In one day, The New York Times called for the cancellation of Mount Rushmore and compared the United States to Nazi Germany. You read that right—as most Americans prepare for the Fourth of July weekend, the gray lady seems hellbent on dismantling the country by churning out sophomoric hot takes that would make even Brian Stelter blush.
NYT tweeted out the following in promotion of an article highlighting the history of Mount Rushmore:
The article detailing the sullied history of the Mount Rushmore monument suffers from precisely the same kind of omissions that spurred the paper to embark upon their 1619 Project. That project was meant to fill in the blanks on American history, to add context that is not found in history books. What it has done, however, is replace one half-told story of American history with another half-told story.
The New York Times, in its story of Mount Rushmore’s racist, land-grabbing ways, only tells half the tale. This new trend of history telling is one in which we are meant to narrate our nation’s past looking at the missteps and failures only. We are meant to mitigate our successes fully by focussing so fully on our shortcomings that they outweigh any good our nation has done.
Thankfully, level-headed people were quick to point out the foolishness of the attempted Rushmore cancellation. Mark Hemingway wrote: "The New York Times newsroom is located on land 'purchased' from Native Americans for a handful of beads." And of course, that's exactly correct.
The US doesn’t suck, but The New York Times’ current woke imperative is to convince you that it does. Americans have worked long and hard for our country’s achievements, and we deserve to celebrate them. When every accomplishment is met with a sour face and a “yeah, but” it’s hard to take any positive action. If we are meant to look at our nation as nothing but a series of screw-ups, how are we supposed to have the confidence to continue looking forward with a full heart toward the promise of a greater future?
In The New York Times other “Dear John” letter to America today, Isabel Wilkerson takes nearly 12,000 words to justify her supposition that America has a caste system. Not a class system, which is something that would be more of an informal delineation in society, where people move between the classes based primarily on economic factors, but a caste system, which is organized, legally sanctioned, official prejudice.
Wilkerson writes: “Throughout human history, three caste systems have stood out. The lingering, millenniums-long caste system of India. The tragically accelerated, chilling and officially vanquished caste system of Nazi Germany. And the shape-shifting, unspoken, race-based caste pyramid in the United States. Each version relied on stigmatizing those deemed inferior to justify the dehumanization necessary to keep the lowest-ranked people at the bottom and to rationalize the protocols of enforcement. A caste system endures because it is often justified as divine will, originating from sacred text or the presumed laws of nature, reinforced throughout the culture and passed down through the generations.”
The caste system in India classifies those in the lowest caste as less than other people by law. It is not just individuals who bear animosity based on identity, but it is codified in legislation. The US has overturned, rewritten, and forbidden any law that treats a person differently or lesser or better based on identity. We are all equal under the law (as much as identity politicians at the NYT would like to change that). In cases where the law is improperly applied, we have the right to a redress of grievances.
Nazi Germany was a brutal dictatorship where human beings were butchered because of their identity. The nation most similar to this today is China, with their suppression, reeducation, and imprisonment of the Uyghur minority. One could also point to the human-rights suppressing laws just passed in China for the territory of Hong Kong. In the US, we make mistakes, but we try to remedy them, and when we screw up, we try again. We fail better.
Wilkerson writes that the application of a caste “...embeds into our bones an unconscious ranking of human characteristics and sets forth the rules, expectations and stereotypes that have been used to justify brutalities against entire groups within our species.”
No, prejudice does not exist in our bones.
Wilkerson brings up the biological fact of equality, stating that “...in recent decades, we have learned from the human genome that all human beings are 99.9 percent the same.” She quotes J. Craig Venter, who handled the genome sequencing in 2000, who said “Race is a social concept, not a scientific one.”
We know this in the US. No one is better or worse than anyone else as a result of their identity. No one is more or less valued under law. That is the basis of our entire society. We have to own our mistakes, and surely, most definitely, we do. But we also must own our successes. They are ours and we have earned them. We must never be driven by failure alone.
There is no nation in the world that can boast the individual freedoms that America affords to its citizens. The project of the NYT right now is to gaslight you into thinking that these freedoms should be traded in for some sort of intersectional hierarchy in which those whose ancestors have been historically marginalized now get special treatment.
Americans must always reject this kind of historically illiterate overcorrection. The promise of America is equality under the law, and that promise must never be broken. It’s what makes the country great, and it’s what we must preserve if we are to survive this frantic, paranoid, and deeply perilous cultural moment.