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Trump’s Cornball American History

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One of President Trump’s last acts in office offered his view of American history. Just a few days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Trump administration released both the 1776 Commission Report and the list of statues for the proposed National Garden of American Heroes.

Both were well-intentioned efforts designed to counter the poison of Leftist historiography — but both fail to do exactly that. The effort amounts to little more than a boomer clinging to the last vestiges of Cold War civic nationalism.

The project appeared promising at first. “On this very day in 1787, our Founding Fathers signed the Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It was the fulfillment of a thousand years of Western civilization. Our Constitution was the product of centuries of tradition, wisdom, and experience,” Trump said at the September ceremony announcing the initiative. He lambasted the anti-Americanism of Leftist history — specifically naming the notorious 1619 Project — and how it poisons the minds of the young. “Our mission is to defend the legacy of America’s founding, the virtue of America’s heroes, and the nobility of the American character,” the then-president added. He pledged to create a curriculum that will effectively counter liberal lies and turn our young students into ardent patriots. He also vowed to erect a garden of statues dedicated to American heroes.

This project solidified Trump’s campaign pitch as the defender of the historic American nation. He would restore our nation’s sense of itself and banish anti-white racism from the classroom. His history would inculcate patriotism and dispel the detritus of past indoctrination.

But his initiatives fall short. They attempt to reanimate the rosy history of Cold War liberals and see America as a Conservative Inc. fantasy. The 1776 Report denies an ethnic or cultural basis to America’s founders.

“They were neither wholly English nor wholly Protestant nor wholly Christian,” the report claims. “Some other basis would have to be found and asserted to bind the new people together and to which they would remain attached if they were to remain a people. That basis was the assertion of universal and eternal principles of justice and political legitimacy.”

Yes, the 1776 Report’s grand proposal is that America was founded on “ideas” — something conservatives and liberals have repeated ad nauseam since World War II. According to the report, our key founding principle is equality. The 1619 Project makes the same claim, except the New York Times’ series acknowledges the racialism of the founders. The 1776 Report pretends the Founders were colorblind conservatives. The Trump-approved report is filled with tripe such as this:

To be an American means something noble and good. It means treasuring freedom and embracing the vitality of self-government. We are shaped by the beauty, bounty, and wildness of our continent. We are united by the glory of our history. And we are distinguished by the American virtues of openness, honesty, optimism, determination, generosity, confidence, kindness, hard work, courage, and hope.

Does any nationality claim to not be something noble and good? America’s alleged virtues sound like they were plagiarized from a self-help book for middle-aged women. The founding stock was certainly not open to Indian marauders. 

You can buy It’s Okay to Be White: The Best of Greg Johnson here.

The report’s discussion of identity politics may be its most risible element. It blames minority identity politics on — you guessed it — racist Democrats: “In portraying America as racist and white supremacist, identity politics advocates follow Lincoln’s great rival Stephen A. Douglas, who wrongly claimed that American government ‘was made on the white basis’ ‘by white men, for the benefit of white men.’” Douglas, unlike the 1776 report, spoke the truth. The report’s chief identitarian villain is John C. Calhoun, the political titan of the antebellum South. Calhoun’s beliefs, as described by the report, are more insightful than any of its silly arguments. 

Rejecting America’s common political identity that follows from the Declaration’s principles, he argued that the American polity was not an actual community at all but was reducible only to diverse majority and minority groups. Calhoun saw these groups as more or less permanent, slowly evolving products of their race and particular historical circumstances.

Calhoun’s vision sounds like a more useful guide for the American Right than anything the 1776 Commission proposes. 

On top of the demonization of great white politicians, the report worships a false image of Martin Luther King. Instead of accurately portraying King as a race hustler who supported identity politics and wealth redistribution, the commission treats him as a colorblind conservative: “King refused to define Americans in terms of permanent racialized identities and called on Americans ‘to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood’ and see ourselves as one nation united by a common political creed and commitment to Christian love.” The report claims, like all conservative historiography, that the Civil Rights Movement went off the rails following King’s death. If any of the scholars involved had read Christopher Caldwell’s Age of Entitlement, they would’ve understood that’s an erroneous distinction: the latter Civil Rights Movement, including Black Lives Matter, is a natural outgrowth of King’s work.

Despite the report’s goofy analysis and conclusions, it was still dubbed “racist” by the mainstream media. CNN, for instance, called it a “racist school curriculum” because it criticized affirmative action and identity politics. Journalists no longer have to fear it after Joe Biden quickly rescinded it on his first day of office.

The report was not just the work of Trump administration interns. It was overseen by heavy hitters from the Claremont Institute, Heritage Foundation, and Hillsdale College. The 40-some odd pages embody Conservative Inc.’s view of America and its history. It demonstrates how flawed and stupid movement conservatism is.

The National Garden of American Heroes is even more embarrassing. This proposal would erect at least 100 statues to honor our history. One would think that this would be America’s answer to the German Empire’s Siegesallee, which displayed great statues of Prussian leaders and heroes. Instead, the Garden mixes American presidents with random entertainers and black athletes. If ever built, you would see Andrew Jackson standing aside Kobe Bryant, Whitney Houston, and, for some reason, Hannah Arendt. The list may as well have included the Hamburglar and Scooby-Doo. Are they not great icons of American culture as well?

The list of heroes reads like a small group of boomers jotted down their favorite figures and added some random presidents as well. The garden would stand as a joke rather than an inspiration. No serious country includes basketball players and drug-addled singers next to great generals and statesmen.

The 1776 Commission and the Garden of Cringe reveal conservatives’ failure to grapple with reality. The Cold War consensus is never going to return. It makes no sense to continue to lie about the American founding. The 1619 Project is insidious, but at least it’s honest about the inherent racialism of our nation. Conservatives would do much better to emphasize the founding people rather than supposed founding principles. They were white men, primarily British, fighting for their independence from a foreign power. As John Jay stated, to the consternation of the 1776 report authors:

Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.

Principles can change and easily be reinterpreted over time. So long as the people remains, the nation lives on. If the people changes, then the nation changes — no matter how much the current regime preaches the gospel of foundational principles.

Conservatives would do better to follow Stephen A. Douglas and John C. Calhoun rather than Martin Luther King. The former embraced the Founders’ vision, the latter sought to overturn it. Conservatives offer no serious alternative to the 1619 Project if they cling to King and gush over equality. Those poisonous traits are how we got to the anti-white history that reigns today.

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  1. James O'Meara
    Posted January 22, 2021 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    When your enemy promotes a lie (“America was founded on a proposition, and that is Equality”) then make him live up to it … until he chokes on it.

    Alinsky RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”

  2. Norbert
    Posted January 22, 2021 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    You are one of the most insightful commentators on American politics that I know of. It’s great to find a second post of yours within a week here. This is indeed the time to reveal “how stupid and flawed movement conservatism is.” I’m still laughing at the line about the Hamburglar.

  3. Memebro
    Posted January 22, 2021 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    “Arendt was born in Linden, a district of Hanover, in 1906, to a Jewish family. At the age of three, her family moved to Königsberg, the capital of East Prussia, so that her father’s syphilis could be treated”

    These two lines sum up her Wikipedia quite nicely.

    • 12AX7
      Posted January 22, 2021 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      As far as banality goes, the Garden of American Heroes with its sport figures, “rappers”, movie stars and other degenerates seems appropriate. Include The Hamburglar and Scooby Doo too; why not. I would add Rin Tin Tin and Lassie, they were also great Americans. Perry Mason was the greatest lawyer of all time: show me another lawyer with a better win/loss record so he gets a statue too. Don’t forget Flipper, he confounded many criminals and Francis the Talking Mule helped win WWII.

      I would sincerely support such a Garden of Heroes, and I would visit it. I love shit like this and it’s one thing America still excels at, shlock. I would be doubled up laughing as I paid my respects to Lassie and Francis the Talking Mule, the place would be hilarious.

      • Mike Ricci
        Posted January 22, 2021 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        Haha, True enough. White American culture is primarily schlock.

      • Hide the Remote
        Posted January 22, 2021 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        The three civnat heroes who should be included are that earnest-looking gent who seems afraid of public speaking yet stands up bravely to say something to his neighbors at his New England town meeting in the Norman Rockwell painting; Mr. Smith, who famously went to Washington in that oldtimey movie; and Clara Peller, that feisty granny who cut those smarmy suits down to size with her age-old question, which we Americans have yet to receive an adequate answer to, “Where’s the beef?” I don’t know who any actual historical figures are.

        • 12AX7
          Posted January 23, 2021 at 9:33 am | Permalink

          . . . and the My Pillow Guy hawking his shit on TV all the time. He gets a statue holding up a pillow with an inscription that reads: “%15 Discount if you text me now”

      • nineofclubs
        Posted January 23, 2021 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Colonel Hogan (Bob Crane) from Hogans Heroes. He DID win WW2 single handed from within the confines of Luft Stallag 13.

        A genuine American hero.

  4. Dr ExCathedra
    Posted January 22, 2021 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Thanks for making something so sad seem funny.

  5. Bruno Bucciaratti
    Posted January 22, 2021 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Well damn, there goes our one chance to get a statue of Johnny Cash….

  6. Antidote
    Posted January 22, 2021 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    The smell and texture of this Statuary Garden project betrays very heavy Ellis Islander contribution. So I was surprised no mention was made of their old standby “The Nation of Immigrants-Melting Pot” mythos. That the Injuns crossed the Bering Straight, the Negroes came through the middle passage, the Irish floated over on coffin ships, the WASPs arrived on the Mayflower and Arabella, and the Jews came on the Saint Louis with Notzee u-boats in pursuit.
    Ronald McDonald and the Statue of Liberty would have to be included in this shitshow, but maybe they could be combined with Miss liberty holding aloft a Big Mac whilst clutching a happy meal. I would insist upon Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and of course King Kong breaking through the gates. As far as Negroes, why not statues of Michael Jackson displaying his numerous stages of metamorphosis?
    Hannah Arendt? The camel’s nose in the tent for Eely Weasel and Olga Lengyel.

    • Dr. Krieger
      Posted January 22, 2021 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      I vote for a statue of the fat diner waitress from the cover of Supertramp’s classic album, Breakfast in America.
      Now THAT’S America.

  7. Lord Shang
    Posted January 22, 2021 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I mean this. Do you know what is saddest about this column? That it had to appear here, instead of the Wall Street Journal. I use the WSJ because it is about the only national or major regional paper I can think of that is NOT 100% Far Leftist. I read it daily, and the typical editorial column is no better written than this one, and invariably less courageous and therefore less wise. People like Hampton and Spencer Quinn and others should be having nationally syndicated columns. Indeed, what they write is mostly less extreme than the kind of 1619-ish extremist and racist garbage that has been appearing in various iterations in the (((NYT))) for decades already.

    As to the OP, what can be said about Trump at this late date? I truly believe that he is a good man at heart, although never a model of probity or classic [ideal] conservative rectitude. I think he entered the GOP primary purely to boost his (name-)brand, and to his surprise actually won the GOP nomination, and I’m sure even more surprisingly, defeated Clinton. His performance in office was far from the best that someone more passionate and knowledgeable (like anyone here) could have offered, but I don’t think Trump was a sellout. Even when he did sell out (as with the pandering to blacks, esp the “criminal justice reform” garbage), I think it was more about aiding his reelection (which may well have been stolen from him; so we’ll never know if his pandering actually worked) than him being a traitor or liberal fool. I am sorry for the man. He was treated shabbily by everyone (compounded by his own poor personnel choices); the Democrats violated every political (and moral) norm in prosecuting him for precisely nothing (as again with this second, equally bogus impeachment); and he really might have been robbed of his earned election victory by well-planned leftist vote fraud. Meanwhile, through it all, he wasn’t a bad President. Except for the criminal justice treason, he did nothing bad, and some good things. I think in a second term, he would have gotten the Wall finished (though he should have been able to do that already).

    Anyway, as Arnold was the last GOP Governor of CA, Trump is either the last, or just possibly, the second last GOP President of the USA. I doubt any sort of even moderately conservative President will win election after 2030. Republicans will still win, but only by being like they were from FDR until Reagan – slightly less leftist than the Democrats.

  8. Alexandra O.
    Posted January 22, 2021 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    From the post and the comments, I am wondering if I am on the right site. True, I would like very much more to live in Europe somewhere — closer to all the great art museums I love — but if we are so mocking of American people, why are we working to ‘save’ a slice of this place?

    • Vauquelin
      Posted January 23, 2021 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      As the white American nationalist movement becomes more racially aware, it will have to be founded closer to European sentiments and move away from what is today considered to be “American,” as distinct and detached from Europe and aloof to its destiny, realizing instead that the fate of America and Europe are intertwined. That means cutting out a lot of the fat, i.e. the the majority of 20th century US culture, which has almost entirely been a freakshow produced by a nation in decline. A successful nationalist movement should create a clean slate and a fresh start for American culture looking for inspiration in European traditions.

      To go a little off-topic, I believe that it should also unite America the way Bismarck united Germany, from semi-independent territories into a nation-state with a new pan-American race-culture that is aimed at national unity rather than plurality and state-identity. This will be the hardest pill to swallow for many American dissident rightists today, who are still married to the notion of individuality and state independence, and still go around flying the rebel flag.

    • spin gerahat
      Posted January 24, 2021 at 5:03 am | Permalink

      A lot of what I’ve been seeing make my fillings hurt. There are termites in this house, it dosen’t matter to them who or what.
      Trump in the end was punch drunk.
      Its really going to be so much better now that he’s gone right guys ?
      I would take boomer civnat over whats coming.
      Too bad thats no an option.

  9. Afterthought
    Posted January 22, 2021 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    America is dead.

    Moving on.

    • 3g4me
      Posted January 23, 2021 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      Just so. And a boomer/civnat/Ellis Island ‘Murrican history is neither American nor true history, so it warrants mocking at the very least.

  10. 12AX7
    Posted January 22, 2021 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    In America, one’s fame (or infamy) is important, not the deeds and accomplishments that brought the fame (or infamy) in the first place. Under the regime of “equality” who is to say Lewis & Clark’s Voyage of Exploration is more worthy of fame than a baseball player who hits the ball 500 feet even though he is an illiterate from the Dominican Republic? Yes, Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon but Michael Jackson was a bizarre negro who did a moon walk too so his statue goes next to Neil’s.

    Thomas Edison, a prolific inventor did invent the incandescent light bulb (sorry Joe, it’s true) but some black guy invented the Super Soaker so they belong together; you just can’t discriminate. All men are created equal ergo all accomplishments are created equal. BTW, that Means “Dr.” Jill Biden is as accomplished as Dr. Lister who invented antiseptic surgery. “Dr.” Jill should therefore, as the eminent philosopher Whoopi Goldberg recommended, be made Surgeon General of the United States.

    Why not?

  11. J
    Posted January 23, 2021 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Will there be a statue of “potato face” Charlie Kirk included at the Garden?

    • 12AX7
      Posted January 24, 2021 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Yes, down on all fours, too.

  12. John
    Posted January 23, 2021 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    “The list may as well have included the Hamburglar and Scooby-Doo.”

    Comedy gold. I did laugh a bit with that.

  13. SRP
    Posted January 23, 2021 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    The true America was designed and constructed by men of the West, for the exclusive benefit of men of the West. Such men were in the numerical majority in the America of 1787.

    The original American government was thus a true Democracy, i.e., a dictatorship of the numerical majority. In a true Democracy, minorities have no political power. The majority is the dictator.

    Now, a compelling case can be made: the true America began in 1787 and was usurped in 1861. It was a Democracy. After 1861, an ersatz America was installed, and became a Minocracy hostile to the spirit and letter of the true, original America of 1787.

    The current American government is thus illegitimate. It is a Minocracy, a coercive dictatorship of monied and self-defined aggrieved minorities in which the majority have been disposessed.

    All who would claim to be true Americans today, owe their allegiance only to the true, original America, and no allegiance to the current phony Minocratic America, or obedience to any laws or amendments made after 1861.

  14. Posted January 23, 2021 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    The founding stock was certainly not open to Indian marauders.

    Equally the more intelligent native Indians were rightly leery of Paleface invaders stealing their lands, breaking treaties and practically wiping them out. “Euros will not replace us!” would have been a sound motto for them to have adopted at a very early stage in the proceedings.

    In any case it is healthy and amusing to mock Trump’s saccharine efforts at historical revisionism. Well done!

  15. Josephus Cato
    Posted January 23, 2021 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Great article. Conservative Inc.’s kowtowing to MLK Jr. and calling Democrats the real racists is beyond comedy at this point. Trying to appropriate MLK Jr. as a conservative… it’s just too much, all the more so trying to throw someone like John Calhoun under the bus. The “racism” card is still powerful but I think it is beginning to lose its manna.

    The only hope conservatives have is something along the lines of Calhoun’s nullification. If Calhoun felt what he said about America being a polity of various majority and minority groups then true then it all the more so applies today. The Democrat party essentially exists as a coalition of various ethnic and sexual minorities, homeless people, welfare recipients and billionaires all allied against white people. I wonder if during a Biden presidency we could see something akin to a nullification crisis of 1832?

  16. J
    Posted January 24, 2021 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I heard Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, and Elmo were all getting statues, but not Oscar the grouch (he’s a white homeless guy).

  17. Bill Miller
    Posted January 24, 2021 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    As I read the excerpt I can make out the voice of happy horseshit Conservative, Inc., informing us that “America remains a nation that is at once diverse in its unity, and united in its diversity.”

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