Three Questions for the American People

March 29, 2023

Three Questions for the American People

As we flailed around trying to fend off the multiple attacks on our traditional America, we realized that those attacks have already been addressed — 26 years ago, long before the fraudulent “1619 Project” or the inanity of Black Lives Matter.

I am in the habit of taking from my shelf the late Paul Johnson’s “A History of the American People.” History has a calming effect on me, and the other evening was no exception. The opening paragraphs, which I must have read over several times before, seemed to jump out at me. Johnson proposed there three questions that should, if we have retained any sanity, frame the upcoming national election, I hope you agree. — tcl

“The creation of the United States of America is the greatest of all human adventures. No other national story holds such tremendous lessons, for the American people themselves and for the rest of mankind. It now spans four centuries and, as we enter the new millennium, we need to retell it, for if we can learn these lessons and build upon them, the whole of humanity will benefit in the new age which is now opening. American history raises three fundamental questions:

“First, can a nation rise above the injustices of its origins and, by its moral purpose and performance, atone for them? All nations are born in war, conquest and crime, usually concealed by the obscurity of a distant past. The United States, from its earliest colonial times, won its title-deeds in the full blaze of recorded history, and the stains on them are there for all to see and censure; the dispossession of an indigenous people, and the securing of sufficiency through the sweat and pain of an enslaved race. In the judgmental scales of history, such grievous wrongs must be balanced by the erection of a society dedicated to justice and fairness. Has the United States done this? Has it expiated its organic sins?

“The second question provides the key to the first. In the process of nation-building can ideals and altruism — the desire to build the perfect community — be mixed successfully with acquisitiveness and ambition, without which no dynamic society can be built at all? Have the Americans got the mixture right? Have they forged a nation where righteousness has the edge over the needful self-interest?

“Thirdly, the Americans originally aimed to build an other-worldly ‘City on a Hill,’ but found themselves designing a republic of the people to be a model for the entire planet. Have they made good their audacious claims. Have they indeed proved exemplars for humanity? And will they continue to be in the new millennium?”


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