Patriotism Essay 2010

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The subjects discussed so far range widely, from the political economy of slave plantations, the history of race and medicine, and patterns of urban segregation to the history of minstrelsy and cultural appropriation, but the thread that ties it all together is a core argument: that the United States was literally founded on white supremacy.

The project’s outlook is not one of racial pessimism, however—the sort of fatalism that Ta-Nehisi Coates has sometimes been accused of.

The Founding Fathers, perhaps with an element of divine inspiration, came together to build, in Shapiro’s words, “mankind’s grandest experiment in human liberty and self-governance.” To suggest that those Founders were flawed—or even worse, that the American experiment, whatever its professed ideals, has in practice consistently failed to deliver genuine peace, prosperity, and democracy to the people who live here—is an invitation to anarchy.

National unity can be maintained only through reverence for, and the defense of, America’s founding myths. The alternative to this restrictive conservative vision of national unity can be found in Nikole Hannah-Jones’s essay.

Other conservatives have insisted that the real goal of the project was to shame whites, disrupt American unity, and portray the United States as a uniquely evil force in the world—to undermine both its political and moral legitimacy.

Some pointed out that other countries have done bad things, too. Wiley Online Library requires cookies for authentication and use of other site features; therefore, cookies must be enabled to browse the site.Detailed information on how Wiley uses cookies can be found in our Privacy Policy.This means you will always be able to read us without roadblocks or barriers to entry.It also means that we count on you, our readers, for support.Many conservative critics have completely missed the point, even when it seems they are just on the cusp of getting it.John Daniel Davidson, writing in , for example, complained that while she “argues persuasively that African Americans are the true believers in America’s Founding ideals”—note the capitalization of “Founding,” which suggests a religious dimension to the term—“but also that they are dupes because the ideals are a lie.” It is difficult to imagine a more tortured accusation.As one legal critic of originalism argued in a law review article in 2010, “the traditional normative case for originalism does not hold water when applied to the Fourteenth Amendment.” The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed equal protection under the law, and established universal male suffrage, all of which the original Constitution pointedly did not seek to do.Meanwhile, writer Benjamin Weingarten concluded on Twitter that the 1619 Project was intended to “delegitimize America.” Erick Erickson and conservative legal commentator Ilya Shapiro made similar comments, with Erickson going so far as to lament that If the land in which the United States was founded has been tainted by racism since the 1600s and everything derived therefrom is therefore tainted, then the US is illegitimate, the constitution is illegitimate, and revolution is the answer — What Weingarten, Shapiro, and Erickson share is a fundamental belief not so much in actual history as in national myths: they view them as a necessary component of American national unity.We are committed to staying free for all our readers.Now we are going one step further to become completely ad-free.


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