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Thursday, 30 March 2006
Noonan: immigration and the American myth

From her column in the WSJ:

Because we do not communicate to our immigrants, legal and illegal, that they have joined something special, some of them, understandably, get the impression they've joined not a great enterprise but a big box store. A big box store on the highway where you can get anything cheap. It's a good place. But it has no legends, no meaning, and it imparts no spirit.

Who is at fault? Those of us who let the myth die, or let it change, or refused to let it be told. The politically correct nitwit teaching the seventh-grade history class who decides the impressionable young minds before him need to be informed, as their first serious history lesson, that the Founders were hypocrites, the Bill of Rights nothing new and imperfect in any case, that the Indians were victims of genocide, that Lincoln was a clinically depressed homosexual who compensated for the storms within by creating storms without . . .

You can turn any history into mud. You can turn great men and women into mud too, if you want to.

And it's not just the nitwits, wherever they are, in the schools, the academy, the media, though they're all harmful enough. It's also the people who mean to be honestly and legitimately critical, to provide a new look at the old text. They're not noticing that the old text--the legend, the myth--isn't being taught anymore. Only the commentary is. But if all the commentary is doubting and critical, how will our kids know what to love and revere? How will they know how to balance criticism if they've never heard the positive side of the argument?

Those who teach, and who think for a living about American history, need to be told: Keep the text, teach the text, and only then, if you must, deconstruct the text.

When you don't love something you lose it. If we do not teach new Americans to love their country, and not for braying or nationalistic reasons but for reasons of honest and thoughtful appreciation, and gratitude, for a history that is something new in the long story of man, then we will begin to lose it. That Medal of Honor winner, Leo Thorsness, who couldn't quite find the words--he only found it hard to put everything into words because he knew the story, the legend, and knew it so well. Only then do you become "emotional about it." Only then are you truly American.

Posted on 03/30/2006 7:41 AM by Rebecca Bynum
30 Mar 2006
Send an emailJason Pappas
Noonan?s damn right. It understandable saddens her; but it makes me fighting mad! Thanks for the excerpt and, via the link, the article. It occurred to me that multicultural relativism makes immigration less healthy for our culture today. A century ago there used to be ?settlement houses? that helped immigrants become Americans. They looked forward to learning the new ways. Most saw the country as a place of opportunity because of the great principles this nation embodies. If they came too tired to take advantage of the opportunity they made sure their children did. When the time came, they showed their love of country; no one had to ask for volunteers in 1941. Even those of Italian and German ancestry came forward for the land they grew to love. They became Americans first. Yes, she?s right. One can definitely get emotional about it.