This past Monday, May 25, was officially Memorial Day. It is much more than a day off from work and the official start of the summer vacation season. It is a day set aside to remember all those men and women who have lost their lives in America’s wars. America would not be the nation it is today if these men and women hadn’t sacrificed for the rest of us. We owe them our thanks.
Yet, there is a movement today that basically says they all died in vain, or for an evil cause. You can see it in things like the New York Times “1619 Project.” The contention of this project is that America didn’t begin in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence. Rather, it really began in 1619, when the first African slaves arrived in Virginia.
The contention from the left is that America was founded on slavery, white supremacy and genocide. The founders didn’t seek liberty. They were trying to protect slavery, and they wanted to steal the land from the Native Americans. America was built by slaves, and the entire system was set up to promote and protect white supremacy.
Are you sure they’re talking about the United States? It sounds more like they’re talking about the Confederacy.
Getting back to the subject, they call into question the legitimacy of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and everything that we consider “American.”
All of America’s wars were acts of imperial and colonial aggression, they claim. As for World War II, when America fought to defeat Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan, they note the internment of Japanese-Americans, the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany and the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan as proof that America wasn’t much better than the Axis.
I’ll be the first to admit America did terrible things in World War II. Every nation did. While the internment of Japanese-Americans was wrong, I don’t put that in the same category as the Holocaust or the Rape of Nanking.
I can only assume these people are so consumed with despising America that they ignore basic history. Yes, America’s greatest sins were the treatment of African Americans and Native Americans. However, from the very beginning of the republic, there were those who believed these were wrong and tried to set a different course for the nation.
Benjamin Franklin despised slavery, and founded one of the first abolitionist societies in America. Thomas Jefferson actually introduced a bill to ban slavery in Virginia when he was a first-term member of the colonial legislature, the House of Burgesses. He and and James Madison both spoke against slavery, even as they profited from it. The trouble was they didn’t know what to do about it.
George Washington had no such qualms. Of the American Presidents who owned slaves, he was the only one to set his free. He did it the right way, making sure the young ones were taught a useful trade and the old and infirm ones were taken care of.
Many of the founders believed the system they were creating would lead to the end of slavery. They all seemed to hope it would die out on its own.
They were not the only ones who believed in the system. Frederick Douglass, the former slave turned abolitionist, was fighting for the rights that he said he and others should have as Americans. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also fought for the rights African Americans should have as Americans.
Last year, Nike spokesman and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick got the company to withdraw a Fourth-of-July themed shoe because it featured the Betsy Ross flag. He said it reflected a time when there was slavery in America. Yet, this flag was flown at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Kaepernick also apparently didn’t know Ross was a Quaker who despised slavery.
Throughout our history, there has been the acknowledgement that America is far from perfect. However, there has, for the most part, been the realization that our system is designed to create a more perfect union.
That is why so many Americans have been willing to serve in our nation’s armed forces. They believe in America even to the point of sacrificing their lives.
The leftists and the promoters of the 1619 Project would reject this view and replace it with America as a place of oppression, racism, class warfare and imperialism.
This is one case where the leftists cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. They have a distorted view of history, and they have an equally distorted view of what America is all about. Those of us who know better need to make sure we keep the record straight.
We owe it to those who gave their lives so we could be here today.