Americanism… Why it matters.

One of William F. Buckley’s later books was titled simply Gratitude, which is, when you think about it, one of the cardinal conservative virtues. The spirit of gratitude was amply on display this past week at a symposium jointly sponsored by the Bradley Foundation and the Hudson Institute titled “True Americanism: What It Is and Why It Matters.” Spoiler alert: It matters.

Panelists took as their starting point an indispensable new book by Leon and Amy Kass and Diana Schaub called What So Proudly We Hail, a selection of stories, songs, and speeches about “the American soul” that should become the Book of Virtues for patriots. From the Mayflower Compact to Flannery O’Connor, and from Ralph Ellison to George S. Patton Jr., this collection ranges across American history, lighting upon the words that have shaped and reflected us. Whether we continue to cherish the uniqueness of America was one of the questions tackled by the panel, which included Charles Krauthammer, Prof. Robert George of Princeton, Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, among others.

Although there were disputes on some points, the panelists were agreed that what makes America exceptional is its dedication to enduring principles, its willingness to confront and overcome failings and sins, and the great blessing of having been founded by a collection of political geniuses unequaled in human history.

Liberals always worry that a celebration of American greatness will descend into chauvinism, triumphalism, or denial of the mistakes and crimes of American history. Juan Williams, another panelist, mounted just such an objection.

The danger, at the moment, seems quite the reverse. Our national embrace of multiculturalism, grievance mongering, and internationalism, along with a distorted and biased version of our national story (such as can be found in nearly every textbook in America) threatens to blind us to the sources of our strength. We don’t need a sanitized edition of American history in order to be proud of our heritage — we can handle the truth. But we do threaten the survival of liberty if we fail to instill in those lucky enough to have been born here a deep reverence for what is unique about this country.

On that subject, it’s worth quoting at length from one of the essays in What So Proudly We Hail, by one of America’s most thoughtful philosophers of government: Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge was president when the nation celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and he delivered a speech to mark the occasion.

He began by stressing that it wasn’t the fact of seeking to break away from the mother country that distinguished the American Revolution: It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles that July 4, 1776 has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history.

It may surprise contemporary readers to learn that Coolidge upheld the principle of equality as the most important in the Declaration. It sprang, he argued, from the religious sensibilities of the American people. “They preached equality,” he said, “because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.”

In words that could easily have been penned in our own generation, Coolidge defended the eternal validity of the founding documents: About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great chapter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

And finally, this, from the man who held the presidency during the Roaring Twenties: “If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy.”

Americanism matters.

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Shawn Curtner
9 years ago

Thank you AMAC for pulling the National Anthem radio spots! I will become a member and support your organization.

Shawn Curtner
9 years ago

I couldn’t agree more…Americanism matters! American exceptionalism is under attack from many quarters, even at the highest governmental levels by our current political leaders. American exceptionalism need to be defended and championed!

Certainly, in order to celebrate this ‘last best hope of mankind’ our national symbols matter.

• Who among the readers does not stand at attention and silently show respect when the flag is paraded past?
• Who among the readers does not stand at attention and silently show respect at the first chords of the National Anthem at a sporting event?

• Who among the readers would not put their own safety at risk in order to stop someone from burning Old Glory…I know I would jump into action if I saw someone about to burn the flag at a protest. I would defend the flag against desecration. Most of you readers would too!

That is why it troubles me so much that AMAC has consciously decided to continue running radio ads that desecrate our sacred Star Bangled Banner. If you haven’t heard them, they start with the opening bars of the song, then continue as a salesman schleps on about AMAC…its completely disgraceful. The National Anthem deserves respect and whoring it to schlep ANY product as an advertising jingle is reprehensible!!!!

it is the height of HYPOCRACY to claim conservativism while posting articles about Americanism AND THEN BLASPHEME THE NATIONAL ANTHEM!!!

Shame on you AMAC!

Please join me in demanding that AMAC pull these radio spots IMMEDIATELY!

Thank you.

(Dan, are you listening?)

james osorio
9 years ago

Here are some books that may be of great interest on this subject matter:
America for sale–by Dr. Jerome Corsi
National Suicide—by Martin Gross
New Deal or Raw Deal-by Dr.Burton Folsom
Assayes ” The Spirit of Freedom” by Folsom

Kevin Wussow
9 years ago

One of my favorite quotes is “Those who fail to learn from the past……. Are doomed to repeat it!”

Bud Offutt
9 years ago

I could of not have said it better. Just go a little farther, we may have let it go to far, as of now! We need to as, “THE GREATEST NATION UNDER HEAVEN”, AND AS A BODY OF ONE, SEE THAT THESE THINGS ARE GIVEN tO OUR CHILDREN! “IT IS UP TO US AMERICA!!”
P.S. If capital letters in a message means “SHOUTING”, Then listen, because that is what I meant to do!

gene kelly
9 years ago

I could not have said it better. Thank you
Sharon Minton

Sharon Minton
9 years ago

Our Constitution is threatened from many sides even as I respond. The side most troubling to me is our failure, collectively, to teach our children – our nation’s greatest resource – our future leaders. My idea is not new, but so valid it deserves repeating, we must instill in our citizenery from birth to death a sense of morality, eithics, responsibility, and respect which cannot be blemished. Herein lies our current destructive path, the new immigrants bring with them beliefs born in dictatorship, militancy, refuge-deprived, non-democratic learnings. They are not assimilated into our nation with teachings of our sacred founding documents, but instead inject the greed, power, and destructive nature of their former existance. We cannot, we must not, allow this destruction of our rights to be disolved by the unknowing, ignorant learning of new citizens or illegal immigrants. Our national educational system has become so controlled by federal law that our children are no longer taught religion, U.S. history, freedom of speech (prayer), or perhaps 50 percent or more of what our Constitution guarantees. WAKE UP AMERICA!

9 years ago

I salute your organizations efforts and invite you acquire and read my book “I Want My Country Back” , see release notice below. It is an apolitical text discussing the mess we (US Citizens) have gotten ourselves into – the core reasoning for our meltdown – then affords a few suggestions for turning our greatest liabilities into our strongest assets. I believe, while we may not agree on everything discussed we will be in concert as to where we evolved from, how we became strong and united, and why we must first restore Trust and Opportunity in our core values to leverage our bounty and continue to remain One Nation under God – The home of the Free and the Brave. Please take this as a ringing endorsement to your cause and pass this harmonizing message on to your constituency.

The long wait is finally over I Want My Country Back has arrived in paperback. You can access and order a copy either through linking onto CreateSpace via the following path;; or by accessing and under books typing in the title I Want My Country Back. The publication is also available on Kindle.

I hope you enjoy the read and if you find it worthwhile please recommend it to your family, friends, and colleagues by endorsing it on your website. We may not see eye to eye on all the issues covered in this text; but uniformity is not the goal, unity is! The unities to understand, accept, & leverage our diversity for a greater cause than just ourselves while realizing some happiness along the journey. This attitude will go a long way in reconciling, relating, trusting, and investing true wealth for stewarding in today’s world and enhancing our course for tomorrow.

May the United States we the people leave in the hands of our children light a path with faith, hope, love, liberty, justice, and trust for all those who seek to fulfill their American Dreams…

God’s speed…

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