September 19, 2019

1619 AND ALL THAT:

The America the liberal elite sees now in 2019 has been a monstrosity from the beginning—from before the beginning, in fact. Wilfred McClay takes up this act of historical revisionism in his cover article this month. The New York Times’ “1619 Project” exploring American history cunningly dates itself not only to the forced arrival on these shores of indentured Africans but to the year before the arrival of the Mayflower. Why is this cunning? Because it begins the American narrative in slavery rather than in the quest for freedom—the pilgrims having set sail in 1620 so that they could practice their faith without persecution.

So the American experiment is not a story about freedom but a story about unfreedom. It is not about a quest for justice but about making excuses for injustice. It is not about good things. It is about bad things. It is not even about the struggle between the good and the bad. It is about original sin without redemption. We were evil before we began.

That’s the highfalutin take. The more prosaic take is that America is not about the story of Barack Obama but about the story of Donald Trump. That is what the 1619 Project is all about; it is an excuse to hate America because you don’t like the political turn it’s taken.

Love of country is something akin to the love for another person Shakespeare diagnosed negatively: “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.” You don’t love America only when the election comes out your way. If that’s your view, it only means you didn’t really love America in the first place.

Punitive liberalism, to coin a phrase.

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