Pat Buchanan wonders, with good reason, I think, if America is breaking up. Here's the heart of his essay:
[T]he episode [the President's speech to school students] reveals the poisoned character of our politics.
We saw it earlier on display in August, when the crowds that came out for town hall meetings to oppose Obama's health-care plans were called "thugs," "fascists," "racists" and "evil-mongers" by national Democrats.
We see it as Rep. Joe Wilson shouts, "You lie!" at the president during his address to a joint session of Congress.
We seem not only to disagree with each other more than ever, but to have come almost to detest one another. Politically, culturally, racially, we seem ever ready to go for each others' throats.
One half of America sees abortion as the annual slaughter of a million unborn. The other half regards the right-to-life movement as tyrannical and sexist.
Proponents of gay marriage see its adversaries as homophobic bigots. Opponents see its champions as seeking to elevate unnatural and immoral relationships to the sacred state of traditional marriage.
The question invites itself. In what sense are we one nation and one people anymore? For what is a nation if not a people of a common ancestry, faith, culture and language, who worship the same God, revere the same heroes, cherish the same history, celebrate the same holidays and share the same music, poetry, art and literature?
Yet, today, Mexican-Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a skirmish in a French-Mexican war about which most Americans know nothing, which took place the same year as two of the bloodiest battles of our own Civil War: Antietam and Fredericksburg.
Christmas and Easter, the great holidays of Christendom, once united Americans in joy. Now we fight over whether they should even be mentioned, let alone celebrated, in our public schools.
Where we used to have classical, pop, country & Western and jazz music, now we have varieties tailored to specific generations, races and ethnic groups. Even our music seems designed to subdivide us.
One part of America loves her history, another reviles it as racist, imperialist and genocidal. Old heroes like Columbus, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee are replaced by Dr. King and Cesar Chavez.
Buchanan has a point. As we become more and more diverse, as we focus on the things which make us different rather than the things which we share in common, as fewer and fewer Americans revere our nation's history, traditions and founding documents, as fewer Americans speak a common language, we will become increasingly Balkanized. Every nation is subject to certain centrifugal forces that tend to rip it apart. What holds a people together against those forces is a dominant culture in which everyone shares. We no longer have such a culture, or it is rapidly disappearing, and what we do have diminishes its hold on the hearts and minds of Americans with every new generation.
America may well be breaking up, and that fact raises an interesting academic question: Can a democracy long endure when none of its sub-cultures is any longer dominant? In other words, can a democracy survive multiculturalism and its attendant relativism? My fear is that the answer is "no." At least it's hard to think of an historical precedent.RLC