Identity politics: The Denial of American Exceptionalism

In 1630 John Winthrop established the basis of American exceptionalism with these words: "For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us."

Since that time, America has stood for the promise of escape from tribal loyalties and hatreds, the limitations of social heredity, and from the cruelties of religious intolerance. Uniquely, America remains true to its cultural underpinnings -- founded upon a substrate of Anglo-Saxon society with Judeo-Christian values -- while still welcoming new citizens through a bonafide assimilative process.  Generations of people came here not merely in search of new space to grow, but on a quest for this cultural paradigm that defines America.

However, with the advent of the civil rights era a new approach to American self-consciousness emerged, one founded upon the belief that America is fundamentally flawed.  Under this belief system any greatness this nation possesses derives not from our cultural foundations and founding principles but rather exists only to the extent that America is deemed a blank slate upon which any social, cultural, and moral preferences may be projected with an equal claim to legitimacy.

The civil rights movement, initially focused upon eliminating arbitrary, non-merit based discrimination, in the late 1960s shifted to the goal of promoting "diversity."  Thus, "equality of opportunity" was supplanted by the new objective of equality of result. This change created a politically hardened left-wing no longer committed to incremental change, but instead dedicated to the deconstruction of traditional America and the narrative that goes along with it.

The Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana de Aztlan (MEChA) exemplifies the revolutionary, anti-American version of this phenomenon. 

MEChA , a"Chicano" identity-based student organization, existing on dozens of campuses throughout the United States, lobbies for the creation of "Chicano Studies departments" and seeks to influence those departments in order to strengthen "Chicano Nationalism." The essence of Chicano Nationalism is the belief that people of Hispanic descent and Native Americans "from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego" form a common culture and ethno-nationality that transcends political citizenship in the United States or any other nation.

MEChA makes no effort to conceal its anti-American philosophy, stating in its founding documents:

"As a nationalist movement we seek to free our people from the exploitation of an oppressive society that occupies our land. Thus, the principle of nationalism serves to preserve the cultural traditions of La Familia de La Raza (literally, "the race") and promotes our identity as a Chicana/Chicano Gente."

This anti-Americanism can also be seen in the curricula of multi-cultural studies classes at colleges and universities.

Yale offers a course entitled "Ethnic Politics in the U.S.", which is "drawn mostly from race theory, postcolonial theory, queer theory, and feminisms."  U.C. Berkley's African-American Studies Department focuses upon "the legacies of colonialism, enslavement [and] ideologies of supremacy rooted in notions of race that emerged within the context of colonialism and slavery." Princeton boasts of its African-American Studies Department as an effort to address "the nation's long heritage of discrimination, violence, and deprivation of opportunity for blacks." Similarly, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation states that its "mission is to advance the global black community."

Clearly tribal and ethnic loyalty overshadows and displaces loyalty to America and traditional patriotism.

Although these issues go largely unnoticed or unchallenged by mainstream America, each and every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  Aggressive and militant minority identity politics breathes new life into white supremacy, emerging over the past generation re-cast as "White Nationalism."

It would be a mistake, however, to believe that white nationalism champions the cause of American exceptionalism.  To the contrary, the movement simply inverts the argument for minority race consciousness and sets forth a minimalistic vision of American identity in which race is the one and only prerequisite for cultural identification.

Sam Francis, the late spiritual and intellectual father of contemporary white nationalism provides the following framework:  

"[E]very real nation is a 'people of a common blood' and 'descended from the same ancestors.' A nation -- from the Latin word meaning 'to be born' -- can have no other meaning.  A nation is a community defined primarily by a common blood, and it is only on the basis of a common blood that its population becomes a people."  

Francis dismisses the notion that America is defined by ideas and traditions independent of race, stating, "a credal or ideological nation is tantamount to totalitarianism" thereby positing the false choice that America can either be racially pure and ideologically free, or racially diverse but ideologically enslaved.   

White nationalist ideology collapses of its own weight primarily because it relies upon a definition of race  --  European ancestry -- that has never served as a basis for culture in the history of mankind.   If indeed this scope of ancestry was sufficient to establish common culture, if race and culture are one, how can the existence of Europe's scores of separate sovereign nations and tongues and traditions and wars be explained?

How do we account for the centuries-long fight for independence from England in the Irish province of Ulster?  Or the stand of Robert the Bruce against the English at Bannockburn in 1314; the bloody Chechen insurgency; Basque separatism, the Napoleonic Wars, the Cossack revolt of Khmelnytsky in 1654 and the birth of the Ukrainian people?

Moreover, if America is simply a blood-and-soil state, what is there to make it exceptional? The answer is: nothing.  America is simply a re-constituted, mongrelized, tribe of Europe.

 The white nationalist belief that "race" is a foundational requirement for culture, American or otherwise, is nothing more than a vaporous myth. 

Additionally, just as minority identity groups look to establish a transnational sense of unity, white nationalism is also distinctly global in nature.  Jared Taylor's American Renaissance prominently features links to similar white identity groups in Europe, Sam Francis quotes with fraternal admiration French Nationalist Jean Raspail, who speaks of the loss of the French "Fatherland", and former Klansman-turned-white-nationalist David Duke has become an American expatriate living somewhere in the Ukraine.

White nationalism and minority identity-based political organizations both equally denigrate the American Dream.  More precisely, these ideologies represent a tragic abandonment of the American Dream, and appear to arrive at the same conclusion that American exceptionalism simply does not exist.  Their moral and factual foundations, however are infirm, and give hope that the silent majority of Americans will reject such pernicious ideologies and work towards a better future for our nation.

White nationalists often cite the fact that Thomas Jefferson included the phrase "of our common blood" in an early draft of the Declaration of Independence as evidence that our Founding Fathers intended to create a blood-and-soil state. 

However, the canons of statutory construction mandate the exact opposite conclusion.

The framers took great care in laboring over our founding documents, and ultimately produced the most perfect pieces of political draftsmanship the world has ever known.  Lesser men might have proceeded without introspection and chosen to create a new Europe.  But the Framers, men uniquely conscious of the historical implications of their actions, instead to chose to create a new Jerusalem, a shining City upon a Hill. 

For that, we Americans owe our eternal gratitude.

Dean Malik was a candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 8th District in 2010. He is an Iraq War veteran and former assistant district attorney in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.