Patriotism Essay 2010

Patriotism Essay 2010-46
The 1619 Project makes the case, among other things, that racial hierarchy is inimical to true freedom.

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Nikole Hannah-Jones, 1619’s organizer and editor, makes this point very clearly in her powerful introductory essay. It is we who have been the perfecters of this democracy”—by moving America towards the fulfillment of the ideals professed in the Declaration of Independence.

She cites her own family history as a testament to the promise of American democracy: her father, born in the county in Mississippi with the highest number of lynchings in the country, went on to serve in the U. Army and proudly flew the American flag in front of the Iowa home of her youth. Her essay is one of the most fiercely patriotic pieces of writing I have ever read. Hers is a patriotism not of hagiography but of struggle, born of an honest reckoning with a usually brutal American past.

Many conservative critics have completely missed the point, even when it seems they are just on the cusp of getting it.

John Daniel Davidson, writing in , for example, complained that while she “argues persuasively that African Americans are the true believers in America’s Founding ideals”—note the capitalization of “Founding,” which suggests a religious dimension to the term—“but also that they are dupes because the ideals are a lie.” It is difficult to imagine a more tortured accusation.

In the mid-1960s Harry Jaffa and Frank Meyer engaged in a series of dueling essays in on this question.

Meyer, a notorious racist who opposed desegregation, wrote in one of his essays that Jaffa incorrectly “chooses to base his critique of American slavery on the proposition that the American polity is in its essence dedicated to equality.” But “freedom and equality are opposites,” Meyer baldly replied, with a formula that still resonates.On its second page, the future congressman stresses the need for “awareness of the good as well as the bad aspects of colonialism,” suggesting that “the colonial powers performed a painful but positive function in disrupting traditional society” of “the natives.” The same year that Gingrich submitted his dissertation, Ronald Reagan, in a phone call to Richard Nixon, sneered at “those monkeys” representing the newly independent African countries at the United Nations, calling them “cannibals” and saying “they are still uncomfortable wearing shoes.” In his 1957 editorial defending segregation, Buckley compared the situation in the American South to the British in Kenya, who were then facing an anti-colonial uprising. Originalism—whether cashed out in terms of “original intent” or, as Antonin Scalia preferred, “original meaning”—is predicated on the belief that the Constitution ought to be read mainly through the lens of the intention of its drafters unless it has been amended by the democratic procedures the Constitution specifies.“The choice,” Buckley said, “was dramatically one between civilization and barbarism.” The third reason is that conservatives revere history as a source of incontestable authority, as opposed to a storehouse of fallible human experience, susceptible to analysis and critique. There is the legal doctrine of originalism, a more or less uniquely American form of legal doctrine that interprets constitutional matters solely through the lens of what the adjudicator concludes the original drafters of the U. Yet Southern conservatives in the 1950s complained that the Reconstruction amendments, passed by Congress and ratified by the states in the 1860s, are invalid or otherwise unconstitutional because the Southern states at the time were subject to military occupation and black political rule.This means you will always be able to read us without roadblocks or barriers to entry.It also means that we count on you, our readers, for support.It is undeniably a lie that those ideals were ever applied to the majority of people living in the land that would become America in 1776.Hannah-Jones’s point, indeed the whole point of the 1619 Project, is that black Americans—who have been held by so many whites to be “the obstacle to national unity”—have through centuries of struggle and protest “helped the country live up to its founding ideals.” This courageous optimism of the 1619 Project is bracing: rather than look away from the inconvenient truth that the man who wrote that “all men are created equal” owned his wife’s half-siblings as slaves, even engaging in a sexual relationship with one of them, it chooses to center those historical realities even while affirming that, yes, all human beings . Wiley Online Library requires cookies for authentication and use of other site features; therefore, cookies must be enabled to browse the site.Detailed information on how Wiley uses cookies can be found in our Privacy Policy.None of these “critiques” stands up to even a cursory reading of the project.Why are so many conservatives incapable of confronting this history without perceiving it as a threat? The first is that American conservatism has a fraught relationship with equality, racial or otherwise.


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