Sunday, January 08, 2006

Americanism and Its Enemies

Reposted as history. Originally posted in January of 2005.

By David Gelernter
Commentary Magazine

Suppose you were to put together a bookful of pronouncements and predictions about America's destiny, ranging over four centuries. What title would you give it?

Such an anthology did appear in 1971; it was edited by an associate professor of religious studies and subtitled "Religious Interpretations of American Destiny". The book's main title was God's New Israel. From the 17th century through John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Americans kept talking about their country as if it were the biblical Israel and they were the chosen people.

This article is a long read, but very worthwhile. There are many movements in the world today that cannot explain in reasonable terms why they are either for or against America. David Gelernter has an interesting theory of what drives their support or opposition. He explains how the confidence of most Americans underlies the enmity of many of those who oppose us.

David gets to the heart of his theory with his passage "You would need some sort of fierce determination to set forth in a puny, broad-beamed, high-pooped, painfully slow, nearly undefended 17th-century ship to cross the uncharted ocean to an unknown, unmapped new world. You would need remarkable determination to push westward into the heartland away from settlement and safety. You would need ferocious bravado to provoke the dominant great power of the day on the basis of rather flimsy excuses, and ultimately to declare war and proclaim your independence."

The earliest groups that came to the part of the new world that became America had death rates that frequently exceeded 50% in the early days of each colony. America was built by the survivors, who took it on faith their survival proved they were personally chosen for greatness.

This is a part of our American heritage that influences us positively today.


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