most of the nation’s history, tear down the icons of its creation, and engage in a cultural expurgation of its sins.

There are, indeed, reasons for this reversal in America’s self-image.  “The rot in America’s cultural institutions was spread for more than half a century by a self-loathing cultural establishment,” says Baker. “Now it has matured amid a public malaise induced by 20 years of elite-driven political and economic failure that has undermined faith in the system that made America great.”

Baker goes on to blame our educational establishment, the failures of our political leadership, and the corruption of American capitalism.  “The modern woke corporation publicly disdains and derides the values on which the nation—and its profits—were built, even as it pursues global opportunities at the expense of American communities.”  He concludes:

This country hasn’t passed from great to evil in two decades. America hasn’t failed. But Americans have been failed—misled by inept and deceitful political leaders, deserted by predatory and mercenary corporate chiefs, and, above all, betrayed by a parasitic cultural elite that exploited American freedom to trash the country. It isn’t America’s history that needs to be repudiated. It’s its present.

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It’s interesting that both this defense of America and its attackers are highly critical of big corporations!

America is exceptional both in its achievements and in its capacity for self-criticism.  Perhaps it’s because our ideals are so high that the reality never fully measures up.  Even this defense of America is in the form of a critique of our educational, political, and economic establishments.

HT:  Adam


Image by Alexey Hulsov from Pixabay 

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