By tradition Americans are an optimistic people. As the saying goes, we are imbued with an “indomitable spirit” in times of hardship at home and major crises abroad. These qualities contribute to our sense of national unity. We view ourselves as a country defined by, but not imprisoned in, the past. We eagerly await future opportunities that will make our lives better and more fulfilled. We don’t fear what is to come — we welcome challenges of all sorts.
Throughout our history, we have bonded together when necessary to overcome barriers to our development as a nation. We have tamed an entire continent and fought wars abroad in support of freedom. We have survived economic failures, massive political unrest, and other threats to our sovereignty.
However, in light of recent events and civil disruptions, the cohesiveness of times past — “our indomitable spirit” — is no longer as firmly embedded in our national consciousness as before. Other countries are challenging our scientific dominance in many areas. Our role as a leading world power is being questioned if not discredited. China and Russia are expanding their influence throughout the globe with impunity. Obsessed with domestic unrest, the COVID pandemic, and immigration, we have not yet fashioned a coherent policy to deal with their aggressive strategies.
In spite of this shift in priorities, we tend to fall back on old ways of viewing our national goals and international commitments. Rapidly shifting conditions have created the need for a reevaluation of our relationship with allies and adversaries. Once again, we have reverted to what I call the basic fallacies in the way we negotiate issues of national and international importance. Our optimism and pioneer spirit, as mentioned above, have a decided effect on the following observations:
The first fallacy is minimizing the impact of radical change: believing that successful measures should stay the same.
Our nation was founded on the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Many political scientists and judges are classified as “constructionists”: they believe that these two documents are “sacred” in nature and cannot be changed as written; others, on the other hand, are “organic life” specialists who conceive of these same documents as broad-stroked guides to political governance. As a result, they should be interpreted according to the exigencies or dynamics of the times. Conservatives, in this debate, wish to preserve the integrity of past legislation and its precedents; liberals seek a flexible, malleable Constitution that can be interpreted as conditions warrant. Conservative and liberal scholars both admit that adjusting to societal needs is the purpose of Constitutional amendments (27 overall to date); however, from a conservative perspective, why should legislators modify its basic framework at the same time? We cannot project current trends with any accuracy into the future. For more than 234 years our republic has been well served by the wisdom of the founding fathers. Resistance to change is normal but the refusal to change or alter our strategies can be very costly in the political arena. In general, cautious flexibility in judgment should always prevail to avoid the fallacy of expecting similar results over time.
The second fallacy is that good-hearted people, guided by compassion, will always determine political outcomes.
Laws, as well as wars, are rarely decided by well-intentioned government agencies. War is ended through defeat or surrender, in most instances without conditions. Compassion has nothing to do with how the enemy is treated during the occupation of their land. Expediency and collaboration serve as principles of conduct for most Western powers. Countries in the Far East have long ruled their conquests by sheer force, terror, and indoctrination.
Western laws are legislated with mutual interests in mind, not compassion. They are the end product of hard-nosed compromises in republican governments. Under dictatorial rule, laws are enacted by representatives who are subject only to the will of a tyrant. As Louis XIV of France famously said” “L”Etat c’est moi!” (“I am the State”)
The third fallacy is that democratic or republican government will always be preferred to autocracies that suppress individualism and freedom.
The United States has tried repeatedly to impose democratic rule on countries they have conquered. Without a foreign military presence and forcible adoption of republican-like governments, these nations would most likely have reverted to an autocratic form of leadership that meets the needs and expectations of native or tribal leaders (e.g. Afghanistan and Iraq). Autocracy–if administered with a full understanding of the people and culture–can be very effective: to wit, the despotism of Saddam Hussein in Iraq that held warring tribes together (the Sunni vs. Shia). Countries in the Middle East have been governed by monarchies, emirates, and dictatorships for many years. Democracy and its emphasis on individual rights are for the most part incompatible with these cultures. Lacking the oversight of American military forces, Afghanistan will quickly return to tribal governance; extremists (i.e., the Taliban) will enforce Islamic laws that are detrimental to women and young girls. More than twenty years of warfare have forced us to admit that the Islamic world has hierarchical gender customs that are unacceptable to Western sensibilities.
The fourth fallacy is that, in times of crisis, America will always protect the rights of the individual as dictated by law.
This fallacy is a product of Western thinking and political expectations. In the Far East, with the exception of South Korea and Japan (“conquered” nations with an active American military presence decades after the end of hostilities), in times of crisis the individual will always be sacrificed to the welfare of the group or nation. In the United States, there would be a hue and cry of protest if individual rights were not protected, even during the worst of times. Dictatorial or autocratic governments see little benefit in making an entire nation suffer to improve the life of an individual or a small group of citizens. This attitude reflects the culture’s view on human life and its relative value to society as a whole. The fallacy of assuming that all cultures will accept our interpretation of human rights is the basis for multiple conflicts abroad, especially in the Middle East and China.
The subcontinent of India, with its rapidly increasing population, seems to be the exception to autocratic or monarchical Far Eastern regimes. Its republican government comes from the Raj or British colonial rule. Within a relatively short period of time, demographers project that India’s population will surpass that of China, thus making it the most populous country in the world. With multiple ethnic groups, religions, and languages, one wonders just how long India’s national unity will endure under the stress of these social and sectarian divisions.
In spite of many attempts to do so, we cannot impose our political style of governance on conquered nations (“nation-building”). The American concept of local or state sovereignty, allied with the federal government on issues of national importance, is unknown in many nations around the globe. Our system of government is successful because most citizens accept its efficacy. Once that cooperative spirit and support are disparaged, our belief in the necessity of collective action will eventually disappear. If this should occur, our democracy, in its current form, could not survive.
Given the widespread diversity that now characterizes the American population, how can we preserve the willingness to accept electoral results? When voting procedures are litigated and broadly challenged, the seeds of discord are planted. The outcomes of future elections will be viewed with suspicion. Voter acceptance will be weakened and outcomes subjected to excessive scrutiny. We are quickly moving toward a more tribalistic form of governance as identity politics and interest groups take priority over concerns of national stability. The progressive movement to rewrite history in favor of “disadvantaged” minorities will undermine our sense of national unity. The wokeism of modern politics will have disastrous consequences in the years to come.
Our recent celebration of the Fourth of July (2021) with fireworks and the traditional appeals to unity rang a little hollow. Many liberal extremists now view the American flag as a symbol of white domination, not national unity. Radicalized athletes “take a knee” in protest against racial injustices of the past. In a few decades, if this anti-American trend continues in our schools and social media, what will the cohesive theme of the Independence Day celebrations be? Will we continue to show the same enthusiasm about our country and its uniqueness?
This divisive mood was evident in the singing of the “Black national anthem” together with the “The Star Spangled Banner.” If Blacks can impose their will on authorities at this event that celebrates national unity, we should expect Hispanic or Vietnamese music at next year’s festivities to emphasize their growing national influence. An hour-long special on the evils and repercussions of slavery would also be appropriate. This would encourage Whites to reflect on their “privilege” and need for atonement, not on the common traits that join our diverse ethnic groups into a functioning whole.
Do not expect, however, an in-depth documentary on the “root causes” of Black-on-Black crime in the bloodbath of Chicago’s ghettos. Blacks who shoot other Blacks are considered collateral damage (if not commonplace) and not worthy of media attention since they do not conform to the “progressive narrative.” Blacks are important only if they are perceived as victims of white neglect or violence. More than anything, a White police officer who shoots an “unarmed” Black merits national media coverage of a prolonged nature. A statue of George Floyd (“I can’t breathe”) — a five-time convicted felon, counterfeiter, drug dealer and addict — is emblematic of this racial disparity. In a sense, his monument places a minor-league Black criminal on an equal footing with the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr., in Washington D. C. which is a focal point for racial justice and peaceful compromise.
In summary, we tend to reason in ways that reflect our personal experiences and biases . The fallacies we have discussed pertain to national habits and attitudes which offer reassurance that most problems, no matter how difficult, can be solved by good-will diplomacy and relentless hard work. In a word, it is the “American way.”
In another context, this fallacious approach to domestic issues will have a negative impact on our national security and future solidarity. The questions that we should address in discussing our current political crises are many. The following are only a few examples among the most critical:
The Left’s recent promotion of “systemic White racism” as an intrinsic quality of being White; race is deemed a form of social destiny if not a “disease” that must be eradicated. The celebration of Project 1619, now being taught in many schools and Juneteenth (the arrival in America of the first shipment of slaves and its adoption as a national holiday); the introduction of “critical race theory” into the classroom (our country was founded on slavery and the continuous oppression of Blacks up to the present day; history must reflect this reality as an innate and permanent evil of white leadership.); social progressivism and its narrative: the Marxist ambition to remake America into a socialist state. To wit, laws enacted by white legislators have no relevance in the wokist community and are consequently illegitimate in their eyes. Rioting in the name of woke political causes is effective and morally justified, no matter what the results may be. As the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin once stated, to make an omelet you must first break some eggs. Unrestricted immigration is not so much a demographic issue for Americans but a means of achieving the long-term dominance of the Democratic Party.
We must also remember that to remain silent in the face of this dystopian turmoil is a sign of assent. The Biden-Harris regime is using the full power of the federal government to enforce its agenda. The COVID pandemic and its variants will be the stalking horse for the implementation of draconian measures related to gun control, “white supremacists” and their insurrection, climate issues, and the radical socialization of American politics. President Biden is now touting “human infrastructure” in his efforts to promote child care and parental subsidies that have nothing to do with the rebuilding of bridges and roadways. COVID vaccinations will become mandatory in spite of legitimate objections to their application on a national scale. Ideology is promoting vast changes in the way we relate to others.
The America First of the Trump era is becoming a radicalized new country in its political aspirations toward equity and inclusion of minorities in all facets of government, regardless of true merit. If we remain as we are now — diverse, quasi-socialist, egalitarian, and democratic — we have no reason to expect that this trajectory will change. That means, that for the first time, we must reconsider our assumptions about what America is, and look instead to what it must be in order to survive our bad decisions as a democracy up to the present date.