We are repeatedly told by the news media that there is a deep, almost palpable, yearning among Americans for unity. And Sen. Barack Obama's repeated and eloquent claims to being able to unite Americans are a major reason for his present, and very possibly eventual, success in his quest for his party's nomination for president of the United States.
I do not doubt Mr. Obama's sincerity. The wish that all people be united is an elemental human desire. But there are two major problems with it. First, it is not truly honest. Second, it is childish.
First is its dishonesty. Virtually all calls for unity -- whether national, international or religious (as in calls for Christian unity) -- do not tell the whole truth.
If those who call for unity told the whole truth, this is what they would say: "I want everyone to unite -- behind my values. I want everyone who disagrees with me to change the way they think so that we can all be united. I myself have no plans to change my positions on any important issues in order to achieve this unity. So in order to achieve it, I assume that all of you who differ with me will change your views and values and embrace mine."
Take any important issue that divides Americans and explain exactly how unity can be achieved without one of the two sides giving up its values and embracing the other side's values.
Barack Obama wants American troops out of Iraq now. About half of America believes that American troops abandoning Iraq will lead to making that country the world's center of terror and to the greatest victory thus far for the greatest organized evil in the world today. How, then, will Mr. Obama achieve unity on Iraq?
Mr. Obama believes in repealing the tax cuts enacted by the Bush administration. How will he achieve unity on that? Many of us believe that re-raising taxes will bring on a recession.
And what is the "unity" position on same-sex marriage? Either one supports it or one supports keeping marriage defined as the legal union of a man and a woman. The only way to unite Americans on this issue -- and I don't know what is more seminal to civilization than its definition of marriage -- is to convince all, or at least most, Americans to embrace one of the two positions.
It is fascinating how little introspection Sen. Obama's "unity" supporters engage in -- they are usually the very people who most forcefully advocate multiculturalism, who scoff at the idea of an American melting pot and who oppose something as basic to American unity as declaring English the country's national language.