Monday, April 6, 2009

Bowing and Scraping

You just have to laugh at the major media. Their hypocrisy is so egregious it's humorous. In 1994, according to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, the New York Times chastised then president Clinton for making a slight suggestion of a bow to the Japanese emperor. Now President Obama does a full jackknife in front of a Saudi Arabian dictator, and the Times finds its attention suddenly diverted elsewhere.

This video compares the measure of respect given by our president to the Queen of England, our closest ally, to the deft toe-touch granted a man who would just as soon see all infidels dead if it didn't mean that he'd have no one to buy his oil and protect him from his fellow Arab cutthroats:

A little obsequious, don't you think? I don't know why the President of the United States should bow to a dictator of a country whose only accomplishment is to be situated atop an ocean of oil. I suppose we should be glad he didn't kiss his ring.


Ten Myths about America

It's not uncommon to hear or read that the United States was founded on an attempt to eradicate Native Americans or that our Founders intended the U.S. to be a secular nation or that the U.S. is the biggest threat to world peace on the world scene today, etc. Often the claims are made with little or no evidence to support them, but if the person making them seems credible, they're often allowed to go unchallenged.

President Obama's recent claim that America has too often treated Europe with disdain and contempt and failed to recognize European leadership abroad are an example of the sorts of unsubstantiated calumnies that the left often levels at this nation. It's easy to make the accusation, but if it's not backed up with historical evidence then it's little more than empty rhetoric.

At any rate, Michael Medved has decided that some of these claims need to be challenged and he does so in a very useful book entitled Ten Big Lies about America: Combating Destructive Distortions about Our Nation. In the book he tackles ten common myths about the United States that have currency in the academy and leftist media, and shows that each is either false or at best unwarranted.

The ten "lies" are these:

  • That America was founded on genocide against native Americans.
  • That the U.S. is uniquely guilty for the crime of slavery and based its wealth on stolen African labor.
  • That the Founders intended the U.S. to be a secular rather than a Christian nation.
  • That America has always been a multicultural society and that it has been strengthened by its diversity.
  • That the power of big business hurts the country and oppresses its people.
  • That government programs are the answer for poverty and economic downturns.
  • That America is an imperialist nation and a constant threat to world peace.
  • That we need a third political party.
  • That there is a war on the American middle class which is causing many to fall back into poverty.
  • That America is in the midst of an irreversible moral decline.

I should mention that Medved's treatment of these claims (I think it's a stretch to call some of them "lies." They might better be called errors or myths) is uneven. The chapter on third parties, for example, takes on a decidedly more unpleasant tone than was employed throughout the rest of the book, as if he was personally offended by people who, quixotically perhaps, wanted to offer the country another political alternative. The subsequent chapter on the middle class offers a lot of facts and figures which cause the mind to wander, and is perhaps the least interesting of the ten.

Having said that, though, his treatment of the other myths is well-worth the price of the book. The first chapter, for example, examines the history of the interaction of the white settlers with the Indians and shows how the accounts of deliberate genocide and white atrocities are either unfounded or greatly exaggerated. There is much fascinating history to be learned here.

Exaggeration also seems to be the rhetorical tool of choice when it comes to the American involvement with slavery. Medved argues that as bad as chattel slavery is it's simply false to think that the United States was somehow the key villain in the story. Of all the slaves sold (by fellow Africans, it should be noted) to the western hemisphere, only 3% were shipped to North America. Yet we never hear denunciations of the Central or South American countries for their history of slavery which was far uglier than what took place in this land until ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865. Moreover, as Alexis de Tocqueville points out in his masterful work Democracy in America, so far from being the economic engine that drove American prosperity, slavery played only a minor role in building the American economy and in fact retarded economic progress rather than advance it. Slavery is indeed a great evil, but America should be respected for the tremendous sacrifice our forefathers made to end it. No country in the history of the world has ever done anything like what we did in our Civil War in order to bring an end to the injustice of human bondage.

Aside from the caveats mentioned above, I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to know more about the country in which they live. It'll be an education and a good antidote to the deprecations and denunciations of this country by many of our leftist academics and political leaders.