Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Counting blessings, not foibles, this Thanksgiving
Two days hence when we gather with family and friends to give thanks for those blessings that come to mind, let one thought be that we are fortunate to share this exceptional country. Yes, despite what you might have gathered from recent public discourse, our country is exactly that.
An underpopulated, peripheral area of a world-spanning empire, we won our independence and maintained it. A fractious, experimental republic, we evolved a political system designed to transfer power among groups with widely-divergent views without coming to blows. It was an unprecedented development that has endured for almost 250 years — that four-year Civil War business excepted.
We are a restless, curious, driven country. In 70 years we grew from a small enclave clinging to the Atlantic seaboard to a continent-spanning nation; in less time, we went from an agricultural economy with a tiny manufacturing sector to an industrial powerhouse. Fifty years after that we were the largest economy on the planet. We created enormous opportunities for a lot of people and they returned the favor, inventing steamships, the telegraph, telephone, airplane and alternating current. They brought us pizza-with-everything, the personal computer, craft beer, nuclear weapons, the cell phone and the Internet. To mention only a few.
America has honed a keen sense of justice and a powerful drive to open our political system to as many citizens as possible. In less than 150 years suffrage and ability to hold office was extended to all citizens above a certain age. Access to the courts is universal. This process included fighting the most brutal and costly war in our nation’s history, so yes: we take questions of individual liberty seriously.
This brief recounting of a few of our nation’s many virtues is rare nowadays. Instead, we are force-fed the narrative of the progressive left, a bleak recitation of crimes, oppressions and violence that makes the United States a threat, not a blessing to the world. This view has been fashionable for decades in the Academy; former CU-Boulder professor Ward Churchill was only one example of a type whose poisonous self-loathing has long leaked beyond the Ivory Tower into media, politics and even religion. Witness the president’s former pastor, who repeatedly called down damnation on his country. Were Revered Wright to deliver the same sort of sermon as a citizen of Russia, China or even Venezuela, he would quickly become aware of the blessings of liberty enjoyed here, as opposed to any of those.
Patriotism? “Literally a threat to the survival of the planet,” to quote Robert Jensen, professor of journalism at the University of Texas. Thanksgiving? “An act of theft,” in the eyes of San Francisco public schools and many others throughout the country.
This groveling guilt for exaggerated wrongs isn’t balanced by pride in past accomplishments, because none are thought to compensate for our uniquely monstrous crimes. Which is nonsense. As a nation we have certainly not been saints. But we have been no worse, and usually much better, than, our contemporaries. To insist otherwise is to ignore Russia’s 300-year-long drive to the south and east; Britain’s wars in China; Belgium in Africa — and China’s ongoing assaults against the Uighurs and Tibetans. Nevertheless, the “America as Satan” meme is increasingly tainting school curriculums. If nothing is done, the history of America will become the dystopian litany of evils and wrongs Progressives already believe it is.
For proof, read the Advanced Placement U.S. history curriculum from the College Board at Princeton University. For those without heart or time to plow through its 147 pages of bureaucratic flatulence, a few numbers may suffice: “Washington” is found four times in the curriculum; twice, it’s George, twice, Booker T. The only “Franklin” is Roosevelt. The man who negotiated the treaty with France which probably gained our independence, the only American member of the Royal Society in his day, is nowhere to be found. Thomas Jefferson is mentioned once, as a “member of the colonial elite.” Lincoln doesn’t exist.
Is this the past we want? Is it more helpful to us, or to our foes? Does it bring us together, or disunite, presenting our past solely as a tale of criminals and victims? What in the world are we doing to ourselves?
This Thanksgiving, celebrate our country with family and friends. Then make a promise to get involved. Question your school board about what they’re teaching, and why. Make demands of the state Department of Education, university chancellors and any other educators you can reach. Become politically active. Write letters to newspapers. Blog. Tell your children the inspiring story of us. Raise your voice; our past is ours and it’s time to reclaim it from the academic poisoners and nihilists. Later will be too late.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.