American Identity Crisis: Who are We and Who is Obama? October 22, 2008Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, civilization, Constitution, Declaration of Independence, moral relativism, multiculturalism, United States.
Tags: American identity, cultural relativism
By Prof. Paul Eidelberg
Senator Barack Obama personifies an American identity crisis, a crisis also evident among the nations of Europe (to say nothing of Israel).
In Obama we behold a man whose origin and religious faith are mysterious, a man whose patriotism has been placed in question. I do not mention this to disparage Senator Obama, but rather to indicate that America itself and its future have become fearfully problematic.
Professor Samuel Huntington, an eminent political scientist, recently wrote a book entitled Who Are We? The title is both fitting and ironic. Huntington sees in America the ascendancy of multiculturalism, which cannot but erode any clear sense of national identity among American citizens. But Huntington himself is steeped in multiculturalism, since he is a cultural relativist—a far throw from his ancestor, the Samuel Huntington who signed America’s Declaration of Independence.
As a cultural relativist, Huntington cannot affirm “the self-evident truths” affirmed in that Declaration, the truths which America’s Founding Fathers derived from “laws of nature and nature’s God.” Such truths transcend space and time. They transcend “culture” and reject cultural relativism.
Indeed, the Declaration of Independence affirms a Higher Law in terms of which one can judge whether any culture, as well as any government, is good or bad or conducive to human excellence.
Huntington is also the celebrated author of The Clash of Civilizations. He wants to preserve Western civilization. But having relegated the “laws of nature and of nature’s God” to the dust heap of history, Huntington has no rational grounds for preferring Western civilization to its mortal enemy, Islamic civilization.
Is it any wonder that the government of the United States has refrained from identifying its mortal enemy? So pervasive is the influence of cultural relativism in America that even the otherwise intrepid Daniel Pipes cannot bring himself to saying, what has been said by Syrian-born psychiatrist Wafa Sultan and Lebanese-born author Brigitte Gabriel, namely, that America’s enemy is Islam pure and simple, and not merely some Islamofascists who have hijacked that religion.
These courageous women are now American citizens. They must be shocked by the extent to which anti-Americanism pervades “higher education” in the United States. According to David Horowitz (see his The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America), the ratio of liberal leftists to conservatives in the faculties of American universities is 10:1. At Berkeley the ratio is 30:1!!! This suggests that most American academics are indoctrinating students or insulating them from serious study of America’s political heritage and its relevance to contemporary issues.
Judging from my own experience as a professor and researcher, most American students have only a superficial if not distorted knowledge of the Declaration of Independence and of the great statesmen who drafted the American Constitution. They have no solid standards by which to examine critically the current presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties, and no systematic body of ideas by which to understand the fundamental issues of the forthcoming election.
If Senator Obama is an “empty suit,” perhaps the emptiness is the result of his having been miseducated at Columbia University and Harvard, where so many academics incline to the negativism of the New Left—an amalgam of the Marxist rejection of capitalism and the existentialist rejection of bourgeois values.
Whereas Marxism calls for radical change on the level of the State—YES WE CAN!— existentialism calls for radical change on the level of the individual. With Jean Paul Sartre, existentialism calls for “authenticity,” where the individual chooses his own lifestyle or “narrative.” This is a doctrine of moral relativism.
Clearly, Obama is far removed from the natural law teaching of the Declaration of Independence, as well as from the idea of limited government embodied in the American Constitution. This may explain why Obama is deemed an “empty suit,” or, as many say, a left-wing media candidate. What else can he be parading under the banner of CHANGE?
Viewed in this light, the question of Huntington’s book, “Who Are We?” is the fundamental but unstated issue of the 2008 presidential election. Pity that Senator John McCain is not intellectually well-equipped to articulate this issue, or to show how his opponent’s radical left-wing orientation constitutes a rejection of the American political tradition, as witness his 20-year attendance at the Church of his mentor, the “God-damn-America” Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
If my assessment is correct, then the 2008 presidential election may well be the counterpart of America’s 1860 election. Then, too, the question was, “Who Are We?” This is how the election was seen by Abraham Lincoln. As Lincoln so deeply understood, at stake in that election was not only the issue of slavery, but America’s ancient faith, the Declaration of Independence. As we all know, the 1860 election precipitated the Civil War.
So here I will ask not “Who Are We? but “Where Are We?” As I ponder the Islamization and decline of Europe, and as I worry about the emergence of Iran as a superpower positioned to control the flow of Persian Gulf oil and, therewith, the world’s economy, I wonder whether the 2008 presidential election will hasten or check the Islamization and decline of America.
Senator Obama may be an “empty suit.” If so, all the more reason to fear, even more than the downturn of the American economy, the intellectual bankruptcy of the American presidential election campaign, a campaign that cannot but make serious Americans wonder: “Who Are We?”
Prof. Paul Eidelberg is founder and president of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy. In 1976, he joined the faculty of Bar-Ilan University where he taught political science. Before that time, he served as first lieutenant in the United States Air Force, and earned his doctoral degree at the University of Chicago, and wrote a trilogy on America’s founding fathers: The Philosophy of the American Constitution, On the Silence of the Declaration of Independence, and a Discourse on Statesmanship. Since then, he has written over 1,000 articles, policy papers, and books on Israeli, European, and American politics.