Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

November 20, 2012

The dumbing down of Thanksgiving

(Continued)

Without it, we lose any sense that we have an obligation to live up to a national standard that derives, if not from the God of the Bible, from the natural law. This has always been part of what makes America different from other nations. France will always be France no matter what, but America involves striving toward an ideal.

The great political scientist Samuel Huntington, in rebutting the new left of the 1960s whose sense of the nation's sinfulness exceeded all reasonable bounds, stated it nicely.

"Critics say that America is a lie because its reality falls so far short of its ideals," he wrote. "They are wrong. America is not a lie; it is a disappointment. But it can be a disappointment only because it is also a hope."

Or as Lincoln put it in his famous phrase, we are "the almost chosen people."

Not surprisingly, President Barack Obama's Thanksgiving proclamations have been particularly pedestrian and perfunctory. God is lucky to get a mention or two. In his 2009 proclamation, the only reference to God came in a quote from George Washington. If his proclamation of America Recycles Day ("we rededicate ourselves to building a more sustainable future") invoked the divine providence somewhere, it wouldn't be so different in tone or content from his Thanksgiving proclamations.

What God has lost in prominence in Obama's statements has been gained by the American Indians, in a bow to multicultural pieties. His 2010 proclamation described how a spirit of Thanksgiving "brought together the newly arrived Pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe - who had been living and thriving around Plymouth, Mass., for thousands of years - in an autumn harvest feast centuries ago."

His proclamation last year urged the country "to remember the ways that the first Americans have enriched our nation's heritage, from their generosity centuries ago to the everyday contributions they make to all facets of American life." Near the end, that proclamation included the ringing, "Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the years to come."

From Lincoln's "fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation" to Obama's "pay it forward" is a long way down.

(c) 2012 by King Features Syndicate

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