Public commentary on recent murders and acts of violence against African Americans has been universally explained as evidence of ingrained racism of American society, the racism of police, and implicit racism of the Republican Party. The result has been wholesale rejection of the display of symbols associated with the Confederate States of America. Even Sen. Mitch McConnell chimed in by calling for the removal of a statute of Jefferson Davis from the Kentucky statehouse. Gov. Nicky Haley of South Carolina rushed to remove the Confederate flag from the State Capitol and the State legislature led by a son of the late Strom Thurmond and a descendent of Jefferson Davis argued forcefully for banishment of a symbol of racism. Mitt Romney was quick to absolve himself of white guilt by calling for taking down the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s official sites. And no Republican leader has had the courage to observe that race relations have been fractured by President Obama’s speeches and Obama Administration actions and policies
I was reminded when this occurred of a class that I taught in Constitutional Law. While discussing civil rights cases the text of some Court decisions referred to “Negroes.” One of my students requested that when I read those passages I should change the wording to “African Americans.”
In other words, we should obliterate from the historical record any language or symbols of past times when attitudes toward racial and religious minorities were different from today. Thus the forced removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast during World War II, slavery in some of the original colonies, the motives of the South during the Civil War, and anti-Semitism in the historical record should be removed.
Recently I downloaded the documentary on the Civil War by Ken Burns only to find a one-sided explanation of the Civil War, canonization of Abraham Lincoln and condemnation of the failure of the Founding Fathers to abolish slavery.
Americans, black and white, bombarded by this type of one-sided view of American history are persuaded that America is deficient because the American “dream” is denied black Americans.
We ignore that much good has been achieved in the South, particularly, since Brown v. Board of Education, and that may be seen in the migration to southern states of many senior black citizens from such places as Detroit, Michigan and Gary, Indiana.
“Dreams” are inspirational, but real countries are not founded on dreams. Dreams are visions of possible realities, not real possibilities. Dreams are utopian visions of perfected reality that no country can ever hope to achieve.
In examining what the “American Dream” is we must review the history of utopian ideologies as they entered the American experience. German idealism, for example, was brought to America by the “Transcendentalists” and turned into an ideology of democracy that became the civil religion of educated Americans in the mid-Nineteenth century. An illustration of this is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Concord Hymn. The “shot” of American patriots at Lexington was “heard round the world” and signified the annunciation of a religion of democracy to be brought by the new regime to all the world.
The constituent parts of “The American dream” have roots, therefore, in ideological utopian movements and include the concept of “equality” found in the Declaration of Independence and aspirations of immigrants from Europe who left the “old country” for the “New World” and a better life.
In most countries that are racially homogeneous, racial and religious minorities are tolerated, but not if they go beyond their “place.” This occurs in African nations that are tribal, in Muslim countries where Christians are a minority, in Germany whose history toward Jews is well known, and in England where English “Cockneys” are treated much as African Americans have been treated in the United States.
But, in the United States as opposed to England, African Americans are taught from childhood that equal status is a right that requires social acceptance by white Americans and that government programs that discriminate against those who are not black are “right.”
In Turkey today if Armenians made such demands, they would be killed. In some African nations, members of minority tribes making claims to equality would be subjected to genocide.
In the United States, however, an official civil religion consisting of the utopian dream of absolute equality engenders disaffection by blacks from the history of their country and the bludgeoning of white Americans to accept white guilt. This may be endured for the time being, but after this collective confession of America’s sins wears off, we must ask if relations between the races will be better or worse.
One senses that a massive rejection is building against such indoctrination by public executives, mass media and other representatives of our Ruling Class. One manifestation of this sentiment is the current popularity of Donald Trump. Only time will tell what other manifestations there may be.
Richard J. Bishirjian, Ph.D. is President of Yorktown University. His The Conservative Rebellion will be published by St. Augustine’s Press in August.