It was with some dismay, then, when I took a break from blogging to read the morning papers, to come across this anti-American commentary piece by Mark Kurlansky in the Los Angeles Times. It's certainly fine to point out how the U.S. has routinely failed to live up to its Jeffersonian aspirations, but Kurlansky's piece deteriorates into a boilerplate screed against our history. I was especially taken back by this passage:
Slavery was the most celebrated flaw of the founding fathers, but they also set the stage for the genocide of about 10 million American Indians and did not even entirely reject colonialism....No need to go on. Kurlansky gave away his radical bias right there, as the charge of genocide against Native Americans by the U.S. is a regular staple of the multicultural left's agenda. The problem, of course, is that there was no genocide of American Indians. Guenther Lewy debunked the charge in his essay, "Were American Indians the Victims of Genocide?," which originally appeared in Commentary Magazine. Kurlansky's ultimate goal is to topple the Founding Fathers from the pantheon of American history. But the effort is misguided. The American heritage begins with the founding ideals of the signers of the Declaration and the drafters of the Constitution. The paradox in our country's history, which Kurlansky does not address, is that the same documents that allowed slavery also contained the institutional mechanisms to abolish it. Indeed, the wisdom of the Founding Fathers was illustrated in this piece by Richard Brookhiser, which also ran in yesterday's Times (and should have been the lead article). It's amazing how wide the gap is between middle American bloggers (and their commonsense love of country) and members of the entrenched publishing elite bent on deligitimizing the United States.