An article posted at the New Yorker Magazine argues that the founding of the United States was a mistake and all the problems we have as a country are because of the Founding Fathers.
The article, written by Adam Gopnik, starts:
And what if it was a mistake from the start? The Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, the creation of the United States of America—what if all this was a terrible idea, and what if the injustices and madness of American life since then have occurred not in spite of the virtues of the Founding Fathers but because of them? The Revolution, this argument might run, was a needless and brutal bit of slaveholders’ panic mixed with Enlightenment argle-bargle, producing a country that was always marked for violence and disruption and demagogy. Look north to Canada, or south to Australia, and you will see different possibilities of peaceful evolution away from Britain, toward sane and whole, more equitable and less sanguinary countries. No revolution, and slavery might have ended, as it did elsewhere in the British Empire, more peacefully and sooner. No “peculiar institution,” no hideous Civil War and appalling aftermath. Instead, an orderly development of the interior—less violent, and less inclined to celebrate the desperado over the peaceful peasant. We could have ended with a social-democratic commonwealth that stretched from north to south, a near-continent-wide Canada.
That’s pretty much all you really need to read.
Calling the Revolution “self-directed propaganda,” the piece touched on some of the horrors of the Revolutionary War and managed to even take a jab at Donald Trump:
Academic histories of the Revolution, though, have been peeping over the parapets, joining scholarly scruples to contemporary polemic. One new take insists that we misunderstand the Revolution if we make what was an intramural and fratricidal battle of ideas in the English-speaking Empire look like a modern colonial rebellion. Another insists that the Revolution was a piece of great-power politics, fought in unimaginably brutal terms, and no more connected to ideas or principles than any other piece of great-power politics: America was essentially a Third World country that became the battlefield for two First World powers. Stirred into the larger pot of recent revisionism, these arguments leave us with a big question: was it really worth it, and are we better off for its having happened? In plain American, is Donald Trump a bug or a feature of the American heritage?
It’s one thing to speculate and ask, “what if?” Harry Turtledove did that quite well in his novel, “Guns of the South,” in which he tells the tale of apartheid-era South Africans who develop time travel to sell automatic weapons to the Confederate Army.
It’s quite another to say the founding of America was a mistake. Yes, war is brutal, but if the Revolution was never fought, the Constitution — and all of the freedoms and rights it codified — would never have existed. And for all of its faults, the United States of America has done more and paid more to free oppressed people around the world than any other nation in history.
Sadly, Gopnik — while exercising his rights under the First Amendment — never acknowledges that.
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