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.
Their advocacy of multiculturalism and opposition to declaring English the national language are proof that the calls of the left-wing supporters of Barack Obama for American unity are one or more of three things: 1. A call for all Americans to agree with them and become fellow leftists. 2. A nice-sounding cover for their left-wing policies. 3. A way to further their demonizing of the Bush administration as "divisive."
In case the reader should dismiss these observations about calls for unity as political partisanship, let me make clear that they are equally applicable to calls for religious unity. For example, one regularly hears calls by many Christians for Christian unity. But how exactly will this be achieved? Will Catholics stop believing in their catechism and embrace Protestant theology, or will Protestants begin to regard the pope Christ's vicar on earth?
Ironically, one reason America became the freest country in the world was thanks to its being founded by disunited Christians -- all those Protestant denominations had to figure out a way to live together and make a nation.
Given what Sen. Obama's calls for unity really mean -- let's all go left -- it is no wonder he and his calls for unity are enthusiastically embraced by the liberal media.
For nearly eight years the media and Democrats have labeled President Bush's policies "divisive" simply because they don't agree with them. They are not one whit more divisive than Sen. Obama's positions. A question for Democrats, the media and other Obama supporters: How exactly are Mr. Obama's left-wing political positions any less "divisive" than President Bush's right-wing positions?
Second, the craving for unity is frequently childish. As we mature we understand that decent people will differ politically and theologically. The mature yearn for unity only on a handful of fundamental values, such as: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Beyond such basics, we yearn for civil discourse and tolerance, not unity.
The next time Sen. Obama speaks with his usual passion and eloquence about his desire to unite Americans, someone must ask him two questions: Why are your left-wing positions any less divisive than President Bush's right-wing positions? And if you are so committed to uniting Americans, why did you vote against declaring English our national, i.e., our unifying, language? Without compelling answers, Sen. Obama's calls for American unity are no more than calls to unite around his politics and him.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”