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Jewish Conservatives Debate American Nationalism


From the Thomas Frank article:

“What Miller left unsaid, but implied, was also the contrast between home and doctrine. For the past two decades, prevailing opinion has embraced the idea of the United States as an “experiment,” a “propositional nation” or “creedal nation,” as Irving Kristol described it in 1995. In contrast to older nations, America is bound together by people “dedicated to the proposition” of constitutional democracy as laid out by Lincoln. …”

Neocon Irving Kristol’s hot take on Americanism has been the prevailing opinion for twenty years. In this time period, our common culture to the extent we ever had one has disintegrated.

Ben Shapiro:

“Because Trump’s definition of nationalism is not the conservative definition of nationalism. Conservatives love America because we believe it is a nation founded on an idea. Our interests ought to prevail because our principles ought to prevail: limited government, individual liberty, God-given natural rights, localism in politics, religious freedom, freedom of speech and of the press, and so forth. If America ceased to believe those things or stand for them, we would not deserve to win. “Make America Great Again” would then ring hollow with the same blood-and-soil nationalistic violence of the Old World. If greatness is measured in utilitarian terms rather than ideological ones, nationalism is merely tribalism broadened, a way of valuing the collective over the individual. …”

Jonah Goldberg:

“And that brings me to the context. Rich and Ramesh chose to defend nationalism at a moment when self-described nationalists at home and abroad are calling into question a host of democratic norms (though more abroad than at home, at least for now). Donald Trump talks a great deal about nationalism but precious little about liberty and the Constitution. His contempt for American exceptionalism seems rooted in the belief that our ideals get in the way of our being a serious country (as I write in today’s Los Angeles Times.) His chief ideologist of nationalism, Steve Bannon, has in the past made common cause with people who quite passionately admire ethno-nationalism. …”

Yuval Levin:

“But American nationalism doesn’t have to be this dark and harsh, and it usually isn’t. One of the means by which American nationalism can be enlightened and moderated—and one of the reasons that our nationalism has never quite gotten away from us in the way some European forms sometimes have—is the simultaneous concreteness and abstraction of our nationalism: It is a devotion to a people devoted to a set of ideas.”

I’m a plain-speaking Alabamian. I have a habit of just blurting things out that politically correct people dance around. I’d rather get straight to the point. That’s my Baptist culture.

You’ve got a bunch of Jews here who live in metropolitan areas. All of these Jews circle back to their own concept of America as a creedal nation. America is cosmopolitan liberalism. It is an “idea.” Anyone can be an American because America has no racial, ethnic, cultural, or religious foundation. This is Emma Lazarus’s America that is always invoked by these neocons, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

This version of Americanism has a history though. It was concocted by a group known as the New York Intellectuals in the 1930s. It was mainstreamed in the 1940s and 1950s by the newly created mass media. It triumphed in the counterculture of the 1960s. America is a miniature version of the United Nations united by classical liberalism. That’s a legacy of the Cold War and our cosmopolitan Jewish elite who in the late 20th century had the power to control the Narrative.

In the 19th century, Americans had never heard of the -isms and -phobias: racism, sexism, nativism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc. All of these -isms and -phobias which are held up to be secular sins today were created in the 20th century. The same is true of this worldview that America is cosmopolitan liberalism and Whites are guilty or something. As Professor Kaufmann explains in The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America, “For the first time in its history, a considerable number of Anglo-American intellectuals openly disparaged the traditions of their own ethnic group.”

This doesn’t go any further back than Sinclair Lewis and Randolph Bourne. America had an Anglo-Protestant elite until the mid-20th century. The idea of America used to be radically different. This ought to be so obvious that I shouldn’t have to bring it up:

Not very nice, is it? That’s who we were even in New York state.

That’s not very nice either. But that’s who we were as late as the 1960s in Alabama. Did you know the concept of the Black Panther was a response to this? The proud White cock was the symbol of the Alabama Democratic Party on the ballot. It was the symbol of white supremacy.

Anyway, the point I am making is that Americanism was redefined by a bunch of Jewish intellectuals in the mid-20th century. New York produced Gov. Horatio Seymour who ran for president in 1868 as the candidate of the Democratic Party on the proposition that America is a White Man’s Country. New York City erupted in the famous draft riots in 1863. Even in New York City, that’s who we were.

Is Trumpism the introduction of alien strain of European-style ethnonationalism? Maybe it is something else though. Maybe it is the beginning of a reversion to the older, indigenous strain of Americanism as the descendants of the New York Intellectuals lose their grip on power? What do you think?

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