In normal times, Victor Davis Hansen agreed, talking about America's founding wouldn't be controversial. But these are not normal times. And the fierce reaction to President Trump's 1776 project proves it.
After four years of waiting to get their hands on the Oval Office, Democrats could have chosen any number of priorities to kick off Joe Biden's first day. Yet, despite the pandemic, the turmoil, the global uncertainty, how did the new administration spend its afternoon? Reinstating transgender bathrooms and erasing the facts on U.S. history. It was a telling moment for the new president, who decided that scrubbing the truth about America's foundation was more important than even reinstating overseas abortion funding. Why? Because he knows that a generation who knew America's true roots wouldn't tolerate what's happening in the media and Left today.
If people actually read the report from the 1776 Commission released Monday -- instead of taking MSNBC's word for it -- they'd realize that their findings aren't "laughable." On the contrary, they might be the one roadmap to unity no liberal seems interested in taking. After all, this was a group of historians, lawyers, academics, scholars, authors, former elected officials, and former public servants. Their task, the Heritage Foundation's Michael Gonzalez said, was simple: creating a report that would "better enable a rising generation to understand the history and principles of the founding of the United States in 1776." Right now, Gonzalez argued, the Left "is seeking to change the future of America by changing our understanding of the past."
"Yes, America is imperfect," Hansen said. "And also great." Nothing about the Commission's report "whitewashed... the many injustices after 1776 and 1787" -- including slavery. "Instead," Hansen pointed out, "the commission explains why and how these wrongs were inconsistent with the letter and spirit of our founding documents." But it also points out that "using race, ethnicity, sexual preference, and gender to define who we are -- rather than seeing these traits as incidental when compared with our natural and shared humanity -- will lead to a dangerous fragmentation of American society."
But unfortunately for Americans, the Left needs fragmentation to accomplish what it wants: a complete departure from the moral and transcendent truth that built democracy. They don't want healing or unity -- not really. As Dr. Carol Swain, one of the members of the Commission, told me on "Washington Watch," "What the Left is doing to us right now [through censorship and other blacklisting] would not be tolerated if people actually knew how our nation was founded, what it's about, and what people have lived and died for all of these centuries."
Being proud of our country doesn't mean we excuse slavery or racism or any number of blights on our country. And, as Victor says, the Commission doesn't suggest "that civic education and American history should ignore or contextualize past national shortcomings." But those wrongs shouldn't define America, it should only make us strive harder for the ideals of our founding.
That's difficult, of course, in a nation where most students know nothing about them. And that's by design. The Left doesn't want to have an honest conversation about America's history -- or any conversation, really. The days of classic liberals protecting and encouraging debate are over. The facts aren't on the side of their progressive agenda -- so they want to silence our side. And our side is anchored in the same truths that America was founded upon -- truths the radicals don't want our young people to know, because they're much harder to brainwash after.
"Without our common faith in the equal right of every individual American to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, authoritarian visions of government and society could become increasingly alluring alternatives to self-government based on the consent of the people," President Trump wrote when he formed the commission.
For years, too many parents have left it up to the public schools to teach their children a love and respect for America. Now, more than ever, it's obvious: that job is ours and ours alone. We cannot abandon it.