Today I read a lucid commentary by Former New York Mayor Ed Koch on the current debate over how to deal with illegal immigration. He ends the piece with a word against the anti-Arizona boycott threats coming from quarters that oppose enforcement of our current immigration laws. “We are one country,” he says “and should not be boycotting one another. Persuasion should be our tool of choice, not punishment.”
Years ago I served with Mayor Koch on a committee that was part of the White House Conference for a Drug Free America. I found him to be much like the article he has written, someone who gets to the point, respects the need to speak fairly and logically, and takes account of people and facts before he does so. He has always seemed to me an almost a pure incarnation of the spirit of New York city- a little brusque, casually cosmopolitan, thoroughly comfortable with his own ethnic identity, and at the same time typically American. When he says “we are one country” he uses words to convey what is otherwise just as clear from his very way of being.
Unfortunately we live in an era when most of our political leaders convey no such thing- not in their words and not in the way they handle themselves. In this regard, Obama epitomizes their nullity. Unity is ever in his mouth, but the chief tool of his strategy for political mobilization involves racial humiliation, or else fomenting ethnically focused ambition and resentment. The people he seems most intent on humiliating are those who think of themselves as Americans first, rather than as hyphenated, color bound, linguistically self-involved members of this clan or that, only incidentally involved with an otherwise discredited American identity. Hence the insultingly routine abasement of America’s historical actions and policies, and the tiresome abuse of charges of racism or religious bigotry.
When Eric Holder called Americans a nation of cowards he expressed a key strategic assumption of the Obama faction’s world view. They obviously believe that intimidation is the way to deal with such cowards. By finding fault with all their works and casting aspersions on the motivation for all that they do, they are to be emotionally terrorized. So, while accusing others of mongering hate, the Obama faction and its fellow travelers adopt as their strategic goal for the United States of America an objective consistent with the purest form of hatred- the destabilization and eventual annihilation of its very identity.
To this end these ideological alchemists transform the saga of the most successful assertion of national liberty in human history into a uniformly sordid tale of racially motivated oppression and greed driven exploitation. In the past conquerors, and indeed whole nations, had impressed themselves with the prospect of a world entirely submitted to their unchallengeable power. The United States of America was the first for whom that prospect was more than the near sighted boast of ignorant delusion. Yet despite the unprecedented temptation, America’s actions after World War II represent the only time in human history when a militarily dominant power declined to use its supremacy to fasten the yoke of Empire on all within the neighborhood of that supremacy. This even though, for the brief moment of its monopoly of nuclear weapons, that neighborhood really did encompass the entire globe.
When through its mouthpiece the Obama faction rejects the idea of American exceptionalism, they slyly ignore this proof of America’s exceptional national character. Nothing but the purest hatred of everything American would twist such a powerful and unprecedented example of national moderation into a tale of ugly imperialism so offensive that it requires an incessant round of confession and embarrassed personal apology. Nothing else would frame the false charge of arrogant world domination in order to use it as the demoralizing justification for policies predicated on the notion that the American people have no right to defend themselves. Nothing else would heedlessly presume to compensate for their misdeeds by surrendering the means and even the concept of enforced national boundaries and effective national security.
Aside from its practical usefulness, however, there is another reason for the Obama faction’s falsification of America’s exceptional actions after WWII. The lie keeps people from thinking about the reason for what was in fact the exceptional moderation of the American people. Such thinking might lead them to examine its connection with the ideas of justice and the right limitation of power that constitute the deep root of the American national identity. Thanks to these roots, Americans were unlikely to think that even supreme power could permanently give one people the right to dictate the fate of others. They were unlikely for long to take even vicarious satisfaction in the spectacle of their military commanders acting as the haughty rulers of foreign lands, even the lands of those who had been their virulent enemies.
As people with a sense of their own rights and opportunities Americans took greater satisfaction in their achievements as the builders of their own prosperous destiny. Whatever the plans and projects devised, and sometimes successfully imposed upon them, by ambitious and self-serving elites, the only motive they could long sustain for their involvement in the affairs of others was the sense that what they did promoted the likelihood that those others would someday know the rights and build upon the opportunities that people just like them had been able to know and built on in America.
Ironically, this motive brings Americans together in unity even as it affirms their sympathy and connection with human beings throughout the world. The Obama faction and their accomplices in the assault on America’s sovereignty pretend that we must tear America down in order to fulfill our sympathetic hope for a better world. But somewhere in their hearts true Americans instinctively understand that this is false. From our experience (with slavery and the Civil War among other things) we know that we cannot build up our own prosperous and decent hopes by tearing down the freedom and identity of others. So we will not accept the view that to serve their hopes we must destroy our own.
Though I do not agree with him on many things, I have always felt there was something about Ed Koch that showed how well he understands this unifying aspect of America’s common heart and common sense. We will not serve the world community by erasing its national identities, any more than we can preserve humanity by erasing the distinct identities of the people whose individual lives reveal and constitute its special nature. The great wisdom providentially embodied in the ideas on which America was founded involved constituting a form of government that reflected this common sense. Ultimately, this exceptional achievement more than justifies securing the sovereignty and preserving the people whose good example still represents the last best hope that it may someday be the rule for all humanity.