Yale Professor's Impassioned Plea for American Exceptionalism

Yale Professor's Impassioned Plea for American Exceptionalism

In an eloquent, heartfelt and powerful op-ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal titled “What is the American Creed,” David Gelernter, a professor of computer science at Yale, delineates the ideas that distinguish American exceptionalism and exactly how they are abused and neglected today. 

Gelernter starts form the premise that not enough Americans know what their birthright as Americans entails and others know but feel that that the ideas stemming from that birthright are antiquated:

Who are we? What is the United States? Recently Gov. Mitt Romney urged us to return to “the principles that made America, America.” But too many of us don’t know what those are, or think they can’t work.

Starting from the age when ignorance of American ideals is inculcated, Gelernter writes:

Almost no one believes that our public schools are doing a passable job of teaching American and Western civilization. Modern humanities education starts from the bizarre premise that students must be cured of the Europe-centered, misogynist, bigoted ideas of the past. Many American children have never heard a good word for the United States, the West, Judaism or Christianity their whole lives.

Who are we? Dawdling time is over. We have failed a whole generation of children. As of fall 2012, let all public schools be charter schools, competing for each tax dollar and student with every other school in the country.

Gelernter then takes on the issue of using racism to divide us:

We are a nation of equal citizens, not of races or privileged cliques. Affirmative action has always been a misfit in this country. A system that elevates individuals because of the color of their skin, their race or their sex has no place in America. Yet a boy born yesterday is destined to atone (if he happens to be the wrong color) for prejudice against black women 50 years ago. Modern America is a world where a future Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor, can say publicly in 2001, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [on the bench] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Finally Gelernter attacks the idea that a cadre of intellectuals know better what is good for the American people than the people themselves:

Modern American culture is in the hands of intellectuals–unfortunates born with high IQ and low common sense. Witness ObamaCare, a health-care policy, now somehow deemed constitutional, that forces millions of Americans to buy something they don’t want.

Gelernter concludes without flinching by laying the blame where it belongs:

America’s creed is blessedly simple. Freedom, equality, democracy and America as the promised land, the new Jerusalem. What Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he invoked “the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life.”

President Obama rejects this creed. He doesn’t buy the city-on-a-hill stuff. He sees particular nations as a blur; only the global community is big enough for him. He is at home on the exalted level of whole races and peoples and the vast, paternal power of central governments.