Biden can't even get 'America is unique' right

President Biden swore in some new citizens at a naturalization ceremony at the White House on July 2 and repeated a false claim he's made on numerous occasions in the past several weeks about the unique nature of the United States.

Here is the link to the White House event.  Biden starts speaking about the unique nature of the United States at the 13:53 mark:

I've often said that America is the only nation in the world, founded, on an idea.  Every other nation in the world is founded on base of either, uh, that that your geography, or, or ethnicity, or, religion.  You can define every almost everyone else, based on those t'characteristics, but she can't define America[.]

Let's ignore the Bidenisms that abound in the above passage and save them for another time and place.  We'll concentrate on his claim that only America is found on an idea — that is to say, an abstract idea.

Biden's claim is manifestly false!

In the first place, Biden's claim about religion doesn't belong in his argument, because religion itself is nothing but an idea.  While I don't know of any country today, save arguably for Putin's avowedly Orthodox Russia of all places, that defines itself based on the idea of Christianity, it used to be a common idea.

Consider Iran.  Before the present Shiite mullahs took over, Iran was secular, pro-Israel, and pro-Western, but once Iran adopted the idea of being a republic founded on Islam, that all changed radically.

There are dozens of Muslim countries that stake their sense of nationhood on their embrace of Islam.  Again, religion is nothing but an idea.

And religion is not the only kind of idea that builds nations.  Marxism too is nothing but an idea, based on the ideas of Dialectical Materialism and the Hegelian Dialectic.  And there are many Marxist countries in the world.

And now let's look at Poland.  That is a country that was founded on the basis of three interrelated ideas and continues as such to this day.  Without these ideas, Poland would not be recognizable today.

Around the year 966, the Piast pagan King of Poland was Mieszko I.  He converted to Catholicism and promptly placed his kingdom under the ownership of the Holy See in Rome.  In doing so, he cemented Poland to Western civilization forever.

In the next few centuries, Poland further cemented itself to Catholicism with the concept of interrex.  Poland did not have hereditary kings, but instead, a new king was elected by Polish nobility upon the death of the old king.  But this meant there was an interregnum, a period of time when there was no king.  It was a weakness the Polish nobility were willing to put up with in order to be free from possible tyrant kings.  But it left Poland vulnerable during times when the king's throne was sedes vacant — an empty seat.  To protect themselves, they devised the concept of interrex.  The Polish Catholic primate would become the temporary, interim king of Poland, stepping down upon the accession of the new king.

The third idea that defined Poland as a Catholic state was the proclamation of Mary, mother of Jesus as the queen of Poland.

This happened in the middle of the 17th century.  At that time, Poland was under attack from Protestant Sweden and Orthodox Cossacks and from Ukrainians under Bogdan Chmielnitzky.  (He, by the way, was the last independent ruler of Ukraine until 1991.  He also committed the largest pogrom of history against both Poles and Jews, until the Hitlerite pogroms of the 20th century.)

Anyway, Poland almost went under, but after Poland emerged from the crisis, in 1655, which the Poles attributed to the intercession of Mary, the grateful King Jan Kazimierz proclaimed her to be the Regina Poloniae, the queen of Poland, and thereafter pledged the loyalty and fealty of Poland to her and the Catholic Church she represented.

Poland and Russia are brother Slavic states.  But Poland used the idea of Catholicism to differentiate itself from Orthodox Russia.

Anyway — Biden is both simplistic and totally wrong when he claims that America is unique out of all nations of the world because it supposedly is the only nation on Earth that has been founded on an "idea."  It simply isn't true.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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