american tradition

so Jon Stewart hosted Bill O'Reilly on the Daily Show the other night. hmmm...think there were a few disagreements?

but the one that caught my ear the most was the two of them talking about the traditions that define the US. check it out:


and, surprise surprise, i disagree with both of them. first off, i don't think we're a "center-right" nation. secondly, i don't think that our tradition is defined by a "progression of individual freedoms."

beyond that, i often hear people, especially Christians, contend that our nation was founded (and thus its traditions begun) on Biblically rooted Christianity.

but with all of these i disagree. the tradition of the US includes the violent overthrow of a people already established on the land we happened upon (Native Americans). the tradition of the US includes the violent exploitation of a variety of ethnic backgrounds (African slavery from our founding through the 19th century, child slavery in our factories during the Industrial Revolution). the tradition of the US includes the suppression of countless voices through lack of voting rights until centuries after our country began.

the words that our country was founded on ("that all men are created equal") differed greatly from the actions that have been taken by our country.

this isn't to say that the US has not come a long way or accomplished great things along the way in terms of extending freedom and ending oppression. however, we need to be careful when we cite the "great history of our nation" that we don't forget the total history of our nation, which includes deeds both great and terrible, noble and ignoble. and i, for one, would prefer to work toward a brighter future while learning from our whole history than trying to recreate our history today.