Is America only for white people? The question stuck in my mind following yet another e-mail exchange with a friend of mine, regarding my conservatism. For this particular gentleman, being black in America is at odds with conservatism. As he put it:
“…Particularly as African-Americans, I feel we are in no real position to idealize the American experience and get too choked up about institutions and symbols that were not created with us in mind. Certainly, we cannot cast our lot with those who are actively seeking to destroy those gains we have made.”
I have a number of issues with the above statement, not the least of which is that the principles that inspired the American founding were always viewed as universal principles, which applied to all of mankind. Curiously, it wasn’t until the introduction of Historicist and Darwinian philosophy (which gave birth to Progressivism) that some Americans began to argue otherwise. And of course, I disagree that conservatives are actively seeking to destroy all of the gains black America has made.
It is important to note that the sentiments that my friend expresses are similar to the political attitudes which continue to permeate much of the black community. These same attitudes are also particularly present in the thinking of the black leftists, who have long held the conviction that the existence of slavery at our nation’s founding renders our Constitution a hollow document; the institutions and symbols that sprang from the founding were bereft of moral authority; the founders were hypocrites and liars, and the American dream is little more than a cruel myth.
From this conviction a kind of “cultural revolutionary defiance” has arisen, that is to say: black authenticity began to be increasingly measured by the degree to which black people defined themselves by way of their ethnicity, expressed anger at historical injuries, and were critical of, or rejected American symbols and institutions.
In this respect, my friend is a true new-revolutionary. But the issue he raises is not a new one, neither is it exclusive to American blacks.