National character

Sean Wilentz writes one of the best New York Times opinion pieces I’ve read, addressing an issue often referred to as America’s “Original Sin:”

…the myth that the United States was founded on racial slavery persists, notably among scholars and activists on the left who are rightly angry at America’s racist past. The myth, ironically, has led advocates for social justice to reject Lincoln’s and Douglass’s view of the Constitution in favor of Calhoun’s. And now the myth threatens to poison the current presidential campaign. The United States, Bernie Sanders has charged, “in many ways was created, and I’m sorry to have to say this, from way back, on racist principles, that’s a fact.”

But as far as the nation’s founding is concerned, it is not a fact, as Lincoln and Douglass explained. It is one of the most destructive falsehoods in all of American history.

When I read this, it brought me back a few years to something I wrote at The Huffington Post: “I’m a red blooded American proud of every part of our nation’s rise and from this love more than willing to speak candidly about its past and present failures. Not sins, but failures. Only people, not nations, can sin. I think we need to love before we can claim the clout to start hurling bromides.”

Anyway, if you’re of the Sanders mentality, read Wilentz’s entire piece in order to really get the complete lay of the land.