October 8, 2007

Columbus Day And The Most Chilling Eight Words In Journalism

We heard from James Carroll five weeks ago, when he attempted to argue that "Marxism has yet to be really tried" as a Labor Day analysis, which emphasized the first two syllables. Today we celebrate Columbus Day, and since it's yet another Monday holiday, Carroll returns yet again to the pages of the Boston Globe to tell us what it means. It involves African slavery, nuclear weapons, and torture, but surprisingly, nothing about Christopher Columbus:

IF COLUMBUS is the beginning of the story, and, say, Lincoln is the middle, what is the end? Each episode of the American narrative surfaced a problem, which prompted attempts to resolve it, which led in turn to a new problem. This movement from problem to resolution to new problem and ever new efforts to fix things is what makes the American story great.

So Columbus arrived in 1492, but carried the European virus of ideological absolutism - what led Queen Isabella to expel Jews from Spain that same year. Such absolutism sparked Old World religious wars, and Puritan dissenters defied it by coming to America. But they brought their own version of that absolutism. John Winthrop's City on a Hill was a religiously gated community (no "pagans" or Quakers), with the magistrate empowered to coerce conformity. Therefore Roger Williams proposed the separation of church and state. By Jefferson's time, though, that distinction justified the separation of private morality from public ethics. Private morality meant he and others could keep the private property called slaves.

Abraham Lincoln presided at the altar on which the bloody sacrifice of civil war was justified by "freedom," but no sooner had redemptive violence (". . .as He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free") saved the nation's soul than it spawned the Indian genocide, and the Jim Crow betrayal of blacks. In the name of freedom, the United States conquered a continent, and claimed a hemisphere - a destiny whose virtue was manifest against corrupt European imperialism. In the American Century, the nation born in rejection of ideological absolutism called itself capital of "the free world," but redemptive violence went nuclear, and defense of that freedom required absolute readiness to destroy the world. The chill of Cold War "realism" froze the American conscience.

I would have bet money that no columnist in America could have painted such an incoherent and essentially false version of 500 years of Western civilization in just three paragraphs. People of intellectual heft generally have to spend years on dissertations being this dishonest and biased. Carroll may be the most efficient intellectual fraud in North America, a status to which he laid claim on Labor Day as well.

Columbus Day celebrates the opening of the Western Hemisphere to Western civilization -- the potential and the opportunity, not every single event that followed from it. Without that opening, the United States would not exist, at least not in its current form. Plenty of good flowed from that potential, none of which makes it into Carroll's essay on Columbus. Plenty of bad flowed from it as well, although almost none of what Carroll chooses to use as examples.

Let's move on to what Carroll says should be our focus, which all Columbus-related developments apparently keep us from addressing: the elimination of nuclear weapons and building structures of international peace. This seems surprising, as Carroll and his colleagues on the Left seem very uninterested in supporting the Bush administration's efforts to stop nuclear proliferation in Iran.

He approvingly quotes Barack Obama as saying that our nuclear stockpile is designed to deter a nation that no longer exists, the Soviet Union -- you know, where Marxism was "never really tried" -- but neglects to mention that Russis still has most of the Soviet arsenal still pointed in our general direction. He also neglects to mention the recent argument that we can apply the same containment doctrine of MAD to Iran, even though the Iranian mullahcracy seems to have no problem with massive destruction as long as the 12th Imam makes his return from the ether, a philosophy not shared with the atheistic Soviets.

So do we bomb Iran in order to get rid of our nukes, or do we keep our nukes to try the MAD doctrine on people looking forward to dying for Allah? Carroll never explains, only complains.

He also talks about torture, without giving a single shred of evidence that the US has tortured anyone. Carroll then asks "what about those who welcomed [Columbus]", apparently blissfully unaware about their own thoughts on what we consider torture and war crimes today. It's history without any historical context, a specialty of Carroll's. Slavery and torture have long histories in all corners of the world, and although Carroll apparently remains ignorant of it, still exist in reality in large sections of Africa and Asia, two places on which Columbus never set foot.

Enjoy Columbus Day. It apparently annoys all the right people.

Jules Crittenden also has more thoughts, including how he plans to celebrate the holiday in the most American way possible -- by working for a living.

Oh, and the Most Chilling Eight Words In Journalism? "James Carroll's column appears regularly in the Globe."

UPDATE: Sister Toldjah agrees with Carroll that we've taken a troubling turn in our history -- but has another turn in mind.


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There’s always at least one liberal in the crowd who will use a holiday as an opportunity to bash America, and today is no exception. James Carroll writes today in the Boston Globe about a “troubling” turn in our history and - yep -... [Read More]

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