January 19, 2015


Why We Keep This Creed (Michael Gerson, July 4, 2007, Washington Post)

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. recognized that America has a "schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against herself." But we are redeemed, he argued, by our creed, expressed in the Declaration of Independence, which manages "to forever challenge us; to forever give us a sense of urgency; to forever stand in the midst of the 'isness' of our terrible injustices; to remind us of the 'oughtness' of our noble capacity for justice and love and brotherhood." Americans, he said, believe in "certain basic rights that are neither derived from nor conferred by the state. . . . They are God-given, gifts from his hands."

"You may take my life," King said, "but you can't take my right to life. You may take liberty from me, but you can't take my right to liberty." And this creed of "amazing universalism" calls "America to do a special job for mankind and the world . . . because America is the world in miniature and the world is America writ large."

The privileged and powerful can love America for many reasons. The oppressed and powerless, stripped of selfish motives for their love, have found America lovely because of its ideals.

It is typical of America that our great national day is not the celebration of a battle -- or, as in the case of France, the celebration of a riot. It is the celebration of a political act, embedded in a philosophic argument: that the rights of man are universal because they are rooted in the image of God.

Which is why the nativist, with his particularist claim that America is for him and his, can not succeed in the long run.

[originally posted: 7/05/07]

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Posted by at January 19, 2015 2:00 PM

A nasty slider.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 5, 2007 9:14 PM

I like that line about the French celebration of a riot, but otherwise the column, strictly speaking, anti-American. Gerson can only love America-as-she-might-be, not America-as-she-is. He shares the self-loathing of our dear Liberals.

Posted by: Paul J Cella at July 6, 2007 11:29 AM

And of God.

Posted by: oj at July 6, 2007 12:40 PM

God hates Himself?

I can't decide if that amusing sophistry or outrageous blasphemy.

Posted by: Paul J Cella at July 6, 2007 12:48 PM

Well, that was the entire point of the Crucifixion, but here we're speaking of Him and Michael Gerson sharing a dissatisfaction that you claim not to.

Posted by: oj at July 6, 2007 3:34 PM


I'd go with the sophistry - after all, Jesus said (more than once) that he did only what the Father was doing (and under the Father's authority), and he also said he always did what pleased his Father. OJ just wants to cause a buzz in the pews. Perhaps he can't apprehend expiation for himself.

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 7, 2007 10:42 AM


Exactly the point. So when Christ despaired on the Cross it was God hating Himself. Only then could He comprehend what it meant to be a man, which is why He forgives us--we know not what we do.

Posted by: oj at July 7, 2007 1:13 PM
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