Americans are funny people. Yeah, okay, I’m including myself. I think I fit in that just by virtue of my mother saying when I was about fourteen “I’m very worried about her. She takes ideas too seriously.”
America too takes ideas too seriously. Part of it is that we are a nation of ideas. We exist on no other foundation than the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. There are no ties of blood between the lot of us – well, some, but no more than between most humans – and there certainly are no ties to the land, even if some of us have some percentage of blood that goes back very far on this continent. (And some just have high cheekbones.)
But we do have the Constitution and the Declaration of independence, so we’re all kin through those ideas. To an extent that makes us unique. To another extent that makes us uniquely vulnerable.
Sometime before the election, my friend Stephen Green pointed out that the French have had – in the last 250 years – a divine-right monarchy, an empire, a republic, an occupied republic, and now a republic again. They’ve been socialist, more socialist, another color of– Okay, never mind. But through it all they have remained French. Their national integrity and identity is not shaken and is not moved. Because being French is being linked to other Frenchmen by greater ties of blood than to anyone else around. Being French is being tied to the land area of France. If you ask “what is France” people will point to the region on the map. (And before all the would-be amateur historians come in and point out what we call France is a collection of what used to be rather independent tribal identities and that some of it still persists – yes, yes, I KNOW. I studied all this when I studied French literature. But those tribal identities still had come communality and were still tied to the land that became part of France.) The real threat for this type of nation is immigration (which France has faced with the Portuguese and now from Arab countries. All things considered Portuguese was less of a threat. After all most of them were from the Northern regions, which were freed from the Moors by French crusaders – and given how most French crusaders behaved — they were at the most somewhat distant cousins. Not that the French see it that way.)
Yes, I do realize that if you ask anyone what is America, they’ll point to the map. But that’s neither strictly true nor… Okay, that’s confusing the kettle with the tea. America possesses a land mass (which has changed over time, usually to expand) but it is not a land mass. The people who inhabit this land are not Americans because they happened to be born here – yes, I know, but yet the law can be an ass – they are Americans because they were born to the equality under the law, the right of speech, assembly and representation granted to Americans. Change the system and America stops being America. An American monarchy means in effect the end of the grand experiment. It means that government by the people for the people has perished from this world.
A communist America would be no better, because communism, for all its loud clamoring of being a system for and by the people, is in fact an oligarchy of clerics – government by “intellectuals” imposing an idea that ignores human nature. Even where it’s brought in by free and open election (I have a vague idea this happened somewhere, but d*mned if I can remember where. It is sometimes brought in by rigged election, but that’s a talk for another day) it can only persist by rigged election and force, because people aren’t that stupid and know starvation when they experience it.
Also, communism does not grant equality under the law. It grants (in theory, okay? I know that always, some animals are more equal than others) equality of results. (This was the same promise of the French revolution, and ultimately the reason the streets ran with blood. The way communism stops the perpetual killing is by having bureaucrats the arbiters of what is “equal” and not letting the common man have a say. This ultimately means that the bureaucrats have to be compensated by their extraordinary effort and… yeah. Some animals are more equal than others.)
So a communist America would also not be America. Oh, we’d still have the same land mass, and the same population, but the ideas that created this country would be dead except in the hearts of a few of us.
This is why Americans get so upset at things like the top-down imposition of government health care mandates. The leftists who whine “But France has a pony, why can’t I have a pony?” besides looking at the fact we’ve been protecting France’s *ss for more than fifty years, allowing it to spend its money on candy and ponies, should take a good look at our founding documents. It’s impossible to apply “universal health care for free” without a) enslaving doctors, who will be conscripted to work at a fee they do not choose, at someone else’s command. That violates their liberty, not to mention their pursuit of happiness. b) violating people’s conscience and religious rights as we’re seeing with Catholic institutions being forced to pay for procedures they consider a sin (and do not – DO NOT – tell me single payer solves that. My taxes would still go to pay for things I consider sins.) c) making the individual subject to the state and to the utility the state ascribes to the individual. I.e. the state can decide keeping you alive costs too much money given your marginal utility. Which violates your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
So, in effect, a law that might just be a bad idea – and OMG, it is! – in other countries, in the United States violates the very essence of what it means to be an American. Which is why we get so upset.
This is also why other countries tend to get all confused about “American patriotism.” You see, they’ve been taught – I KNOW, I grew up there – that any form of nationalism is suspect and it leads to wars. In a way they’re right, sort of. The Nationalism one experiences in Europe is a form of tribalism writ large, and it CAN lead to wars, usually when the country is afflicted with a highly dysfunctional government that can’t provide for its people, and therefore decides to steal from the next country. It is easy to excite national hatreds when a nationality is tribal.
American patriotism is of a different order. It is awareness that we are a thing quite new, a nation of ideas, a strange animal upon the Earth. We’re patriotic because we believe in our founding document. We’re not particularly interested in making sure everyone else believes in our founding document, because how hard would it be to process half of the world population through the INS? People would become grandmothers in line.
We do intervene abroad, yes. I knew you’d bring that up.
You see, the US while a different bird, still lives in the flock of nations. (And if you pronounce that without an l and put a cluster before it, you have the right idea.) One way Americans born and raised tend to fail at getting international politics is that they don’t realize how unique America is.
I remember the poor dumb duckling going to Iraq to serve as a human shield for Saddam’s targets telling an equally credulous reporter that of course we shouldn’t be attacking Iraq, because a country that couldn’t provide clean water for its people could have no weapons. (Syria. The weapons of mass destruction went to Syria. So all the leftists trying to do good work by telling us poor gobsmacked idiots that there were no WMDs will be deleted unread. Contrary to leftist myth we didn’t drop on the benighted country like a thief in the night. We went to the UN and we gave them THREE MONTHS to move weapons elsewhere. That was a piece of idiocy. If we were going in at all we should have dropped in like Sudden Death. Y’all would whine, but you whined anyway.)
It never occurred to this pampered child of Western Civilization that nations might have weapons as a higher priority than the health and well being of its citizens.
In that sense, Americans often fail to “get” what other nations are doing. They don’t get the “machismo” of nations based on tribal pride, who will go to war not in the interests of peace or freedom but in THEIR OWN INTERESTS and sometimes just to prove their d*cks are bigger than the next countries’. Americans don’t do that, and Americans tend not to understand that other nations THINK we do that (which is obvious from any British reporting on American soldiers in the two World Wars.) And the rest of the world tends to be utterly baffled by when and how we choose to intervene.
Frankly, I’m a little baffled, too, at times, because one wing of our country – the “pacifist” left – seems to think it’s okay to go to war provided we don’t get anything by it, or even provided it hurts us and our stand in the world. This is because…
This is because we are a country divided against ourselves.
I’d like to say it started with agit prop by the USSR, and to an extent that’s true. At least the systematic indoctrination and the slanting of media and entertainment to promote the idea that the US is uniquely bad and therefore should be punished DID start with agit prop by the USSR who realized the only way to take us was with a fifth column, from within.
But the truth is that this agit-prop worked because it linked in to a… ah… flagellant tendency in the American character. Like ancient Israel – and I think because we too are a nation of belief – we tend to always have some number of people ready to blame anything that’s less than perfect on us not “cleaving perfectly” to our ideals. There’s some number of lamenting Janes (particularly the males) always ready to beat their chests and start with the mea culpas.
These are the brilliant people who decided that, because the US institutionalized mentally ill people, and the USSR imprisoned political dissidents in mental hospitals, people in mental hospitals in the US MUST be “political dissidents” against the “capitalist system” which was what was making them act oddly. These are the brilliant people who equate the Japanese internment during WWII (under, of course, Strong Man FDR, but never mind) with Hitler’s death camps.
The problem is that the agit prop of the USSR filtered into our education system and inflamed these flagellants, who then took over all our education, our media and our entertainment.
I’m not saying the US never did anything wrong. Duh. We are a nation composed of humans, not angels descended from above. (The beauty of our system is that it works, more or less, with real people, not requiring angels. Communism on the other hand…) We’ve made mistakes, sometimes grievous ones.
It is all right for our young people to be taught that. That’s how you learn. What is not all right – not acceptable in fact – is for them not to be taught that other nations have also committed errors and often outright crimes. What is not all right is for them not to learn that under other forms of government (pretty much ALL of them) things are far, far worse.
What is not all right, is for them not to learn that if they disagree with our form of government, and if they want socialism, they have most of the Earth to go to, where those forms of government are IN FACT practiced. It is not all right not to teach our children about the ideas in our founding documents, and not to tell them that if they want to live by those ideas, then they have the right to fight to keep them alive in this land, with these people.
Because if we lose them here, they’re gone everywhere. And though there might still be some humans called “Americans” – the real America, the one that separated from England in order to live under the Constitution, will be gone. Forever. Or at least, until a lot of people are willing to give up their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honors to bring them back.
What is not right is not to tell our children that people who despise our Constitution and who want to grant people equality of results under the law should not be elected to positions of power. It’s not that we think they’re bad people. It’s because, regardless of where they were born, they are, essentially foreigners.
By hating the ideas that created America, they hate America and they hate all of us who want to live by those ideas. By hating the ideas that created America and wanting to substitute their own, they want – in essence – to destroy that on which America is built.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. And a house with a head of the family who despises it is not long for this world.
Teach your children well and dig in deep. This is our last redoubt and it always was. If we lose this we lose all.
We are a people of ideas and we must fight for those ideas.