By J. D. Pendry
We are a country of immigrants. Have you heard that? A decent political meme maybe, but is it true? Not quite. We are a nation of citizens who bought into a Constitutional Republic, the foundation of Judeo-Christian values, and the exceptional concept of individual liberty.
Many survived perilous journeys across the Atlantic only to perish during the first year of the Jamestown and Plymouth settlements of the early 1600s. These early settlers were primarily Protestant Christians. In the case of the Plymouth settlement, they were separatists fleeing to Holland to escape persecution from the Church of England. Later making their way to North America. The Pilgrims never called themselves Pilgrims. It was a name used in various writings making, in some cases, biblical references to pilgrims. The Plymouth “Pilgrims” are often confused with Puritans that settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony about 30 years later. The Puritans were theocratic and their laws quite rigid. They gave us the Salem Witch Trials.
It would be incorrect to call these early North American settlers Americans in the same sense as today. What is undeniable is that these early settlers arrived here with a strong Christian value system, the work ethic necessary to survive and eventually prosper, and the American spirit of freedom. Although a hundred years before our founding, this was the beginnings of the greatest adventure of humankind. Determined, hardworking people set the foundation for the world’s only exceptional nation.
I’d wager this is not the historical summary one likely hears today. Instead, we hear about European invaders killing Native Indians, stealing their land, and spreading disease. We hear about how awful these colonizers were. We do not hear about the indigenous often-brutal intertribal warfare that existed for centuries before the arrival of European settlers.
These were people of their time. They lived within cultural norms of their era. Throughout recorded history, cultural norms apply to all societies. Who are we? We are people of our time. Our problem is we’ve deliberately changed cultural norms to the point one can’t be sure these days if there is such a thing. We insist on group identities each with its own accepted behaviors. Some of these groups are not happy to be left alone to live their lives, that, by the way, is a historic American cultural norm. Instead, some want to force others to accept and embrace their lifestyles – impose their beliefs onto others, most certainly not a historic American cultural norm. That’s closer to fascism.
Not only have we changed the norms for our own time, but we try to apply our behavioral norms to cultures centuries past. Worse than that, certain ones of us attempt to measure the worth of our nation based on centuries old cultures of the original settlers and founders. I believe that’s born of abject ignorance of our history and a lack of understanding of human nature. Or as American Journal contributor Dee Armstrong suggested: maybe it’s old fashioned stupidity – choosing to remain ignorant. That it appears is also a new American norm.
It begs the question doesn’t it? Who are we, as a collection of supposedly logical and educated people, that we can be led down a pathway of passing judgement on centuries old culture using today’s political correctness silliness and our fundamentally transformed cultural norms? And then use that flawed judgment to measure our own self-loathing worthiness?
There are some universal truths. We cannot change the past. We cannot predict the future. We can get it right today. When will we stop applying today’s political correctness and social justice attitudes to people who lived and died in completely different eras? What is the purpose of vilification and destruction of our past? A nation without a past is a nation with an uncertain, if any, future.
There is a concerted effort, it seems, to take down America’s iconic historical figures. An effort to eradicate history or at least the portions of it that do not meet the ever-fluctuating standards of the new American normal. Can we not be satisfied with getting it right today? Or, is it more important to some that we take down the foundations of our country from our Judeo-Christian value system to our founding? When you’ve convinced generations that we are a historically bad nation then it’s an easy sale to convince them we remain a bad nation today, therefore, we must be fundamentally transformed.
We use history to ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past thus ensuring a better future. Removing, demonizing, and hiding the past divides and destroys the future. Read Truth in Sarcasm for a view of the fallacies of our time. Our heritage is our heritage. We do not have to like it. We must learn from it and not use it as a bludgeon against those we dislike.