By Frank Vernuccio
Originally posted in the New York Analysis of Policy & Government newsletter
A small portion of the U.S. population has rejected the foundational concepts of what America is all about. Bedrock principles of individual rights, free enterprise, and even national sovereignty have been called into question as never before.Unlike previous major controversies, this division does not center around a single issue or dispute. Rather, it calls into question the essential reasons for the founding of the country, and even the great principles of western civilization that guided and motivated the thirteen original colonies to form an entity unlike any ever seen before.
During the past century, the basics of Western Civilization were challenged across the globe. However, within “the Anglosphere,” including primarily the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, the guiding principles were kept alive, and improved upon. The last vestiges of the world-wide tragedies of racism, sexism, dictatorship, and religious persecution were attacked, and individual freedoms expanded, in contrast to the rest of the planet, where, in many cases, these evils expanded to previously unimaginable degrees. Nazi concentration camps, Communist Gulags, and the medieval practices of Islamic extremism plagued the planet (and some continue to do so), but America remained largely immune.
That may be changing, as individual rights are replaced by collective rights, despite the history of this concept which resulted in 100 million people murdered by Communist states, 15 million or so extinguished by Hitler, and the growing daily ravages of radical Islam.
The attempts to eliminate the key, unifying ideas and traditions that bind America together become more serious each day.
“Progressive” educators, from kindergarten through college, when they include American history at all in their curriculum, do so only in the most deprecating manner possible. Left-wing pundits work overtime to cast the nation’s founding fathers in the worst possible light. Bruce Thornton, writing for Frontpage explains:
The politicizing of the universities has led to two ill effects. First … adding [anti-American] material to the curriculum necessitates the driving out of the traditional curriculum … Second, generations of credential students have sat in these courses and then gone on to teach in high schools and grade schools, and to write the textbooks and curricula that propagate this ideology. The result is a student population ignorant of the basic facts of history.
Even the unifying act of having young students recite the Pledge of Allegiance together is now under assault by those who wish to remove it from regular student activities.
As a result of biased or nonexistent education in U.S. history, there is little appreciation for the extraordinary leap in human rights brought about by the American Revolution, and the founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Therefore, when individuals who seek to dismantle America’s philosophical underpinnings point out the inevitable flaws in the nation’s founding figures, those flaws are all those undereducated students see.Some entertainment and sports figures use their access to the public to attack unifying symbols and traditions. Example: Football quarterback Colin Kaepernick, rather than voice his concern over a particular set of issues, chooses instead to denigrate the nation as a whole by refusing to honor the traditional playing of the national anthem. As a result, his muddled message isn’t one of reform of whatever bothers him; it’s an undercutting of support for the nation as a whole.
The essential philosophical principles which underpin America are under constant siege. Freedom of religion has been a central tenet of American life. But now, holding any religious beliefs makes one vulnerable to attack. Examples abound:
- Houston’s former mayor sought to mandate that pastors had to submit their sermons to the city for approval.
- The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal noted with alarm Senator Diane Feinstein’s assault on a judicial nominee simply because the candidate for the bench held traditional religious beliefs:
David Rivkin, a constitutional litigator, says ‘the tenor of questions by Democrat Senators seemed designed more to challenge the ideas of Catholic orthodoxy—a subject more fitting for a theological debate than a Senate hearing … Sen. Dick Durbin jumped in to demand of Ms. Barrett: ‘Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic … This questioning is part of a broader effort on the left to disqualify people with strong religious views from the public square.
- It has also been reported that a “A Washington state high school football coach … was punished for taking a knee at the 50-yard line for a post-game prayer violated the U.S. Constitution,” according to the radical 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
- The co-chair of the Democrat National Committee has a long history of associating with anti-Semites.
The most basic American right of free speech continues to be assaulted. In 2014, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced legislation to limit the First Amendment. This year, Free speech continues to be attacked, reports the Washington Examiner.
A revived bid by a top Federal Election Commission Democrat could lead to an “inquisition” against conservative media outlets like the Drudge Report, InfoWars, and Breitbart that take political advertising and are overseen by right-leaning owners or editors, according to critics.
The College Fix reports that the dean’s office in Utah Valley University, a public institution, distributed a guidance letter to all faculty encouraging them to report to the school’s Behavior Assessment Team any students who use “inappropriate language,” are “argumentative,” or who speak “loudly”—a move widely interrupted to mean not those who protest from the Left, but only those who disagree with left-leaning professors.The concept of respecting the results of free and fair elections is attacked daily. In the past, the nation transitioned from Democrat to Republican, liberal to conservative, without a hitch. Whether one likes or disdains Donald Trump, there is no disputing the reality that he was fairly elected. Nevertheless, even before he took the oath of office, calls for his impeachment, and for ignoring the results of the 2016 election, were rampant. Further, Zero Hedge disclosed that former CIA director John Brennan advised federal government officials to disobey President Trump under certain circumstances.
The basis of representational government, in which it is the voter that is the ultimate holder of power, is diminished by an unelected, unresponsive, and arrogant bureaucracy. Increasingly, key decisions affecting the daily lives of Americans are being made not in the halls of Congress as intended by the Constitution but by unelected and relatively unknown bureaucratic bodies. According to the CATO Institute:
In the 125 years since Congress created the first regulatory agency, the number of agencies and the scope and reach of the regulations they issue have increased dramatically. In 2014, there are over 70 federal regulatory agencies, employing over 300,000 people to write and implement regulation. Every year, they issue thousands of new regulations, which now occupy over 168,000 pages of regulatory code.
During the Obama Administration, powerful federal agencies such as the IRS and the FCC were used to engage in partisan political attacks against those who disagreed with the White House.
The very concept of citizenship itself is challenged by those on the left who, annoyed at the lack of support by the current population, fight to maintain “open borders” to allow in those unfamiliar or unsympathetic to America’s founding principles. Some municipalities are openly considering allowing immigrants—including illegals—to vote. The most recent example comes from Maryland. In August, reports Adam Edelman of Fox News:
A D.C. suburb in Maryland began considering a plan that would give undocumented immigrants the right to vote, making their city the largest in the Old Line State to do so. The city, which is home of the University of Maryland’s main campus and nearly 30,000 residents, is weighing approval of the new measure to let noncitizens cast ballots for mayor and City Council (according to the The Baltimore Sun).
Civil discourse is replaced by violence and the threat of violence. Examples are worrisome. In a scene eerily reminiscent of Nazi or KKK activities, Antifa’s:
Black-clad anarchists … stormed into what had been a largely peaceful Berkeley protest against hate and attacked at least five people, including the leader of a politically conservative group who canceled an event a day earlier in San Francisco amid fears of violence (reported the Chicago Tribune). The group of more than 100 hooded protesters … busted through police lines, avoiding security checks by officers. Separately, groups of hooded, black-clad protesters attacked at least four other men in or near the park, kicking and punching them.
All of this threatens America’s very existence. Author Eric Metaxas asks:
The challenges from groups like Antifa, the preferences for socialism over capitalism within the academic world, and the growing practice of governance by unelected “experts” over elected officials may seem new, but they are merely the latest incarnation of the horrors of the totalitarian movements that reached their height in the 20th Century. What is different is the unusual level of acceptance of these failed philosophies by many within the United States, and the blatant touting of them by universities, many popular personalities, the media, and a number of political figures.
If America was indeed a country created not because of ethnic or tribal boundaries but instead because people had come to believe—and therefore embody—a set of ideas, how could America be said to exist if … these ideas had essentially evaporated from our national consciousness … ? (In the past, Metaxas notes, America) stood for something greater than itself (and asks) when [the] nation has forgotten who it is at its core, has forgotten not just the important ideas that animated it in the first place but the heroes who brought those ideas to life … can we keep the republic that has been a beacon of liberty and a promise to the future and to the world?
It’s not just disaffected and arrogant masked domestic terrorists that are altering the current American political and cultural landscape. Take New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, for example. Despite his support for Nicaragua’s communist regime during the period when Moscow was sending its military to the region, his fondness for at least one terrorist group, and his open embrace of Marxist principles, he commands America’s largest city. The Washington Free Beacon has described how De Blasio “Rails against [the] concept of private property, [and] says it impedes NYC’s ‘Socialistic Impulse.’ De Blasio complains that “private property rights” stand in the way of his agenda.
Again, this is nothing new. The Bolsheviks stole the Russian Revolution from those who wished to replace the Czar with a more open government, and sought to eliminate private property rights. A few decades later, notes British politician and author Daniel Hannan, Hitler proclaimed that “Capitalism has run its course.” He believed, writes Hannan, as did other socialists (remember, “Nazi” is short for “National Socialists”) that individual rights were a perversion of the natural order “in which the group was more important than the individual.”
America’s very essence is under sustained assault from those who substantially disagree with all that it was founded upon.