Jon Meacham and Michael Beschloss talk about the White House comments on the Statue of Liberty. Beschloss compares it to separating the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Duration: 6:40
You can watch the video there. It’s rather hilarious.
Prof. Jon Meacham: “I don’t think you could celebrate liberty without celebrating immigration. We are in fact a nation, almost entirely, of immigrants.” …
Brian Williams (of all people): “Michael, when has Truth been doubted before, the way it has been doubted under this Administration by enormous segments of society?”
Prof. Michael Bechloss: “I think never in the history of the Presidency, I think it’s pretty fair to say that. And even what we saw with Mr. Miller was an example of that. His saying that the poem doesn’t count because it was put on later, you know, it’s sort of like the Bill of Rights was ratified four years after the Constitution, so Bill of Rights isn’t very important either.”
Uh … I guess I must have dozed through the history class when we discussed how Emma Lazarus’s poem was ratified by two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress and then by three-fourths of the states.
From today’s press conference given by Trump domestic policy advisor and speechwriter Stephen Miller with Jim Acosta, who looks kind of like George Clooney’s dad, but who is officially Diverse due to his precious Conquistador-American ancestry.
The Library of Congress’s main building is one of the most magnificent buildings in Washington, or in the country. It was built in a pivotal, tumultuous time. During the 23 years in the late 19th century that it took to design and build the structure, industrialization transformed America. More people immigrated to America than in the previous 250 years combined. …
In that story, America is placed at the vanguard of the great human march of progress. America is the grateful inheritor of other people’s gifts. It has a spiritual connection to all people in all places, but also an exceptional role. America culminates history. It advances a way of life and a democratic model that will provide people everywhere with dignity. The things Americans do are not for themselves only, but for all mankind.
This historical story was America’s true myth. … It gave America a mission in the world — to spread democracy and freedom.
Admittedly, John Quincy Adams, who knew all the Founding Fathers from Franklin onward, said on July 4, 1821:
Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will recommend the general cause, by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.
She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself, beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. The frontlet upon her brows would no longer beam with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence; but in its stead would soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished lustre the murky radiance of dominion and power. She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit. …
But JQA’s viciously Czarist rant is not who we are. JQA was America’s first minister to Russia, so, obviously, he was subverted there. Here’s photographic proof that JQA, long before Trump, was the original Siberian Candidate:
In defense of JQA, however, he never had a chance to see Fiddler on the Roof to learn the True Meaning of America. But what’s Trump’s excuse?
It gave us an attitude of welcome and graciousness, to embrace the huddled masses yearning to breathe free and to give them the scope by which to realize their powers.
The Zeroth Amendment requires us to be Huddled Masochists. It’s who we are.
But now the myth has been battered. …
And so along come men like Donald Trump and Stephen Bannon with a countermyth. Their myth is an alien myth, frankly a Russian myth. It holds, as Russian reactionaries hold, that deep in the heartland are the pure folk who embody the pure soul of the country — who endure the suffering and make the bread. But the pure peasant soul is threatened.
This alien Russian myth was made up by the notorious Czar Thomas the Jefferson.
It is threatened by the cosmopolitan elites and by the corruption of foreign influence.
Similarly, Czar George the Washington wrote in his notoriously virulent Farewell Address, with help from Grand Duke Alexander the Hamilton:
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.
Back to Brooks:
The true American myth is dynamic and universal — embracing strangers and seizing possibilities. The Russian myth that Trump and Bannon have injected into the national bloodstream is static and insular. It is about building walls, staying put. Their country is bound by its nostalgia, not its common future.
The odd thing is that the Trump-Bannon myth is winning. The policies that emanate from it are surprisingly popular. The refugee ban has a lot of support. Closing off trade is popular. Building the wall is a winning issue.
The Trump and Bannon anschluss has exposed the hollowness of our patriotism.
“Anschluss” … I thought Trump and Bannon were Russians, not Germans. It’s hard to keep up …
It has exposed how attenuated our vision of national greatness has become and how easy it was for Trump and Bannon to replace a youthful vision of American greatness with a reactionary, alien one.
We are in the midst of a great war of national identity. We thought we were in an ideological battle against radical Islam, but we are really fighting the national myths spread by Trump, Bannon, Putin, Le Pen and Farage.
We can argue about immigration and trade and foreign policy, but nothing will be right until we restore and revive the meaning of America. Are we still the purpose-driven experiment
As described in The Federalist Papers by founding father Rick Warren
Most famously in his Gettysburg Address:
Four score and seven years ago our Proposition Generators brought forth on this continent, a new idea, conceived in immigration, and dedicated to the proposition that all imperialism is good:
Invade the World! Invite the World!
and Emma Lazarus
Founding Mother and authoress of the Zeroth Amendment in the Bill of Rights: “If anybody anywhere wants to move to America, you can’t stop them or even look at them funny because that would be racist, you racist.”
wrote about: assigned by providence to spread democracy and prosperity; to welcome the stranger; to be brother and sister to the whole human race; and to look after one another because we are all important in this common project?
Rare color photo of Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address (slightly retouched)
Or are we just another nation, hunkered down in a fearful world?
Do you ever get the impression that David Brooks sometimes draws his inspiration for his columns by reading the latest satires on iSteve and then crafting the Platonic Essence of whatever thinking I had just parodied?
The Western world has had relatively few national leaders who were unambiguously 100% Jewish in ancestry, upbringing, religion, and ethnic identification. The American presidency, for example, remains remarkably WASP-dominated.
But going back to Queen Victoria’s favorite prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, who identified strongly as a racial Jew while espousing Anglicanism as his religion, there has been a growth in the number of national leaders who have some claim to being at least a little bit Jewish. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is representative of this broad trend: one of Sarkozy’s four grandparents was Jewish (he was raised in that grandfather’s house, and was closest to him).
As time goes by and there are more products of mixed marriages, a larger fraction of national leaders seem to have some Jewish roots. My impression is that in the 21st Century, part Jewish national leaders tend to be found more right-of-center than left-of-center, but I could be wrong about this.
An even fuzzier example than Sarkozy is the new Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Turnbull, who deposed Tony Abbott as Australia’s premier on Monday, claimed in 2013 that he may have Jewish roots and has long been a staple at Jewish community functions.
Dan Goldberg Sep 17, 2015 12:02 AM
It was a balmy summer’s night in late February as a throng of Jewish guests gathered at a prestigious yacht club in one of Sydney’s most exclusive harbor-side suburbs. … it was Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull who stole the show.
His off-the-cuff speech was vintage Turnbull: charismatic, witty, and, as always, audience appropriate – in this case, with lashings of Hebrew and Yiddish.
“As you all know it’s a standard blessing when somebody celebrates a birthday … to say ‘Biz hundert un tsvantsik,’ which means for those whose Yiddish is not up to scratch, ‘May you live to 120’,” Turnbull said.
The audience lapped it up. He was holding court inside his own electorate of Wentworth, home to the largest Jewish population in Sydney. And he was speaking just down the road from his $50-million waterside mansion in Point Piper, a stone’s throw from shopping-mall mogul Frank Lowy and a coterie of Sydney Jewry’s A-list, many of whom Turnbull befriended.
“My birthday message to the Jewish News today is ‘Biz zvai hundert un fufzik – so that’s 250 years,” Turnbull quipped, before signing off with some Hebrew: “Kol Hakavod [congratulations] on this great achievement and I look forward to many, many more issues of the Australian Jewish News.”
The following morning the Sydney Morning Herald reported on the function, stating: “The event followed reports than Mr. Turnbull now has sufficient numbers to mount a challenge to Mr Abbott in the Liberal Party room.”
Fast forward seven months. On Monday night Turnbull, who claimed in 2013 that he may have Jewish roots, finally deposed his more conservative rival in a surprise coup. …
Turnbull, 60, was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford before successful stints as a journalist, barrister, merchant banker and tech entrepreneur. He first won his seat for the Liberal Party in 2004, and is a progressive who supports gay marriage and an Australian republic.
His net worth was estimated by Business Review Weekly at $186 million in 2010. Now he has the keys to the prime minister’s residences at Kirribilli House in Sydney and The Lodge in Canberra, which some media outlets have noted may resemble a downgrade in his lavish lifestyle.
His first major task will be to name his ministers. Josh Frydenberg, the sole Jewish MP inside the government, was an Abbott loyalist and, as parliamentary secretary to the PM, had little choice but to back his former boss. But some have speculated he may not be sacrificed when Turnbull declares his new frontbench this weekend.
Ironically, this week’s political drama was played out as most of the nation’s 110,000-plus Jews were celebrating Rosh Hashanah.
“There was a real buzz and an air of excitement,” Central Synagogue’s Rabbi Levi Wolff told Haaretz. “He’s a very, very dear friend and someone who has a huge amount of support from the community. He really does have an understanding and knowledge of Judaism that probably the average congregant doesn’t have.
“In my shul, he’s referred to as Moishe Turnbull.”
But a senior Jewish leader, who declined to be named, told Haaretz: “The rabbi gave him a huge rap in shul, as our very own Jewish PM – it’s bullshit,” he said.
The source, an associate of Turnbull, added: “I don’t think it’s in his interests to play his Jewish roots up. I don’t think it’s a line that should be pushed. He wasn’t brought up Jewish and hasn’t established connections with Jews because of his roots.”
A practicing Catholic, Turnbull claimed in 2013 he may have Jewish roots. “My mother always used to say that her mother’s family was Jewish,” he told the Australian Jewish News.
“There is no doubt that the strong traditions of family and the whole heimishe [homely] atmosphere of the Jewish community, which I’m sure some people don’t like, for me – as someone who is a good friend, but not part of it – I find very admirable.”
Turnbull last visited Israel in 2005, and has long admired Israel’s hi-tech innovation, dubbed Silicon Wadi, conceding that Australia was unlikely to catch up with Israel. “I don’t know that anyone can replicate the secret chicken soup of Israel,” he told the Australian BRW magazine in 2013.
A crucial policy issue for the future of Australia is preventing more Camp of the Saints flashmobs from influxing into the country, as is currently happening in Europe, and was happening under the previous leftwing government. The conservative PM whom Turnbull deposed, Tony Abbott, did a good job of building a humane but highly effective naval blockade to prevent illegal immigrants from coming to Australia by boat.
Australia in recent months has been a light unto the nations.
Nobody, however, seems all that sure what the new PM will do about that. Presumably, it’s not a big priority for him one way or another.
It would be tragic for the citizens of Australia if some cloakroom politics like this over other issues led, in a fit of absentmindedness, to a massive Camp of the Saints.
One reason to worry that Turnbull, a former managing director of Goldman Sachs in Australia, would be inclined to err in the direction of making Merkel’s Boner is because, coming from a fairly Jewish cultural environment in his wealthy home constituency, he’s likely to have been exposed to a lot of unthinking schmaltz about the glories of mass migrations into gentile nations.
That kind of lowbrow ethnocentric sentimentality shouldn’t be a major problem for setting national policy, except … that nobody is supposed to critique and satirize, or even notice, Jewish biases.
So, a lot of important people who haven’t thought hard about immigration policy assume that all this stuff you hear all the time about “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses” really is the Unquestionable Wisdom of the Ages instead of just being a simpleminded, obviously self-interested schtick that deserves eye-rolls and snickers rather than credulous respect.
Here’s a rare example of somebody with enough self-confidence on the ethnic front to make fun of today’s Reigning Schmaltz:
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