Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told CBS This Morning on Wednesday that the United States of America is a country where the few oppress the many, and that it has always been that way, and always will be.
“I think America has always been a story, and America has always been about the triumph of people who fight for everyone versus those who want to preserve rights for just a select few, and there is no bottom to the barrel of vitriol that will be used and weaponized to stifle those who want to advance rights for all people in in the the United States,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Ocasio-Cortez was explaining how she, and the other members of the so-called “Squad” who appeared with her — Reps. Ilan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) — felt when President Donald Trump criticized them. But her response, however defiant, confirmed the president’s point: they seem not to like the country.
The Squad’s view of history is narrow and wrong. But it has become the standard view with which our students are indoctrinated, thanks to the influence of revisionist texts like Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, and the leftward drift of American academia.
“I find their ignorance to be beyond belief about American history,” said Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, last week — before Trump’s tweets.
There is, of course, a kernel of truth to the Squad’s view. Over time, the U.S. has extended rights to more and more Americans — sometimes through difficult political struggle, and even civil war. Yet that is a positive story, one that affirms the greatness of the country’s founding principles and the moral courage of its people. The Squad’s version is that no matter how far we have come, the “few” still remain; we continue to fail to live up to our founding values.
Contrast that attitude with the story President Trump told during his “Salute to America” speech on July 4 — the speech that Democrats tried to prevent him from making and are now investigating for some sign of fault.
Trump, speaking from the Lincoln Memorial, said the story of America is “one of the greatest stories ever told … the epic tale of a great nation whose people have risked everything for what they know is right and what they know is true.”
He added: “Devotion to our founding ideals led American patriots to abolish the evil of slavery, secure civil rights, and expand the blessings of liberty to all Americans.”
Later, he said: “Throughout our history, our country has been made ever greater by citizens who risked it all for equality and justice.” He acknowledged the movement for women’s suffrage, and recognized Clarence Henderson, who led the famous sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960.
Trump’s version of events noted America’s flaws. But it also allowed room for reconciliation, and growth — for “rededicat[ion]” to the country’s founding principles.
He also saw America’s story as far more than a history of internal struggle. He recounted the country’s contributions to the world in every field of endeavor — a nation that has “liberated continents, split the atom, and brought tyrants and empires to their knees,” even when imperfect at home.
The Squad likens Trump’s immigration policies to the Nazi concentration camp, the worst evil in human history. But they cannot explain why anyone would want to cross thousands of miles and surrender, often voluntarily, to Border Patrol, if America were so terrible.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Squad look at America and see what it is not, and may never be. Trump looks at America and sees what it is, and what it could become. That is the key difference.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.