“Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses…”

Conclusion of a column by David Brooks in The New York Times, February 3, 2017

der-spiegel-cover…The true American myth is dynamic and universal – embracing strangers and seizing possibilities. The Russian myth that Trump and Bannon have injected into the national bloodstream is static and insular. It is about building walls, staying put. Their country is bound by its nostalgia, not its common future.

The odd thing is that the Trump–Bannon myth is winning. The policies that emanate from it are surprisingly popular. The refugee ban has a lot of support. Closing off trade is popular. Building the wall is a winning issue.

The Trump and Bannon anschluss has exposed the hollowness of our patriotism. It has exposed how attenuated our vision of national greatness has become and how easy it was for Trump and Bannon to replace a youthful vision of American greatness with a reactionary, alien one.

We are in the midst of a great war of national identity. We thought we were in an ideological battle against radical Islam, but we are really fighting the national myths spread by Trump, Bannon, Putin, Le Pen and Farage.

We can argue about immigration and trade and foreign policy, but nothing will be right until we restore and revive the meaning of America. Are we still the purpose-driven experiment Lincoln described and Emma Lazarus wrote about: assigned by providence to spread democracy and prosperity; to welcome the stranger; to be brother and sister to the whole human race; and to look after one another because we are all important in this common project?

Or are we just another nation, hunkered down in a fearful world?

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2 responses to ““Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses…”

  1. Is there solid evidence that “The True American Myth” was ever popular in the industrialized United States? During the Great Migration were even American citizens who were from the south welcome by white workers in the north?

  2. “We thought we were in an ideological battle against radical Islam, but we are really fighting the national myths spread by Trump, Bannon, Putin, Le Pen and Farage.” It has always been a battle for the hearts and minds of Americans in “the heartland” (insert your definition here), but the “true myth” was always kept alive by official government policies toward immigration and “rule of law” deportations. If Executive Orders are upheld and expanded, this truly would represent a paradigm shift.