Saturday, November 9, 2019

Would America Be the Same If It Had Been Settled by Russians or Spaniards?

Joshua Roberts/Reuters
Of course not.
The myth about America is that it has solely been defined by a set of propositions; the truth is that it has been crucially defined by its culture — from the very beginning.
In my new book, The Case for Nationalism, I discuss the distinction writers on nationalism sometimes make between civic nationalism, which they often consider roughly another term for patriotism, and ethnic nationalism.
The liberal writer Michael Ignatieff calls the civic nation “a community of equal, rights-bearing citizens, united in patriotic attachment to a shared set of political practices and values.” Ethnic nationalism, in contrast, entails “that an individual’s deepest attachments are inherited, not chosen,” and “it is the national community that defines the individual, not the individuals who define the national community.”
It is certainly true that different forms of nationalism can be more or less inclusive and democratic. But no nation has ever been entirely civic in this sense, and it’s foolish to consider the United States any different.
Our cultural nation was extremely important at the outset, and remains so today. At the time of the Revolution, the colonists were 80 percent British and almost entirely Protestant. As John Jay wrote in the Federalist No. 2, “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs.”
The fact is that culture is seeded with ideas. Would America be the same if its people spoke Russian — the language of a country that has never effectively supported property rights, the rule of law, or limited government — rather than English? Would our political culture as we know it have emerged if practically every home in America a couple of hundred years ago had had a Koran on the nightstand rather than a King James Bible? Of course not.
Read the rest from Rich Lowry HERE.

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