Friday, July 1, 2022

American nationalism

From Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus this morning:
.... At the end of his book, Brookhiser tells a story about U.S. Grant and Otto von Bismarck. They met in Berlin, when Grant was on a world tour, in his post-presidential years.

The German commiserated with the American about civil wars — the worst of wars, brother against brother. Yes, said Grant, but it had to be done: our civil war. Of course, said Bismarck: You had to save your union. Grant replied: Not only that — we had to destroy slavery.

Bismarck had to think about this for a bit. Well and good, he said, but surely saving the union was the main thing. At first it was, said Grant. But, in due course, we saw that slavery had to be blotted out, forever. “We felt that it was a stain to the Union that men should be bought and sold like cattle.”

Writes Brookhiser,
A union in which denial of liberty was a permanent feature, not a stain to be deplored, contained, or eradicated, was not a Union worth saving. It would not be America.
He continues,
Bismarck was half right. Nationalism, including national unity, is the organizing principle of the modern world.

But Grant was entirely right. American nationalism embodies the principle of liberty. Without that, it is nothing. Without that, we are a bigger Canada or an efficient Mexico.
Jay Nordlinger, Impromptus, NRO, July 1, 2022.

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