America’s Current Conception Of ‘Pride’ Is Toxic
Although the first person killed in the American Revolution was a black man with Native American blood—Crispus Attucks—the reality is that every man who signed the Declaration of Independence and was involved with crafting the Constitution was white. Simply put, there would be no United States without white men.
After almost 250 years, however, the life of the average American is not directly affected by what those white men did in Philadelphia. Indirectly, however, we experience daily a world built upon the foundations they laid…and they created that foundation thanks to the inventions and innovations of other white men.
If you woke up this morning and did anything other than work on a farm, you can thank Cyrus McCormick. When he invented the mechanical reaper in 1831, farming hadn’t changed in a thousand years. The standard was that one man with a scythe and two helpers could harvest two acres of grain a day.
McCormick’s early reaper allowed a man to double that, and his later reapers multiplied that many times. His innovative payment plans made his machines the workhorses of a dramatic increase in farming efficiency.
When McCormick introduced his reaper, 80% of America’s population was either directly or indirectly involved in farming. Today that number is closer to 2%. In essence, Cyrus McCormick freed up almost 80% of the population to go out and do pretty much anything else…from becoming entrepreneurs to florists to baseball players to scientists to plumbers to Instagram models and, yes, sadly, professional race grifters and activists.
Image of Cyrus McCormick by Vince Coyner
Another white guy who had an extraordinary impact on America today was Henry Ford. Many people think Ford invented the automobile. He didn’t. But his auto manufacturing production line brought the car from a luxury item only the rich could afford to a product that tens of millions, and eventually billions, of people around the world could afford.
With that unprecedented access to cars, the universe opened up for Americans. Transportation limits on where they could work, live, or go to school evaporated. Suddenly, they could drive anywhere they wanted without being limited by public transportation or a horse’s inability to walk more than a certain distance per day. Today 250 million Americans drive three trillion miles a year, six times the distance the Earth travels around the sun!
There’s also Willis Carrier, the man who invented modern air conditioning. Every summer, as temperatures soar across the country, scorching everything in their path, most Americans can retreat to their homes and relax in air-conditioned comfort or enjoy a movie theater or restaurant that would otherwise feel like a sweatshop.
The degree to which the air-conditioned office spaces changed the face of America is hard to exaggerate. While manufacturing steel or working on a farm might not be greatly affected by air conditioning, many of the things Americans do for work would be much more difficult, if not impossible, without it—things like medical research and high-tech manufacturing or more mundane things like computer programming or working in a superstore or busy restaurant.
Then there is Elisha Otis, who invented the safety elevator. Take a look at the skyline of any American city, and you’ll see buildings that stack 30 or 50, or even 100 floors high. Of the tallest skyscrapers—40 floors or more—New York City alone has 250, and there are almost a thousand across the country. None of those buildings, or the tens of thousands of buildings that are just 10 or 20 stories high, would be possible without Otis’s safety elevator. His presentation at the 1853 New York World’s Fair helped usher in the advent of skyscrapers by giving much of the public the confidence to ride in elevators.
There are countless other white men who improved our lives, including George Eastman, the personal camera innovator; Charles Goodyear, who put tires on our cars; the Wright Brothers and their airplane; Samuel Colt and his guns; Isaac Singer, the sewing machine magnate; Levi Strauss and his jeans; and Leo Baekeland who brought us plastic, to name just a few. To those historic figures, you can add (for better or worse) contemporary white men such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Andreessen, and in reality, millions of others.
The fact of the matter is that these white men built much of the world in which we live today. There’s no group of people in human history who have had a greater impact on mankind than white males in general and American white males in particular. The world they created may not be perfect but, measured against virtually every culture that came before them, the level of freedom and prosperity isn’t even close.
As such, we should celebrate White Male Pride! Yay!
But here’s the thing: Although these white men may have accomplished much, white men have also done extraordinarily bad things…from Jack the Ripper to Hitler to Stalin to Teds Kaczynski and Bundy.
We can’t celebrate white male pride because white men are not monolithic. Some white men are great, and others are despicable human beings. The thing that made America great wasn’t the fact that her Founding Fathers were white but, rather, it was the ideas they had and the framework they put in place.
The notion of white pride is simply absurd. For the same reason, black and LGBTQ+ pride are also absurd. George Washington was no more of a representative of all white males than was Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter. Equally, Martin Luther King was no more a representative of all black males than was Samuel Little, the nation’s deadliest serial killer.
While celebrating white males is absurd, we should nonetheless be grateful for the things that some of them bequeathed to us, things that have allowed Americans to live lives that kings couldn’t have imagined just a century ago.
That legacy isn’t due to skin color, it’s due to a culture that developed individual rights, freedom, and representative government over more than two millennia and happened nowhere else on Earth. Those basic elements, when combined with free markets and limited government, found their apex in the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution. Today the nation built on those foundations is the most robust and prosperous in history.
But that prosperity can only survive if the fundamental tenants of its culture remain strong. Sadly, they’re not holding strong, which is why America is fraying. By balkanizing Americans by race and sex, Democrats have removed Americans’ focus from creating more prosperity and, instead, put the focus on tribalization and redistributing wealth. It helped that they had the full weight of the government, media, and academia driving the transition.
No nation in history has prospered by redistributing wealth. It’s against human nature and a recipe for tyranny. The key to prosperity is creating more wealth, and the Democrats have undermined that as they vilify whites, both past and present, for the crime of being white. The truth is that the one pride we need is one that celebrates America’s successes and the building blocks of freedom that made that success possible.
Just as comparison and envy are the roots of evil, gratitude, and conscientiousness are the fount of prosperity. Although it’s verboten to mention in woke 2023, the reality is that white men built much of the world we live in today. We can be grateful for their efforts without making them gods or denigrating anyone else. The beauty of America, particularly in the 21st century, is that anyone can succeed. We should look to history with curiosity, seeking to find inspiration in what those men (most of whom happened to be white) accomplished, not with scorn and disdain for their sin of being men of their times.
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