by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
American historiography?—?the writing of our history?—?has never been a more hotly contested political battleground than it is today. The left, for many of whom the motto is “the more radical and inflammatory, the better,” has seized the high ground and now pretty well dictates the terms on which the conflict is waged. Conservatives, outmanned and outgunned, are reactionary of necessity, as they tend to be by their very nature, taking their punishment as they must and returning fire fiercely but sporadically. By the sheer massing of forces in every institution shaping public opinion about our nation’s past?—?in elite universities and lowly grade schools, in highbrow and middlebrow literature, and in politics, television, movies, newspapers, and magazines?—?the left looks to be carrying the day.
The honorable opposition may be gallant and spirited (and not incidentally have truth on its side), but it is losing; the American story most countrymen tell themselves is fast becoming one of an illegitimate founding, systemic race-based hatred, irremediable wrongdoing on the part of once-revered statesmen and soldiers, economic exploitation of the many by the few, and the ravaging of once-pristine nature by businessmen heedless of any good but their own profit. America, in sum, with little to be proud of and everything to its shame, has habitually violated the tenets of its political creed?—?its professed belief in freedom and equality?—?and never possessed rightful title to its vaunted exceptionalism, which amounts to so much hypocrisy and braggadocio. Not only are we not better than most people; we are, in fact, among the worst. The sooner we are all made to realize our own viciousness and inherited guilt, the better off we will be.
Accordingly, accounts of American heroism or nobility are stuffed down the memory hole. The only history acceptable is of profound evil transmitted down the generations.