How quaint and archaic is the motto on the Great Seal of the United States:
The direct translation of E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one – is hopelessly out of step and wholly unrelated to the reality of today’s world.
The original meaning of the phrase referenced the original 13 colonies forming one country. Over time, it has taken on a broader meaning, that differing and widely disparate individuals, via a melting-pot process, become a unified whole. The ideas of assimilation and integration into American culture and society are essential to this.
As Victor Davis Hanson pointed out on my radio show and in his most recent column, the country was founded on the idea of defining “Americans by their shared values, not by their superficial appearance.” Respect and honor of an individuals ancestral and historic culture was important, to be sure, but inferior and subservient to the American one.
But that was the past. Tribalism and identity politics are the order of the day.
Of course, the political left has consistently pushed group identity as a way to gain influence, money, and power. #BlackLivesMatter, La Raza, QueerNation, and CodePink are all movements associated with leftist objectives, and have as their singular characteristic the notion that a common skin color, ancestry, or sexual preference or genitalia, are themselves meaningful points of demarcation for ideas and values.
The historical response of the right has been to encourage further assimilation and integration. The idea of multiple colors and cultures melding into a distinctly American ideals-based unity, one of individual achievement, merit, and opportunity.
Recently, especially during this election cycle, another response has raised its sometime-ugly head. Borne of a frustration with 50-years of racial set-asides, affirmative action, and quotas (whether direct or indirect), many just don’t want to take it anymore.
Part of the response is totally understandable. Many Americans are sick and tired of being accused of racism due to nothing more than the color of their skin. They resent in someway being held accountable for actions of those many generations previous, they don’t like understanding that an illegal immigrant or Eric Holder’s kids can access special college programs due to their skin color or background while a coal-miner’s kid in West Virginia somehow benefits from white privilege, and they reject the notion that mere statistical number gathering can prove bigotry if any particular population doesn’t represent the racial makeup of the nation as a whole.
The other part of the response has potential dire consequences. White tribalism is now on the rise. It’s appearance is less overtly racist than fringe-dwelling skinheads or the KKK, but these groups have joyously climbed on board as well.
Fueled, in part, by tacit approval of Donald Trump, some on the right have abandoned the assimilation model and even begun attacking those that have not. “Cuckservative” is a word oft-used in social media as a shorthand critique. The idea is that conservatives who have not embraced a tribal ethic are standing by as other cultures and races destroy the country.
Anecdotally, I’ve certainly noticed this on all of the social media platforms in which I participate. Avatars featuring swastikas, words like “ethnostate” and “brown invasion” are now a daily event. Not much work is required to discover that #NationalPride or similar hashtags are merely barely-veiled racist dog whistles.
Once some of these passionate defenders of “Making America White Again” discover I’ve an African-American daughter – and I use this phrase intentionally as she is actually born in Africa and not just black – the knives and barbs REALLY come out. My friend, the actor Nick Searcy, who has a domestically-adopted black son, has been regularly on and off Twitter over the last few months because he has grown so tired of the constant #altright racist trolling.
During my aforementioned on-air conversation with Victor Davis Hanson, I mentioned how much care I’ve taken to make sure my daughter has an assimilation and integration-focused upbringing. I do NOT want her to have her worldview distorted by racial or identity politics. He simply responded by saying that while those intentions are all well and good, they will likely have little effect if she goes to a public university. Within days, he pointed out, she’ll be assaulted with a deluge of propaganda and entreaties from various groups, whose agenda and mission is entirely focused on fragmenting the population into isolated grievance-wielding populations.
He then ended our discussion with an ominous warning also referenced in his Townhall column: Tribalism ultimately yields death and civil war, as can be seen in Rwanda, the Middle East, and many other places. If this continues here in America, the results will be the same.
His conclusion bears much consideration by those concerned about his trend:
“We should remember that diversity is an ornament, but unity is our strength.”
Here’s the entire interview with Dr. Hanson:
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