Will America remain the ‘one nation’ of our pledge?
By Bill Connor
This past Independence Day, journalist Paige Kieffer of a local ABC affiliate penned the column “Diversity is What Makes America Great” and described America as “people of many different nationalities, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religions and backgrounds” Kieffer’s thoughts about American identity and greatness being rooted almost exclusively in “diversity” are in line with most modern progressive leaders. On July 14, 2019, Joe Biden claimed “America’s strength is and has always been rooted in our diversity.” Days later, Michelle Obama repeated the mantra of her husband Barack Obama in claiming “Diversity truly makes America great.” In 2021, the United States State Department published the video “America’s Diversity is the strength of our nation.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykOvSYW_lAk.
The mainstream media, repeating the progressive party line, continuously “reminds” Americans that American identity and greatness is solely due to diversity. Any disagreement with that party line can bring the stigma of “racist,” and so few question it. Without diminishing the positive good of diversity, it’s time to ponder whether we will remain the “one nation, under God” (Pledge of Allegiance) continuing this party line. History tells us it will not end well. Let me explain.
First, the founders were clear about the importance of unity for America to work. According to George Washington, immigrants must be quickly “assimilated to our customs, measures, and laws, in a word, soon become our people” for the nation to thrive.
https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-17-02-0112 Alexander Hamilton similarly wrote, “The safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias and prejudice; and on that love of country.”
https://www.azquotes.com/quote/938997 John Quincy Adams exhorted immigrants “must cast off the European skin, never to resume it. They must look forward to their posterity rather than backward to their ancestors.” In the early 20th-century period amid substantial immigration, President Theodore Roosevelt warned of the doom of the nation “to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities,” each with a distinct identity. Woodrow Wilson likewise claimed, “A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group has not yet become an American.”
According to Dr. Edwin J. Feulner, founder and former president of The Heritage Foundation, “America has always sought to help immigrants incorporate their unique values and culture into the melting pot that is America. Becoming American has nothing to do with birth, ancestry or ethnic identity; it is a state of mind, heart and beliefs.” Feulner described the lengths America went to help create an American identity in immigrants, “In the past, new citizens of this great country were welcomed with a solemn ceremony befitting the commitment they were making. They had been through a rigorous testing process, demonstrating their command of English in a probing interview with an examiner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS); they had proved their moral character and answered questions covering the history, culture, and political heritage of their adopted country ... in a formal courtroom, a black-robed federal judge would lead them through the oath of citizenship, telling them what it meant to be citizens and how to live up to their new responsibilities.”
Feulner contrasts the earlier formalities of immigrants becoming American with today’s experience “in the nondescript local office of the INS, a bureaucrat reads them the oath … they can go straight to the passport office to be set up for their next trip “home” — to China, Honduras, Poland or Sierra Leone” and he laments that, “This scene is sadly symbolic of the way Americans of all stripes are being taught nowadays to think about their citizenship and their national identity. The national motto, e pluribus unum, remains on the books: Out of many, one.” https://www.heritage.org/american-founders/commentary/the-unity-america
It’s important to remember that unity is what makes a nation. “A nation is a group of people with a common language, history, culture, and (usually) geographic territory.”
https://www.britannica.com/question/What-is-the-difference-between-a-nation-and-a-state. History gives countless examples of states which have fallen apart due to the lack of a common national core identity. Empires have historically held different national groups together by force or threat of force, but when those empires weaken, they fall apart by national differences, usually by violent upheaval. We witnessed what happened to the former Yugoslavia, which was a state containing multiple nationalities by threat of force. Under strongman Josip Tito, “The main guarantors of Yugoslavia’s unity were the communist police and army. No force in the country could challenge them, and Tito always had complete control of both.” After Tito’s death and the collapse of communism, Yugoslavia fell apart.
What Joe Biden and other progressives keep telling Americans is wrong. Unity has been the source of American strength and identity. It’s not a unity of benign characteristics like skin color, but a unity that creates a nation and a national identity. Let us hold to what our founders told us about the importance of “common national sentiment” and “uniformity of principles and habits” and most critically the “love of country.” Let us all come together as “one nation, under God” that will continue for the next two and a half centuries in unity.
Bill Connor is a 1990 Citadel graduate, 30-year Army infantry colonel (ret.) and combat veteran. He is a writer and attorney and lives in the Charleston area.