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June 7, 2020
A first look at 'Erasing America'
"Progressives" throughout the West seem eager to erase our history and impugn our civilization, with ample blowback from those beastly "deplorables." You know, those horrid patriotic people who hang out at Dunkin Donuts and live on farms or in small towns, or who serve(d) in the military, or who are blue collar. Thankfully, James S. Robbins, Ph.D, formerly a professor, journalist, and special assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, now a senior fellow at the American Foreign Council, has effectively researched this phenomenon from an American perspective. His recent book, Erasing America: Losing our Future by Destroying Our Past (2018), is clear, well written and well researched, without getting bogged down in esoteric jargon. Nor is much spared as the falsehoods of sacred cows are exposed.
Robbins reminds us that America's first and third presidents, both southerners, are impugned as slave owners, which we know is evil, thanks in no small measure to the history we have been taught. There have been demands to remove their statues as well as their names from schools, government buildings, streets, etc. But should this be the sole basis for judging George Washington and Thomas Jefferson? Slavery was commonplace in their era, especially in the South, and it is not fair to completely judge those of a bygone era by contemporary standards (here's looking at you, Halifax). Fairness demands a balanced portrayal, not just a negative one, which means the greatness of Washington and Jefferson must also be acknowledged. Besides, these America and western civilization hating "progressives" might want to grudgingly concede that Great Britain and her Commonwealth were first to abolish slavery, a worldwide blight hardly unique to the English speaking world. And while the United States followed suit a few decades later, it was still long before many anti-Christian, non-Christian, or non-western societies; the ones romanticized
by the politically correct postmodernist left.
Sadly, even Abraham Lincoln is skewered. In 2016, Wunk Sheek, an indigenous student organization at the University of Wisconsin (Madison), staged a "die-in" to protest the mass execution of thirty-eight Dakota men under Lincoln's watch. One Wunk Sheek member even falsely accused Lincoln of owning slaves and described his campus statue as "belittling."
Actually, the executed Dakotas participated in the 1862 Sioux Uprising, which left approximately eight hundred settlers dead. Why let the truth get in the way of an agenda? Also, of the three hundred three indigenous men captured, two hundred sixty-four were pardoned by Lincoln and another was later reprieved.
A year earlier, a Black Lives Matter affiliated group at the same campus suggested that Lincoln's statue be removed. Reasons were either not provided or Robbins is unaware of them. Nevertheless, a few pages prior, Robbins references a book where the author, Lerone Bennett Jr, (2000) made a wild and unsubstantiated claim that Lincoln was a white supremacist who only wanted to free the slaves so he could deport them to Africa or the Caribbean. Who knew? By 2017, and true to form, a sycophantic student government at UM (Madison) caved by approving "a resolution to educate the community about 'Lincoln's oppression' "(p.69).
Adding insult to injury, objections to the Confederate flag, believed by some to represent slavery and subsequent Jim Crow laws, reached ridiculous extremes, with the toy version of The General Lee, the Duke boys' magnificent 1969 Dodge Charger, taken off the market because said flag was emblazoned on its roof. The old Dukes of Hazard reruns were also cancelled and I loved that show(!!).
Even NASCAR got into the politically correct virtue signaling game, although, to their credit, they merely asked, not demanded, that fans not bring Confederate flags to their events. But kudos to many NASCAR fans who dance to their own drum and ignored the plea by bringing these hated flags en masse to races.
Actually, Confederate flags represent southern pride, not slavery, to many. It's too bad that Robbins doesn't extend this argument by noting that the flag symbolizes "states' rights," which, like Canadian provincial rights, has considerable merit, when not used as cover to justify slavery or Jim Crow. After all, states, like provinces, are closer to the people and more sensitive to local needs than are distant out-of-touch centralized federal governments, which may be more inclined to default to one-size-fits all approaches, which are wildly inappropriate for geographically large countries.
Yet Robbins doesn't limit his thesis to history. His is a staunch defense of liberty, tradition, freedoms of speech and religion, individualism, personal responsibility, and patriotism vis a vis an onslaught of group grievance mongering, victimhood (and entitlement) culture, multiculturalism, diversity, (sans the diversity of ideas), open borders, censorship, political correctness with its totalitarian intolerance and persecution of those who don't share its worldview, plus an education system teaching that America is a racist, xenophobic, genocidal country rooted in slavery.
Robbins nevertheless concludes on an optimistic note, citing polls suggesting that patriotism remains strong, which implies that large swathes of the population may have at least a rudimentary knowledge of America's historical accomplishments, which, as Robbins correctly notes, is bad news for authoritarians (not to mention totalitarians) seeking to destroy our civilization. They prefer history that erases the triumphs and emphasizes the bad, so as to better socialize people to hate their country, their culture, their civilization, and perhaps even hate themselves. These manipulated, psychologically "broken," folks are then more susceptible to radical ideas and radical change, which, within the western democratic context, is what the authoritarian or totalitarian is promoting. Organized religion and the family also compete with the despot for loyalty and must be quashed.
Indeed, Robbins stresses how important parents can be if they intellectually challenge children who spout the anti-American propaganda they learn in school, on television, or on the internet. Emphasis may be placed on a can-do attitude that has made America a leader in finance, industry, technology, and information. Other accomplishments include, but are not limited to, the First Amendment, which is freedom's gold standard, the rule of law, and the abolition of slavery before most other countries and civilizations. And let's not forget America's instrumental role (to put it bluntly!) in helping defeat the twentieth century's evil twins, Nazism and communism. But unfortunately, this otherwise good idea only works if parents haven't succumbed to the same politically correct dogma as their kids.
Although Robbins doesn't mention it, there is also considerable pushback from Fox News and magazines such as National Review, plus YouTube presentations from intelligent and articulate people like Dennis Prager and Dave Rubin (once a man of the left). Accessing these sources and their biases can help balance the equation. And in Canada, we have Rebel Media, True North, and individuals like Barbara Kay, Rex Murphy and Spencer Fernando, fighting the good fight. God willing, they will never be "deplatformed" by the likes of Senator Elizabeth Warren stateside or by Canada's pro-censorship Trudeau Liberals, who want to ban internet sites and persecute/ prosecute people for writing unflattering books.
Another potential solution (albeit, easier said than done) is the philosophy, "say whatever you like, just let me do likewise and leave me to my own devices (and while you're at it, don't take or destroy my stuff!)." One must be free to have a particular point of view, a specific religion or lack thereof, and a freedom to avoid what offends them. They must also have every right to speak out against what they dislike or disagree with, but not to censor or deprive others of their freedoms. If they don't like Christmas, they need not celebrate it. If they don't like a particular, book, movie, television program, news network, newspaper or magazine, they need not read, watch, or listen to it. If they virulently hate American history and culture, or western civilization generally, they should consider emigrating to a country that rejects these worldviews and more closely approximates their notion of an ideal society. At the very least, they shouldn't deny others their history, the good as well as the bad, as this prevents people from better understanding who they are and what their country or civilization represents, as well as what it has overcome. Knowing our history's virtues tells us what we ought to continue emulating, while being aware of our history's vices hopefully encourages and better enables us to avoid mistakes from the past. In essence, the solution is not to erase or fabricate history, but to factually supplement what is already there, while exposing genuine falsehoods.
With Erasing America, James Robbins effectively confronts the destructive, paternalistic and even totalitarian impulses battering America (and Western civilization) and, as such, joins a formidable list of those speaking out against the tyranny that not only seeks to erase history, but celebrates cancel culture and political correctness.
Robbins, James S; Erasing America: Losing our Future by Destroying our Past; Regnery; Washington, DC; 2018 (Hardcover, 344 pp).
Image credit: Pixabay public domain, with minor modification