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American Myth
By Peter O’Brien

Friday's jobs report was pretty darned good; the basic unemployment rate climbed to 4% (still exceptionally low), but the workforce participation rate climbed, meaning people are re-entering the workforce, confident they can find a job. And unemployment rates for blacks (6.5%) and Hispanics (4.6%) remain at all-time lows.

Some downplayed these numbers, as well as very strong confidence numbers across the country, and instead focused on inflation nosing up to 2.9%, mainly an effect of rising oil prices. Of course, that the same individuals – and the previous administration – have/had policy positions calling for gasoline prices to climb above those in Europe suggests a different agenda than improving the standards of living for the average American.

We seem to live within a constant effort to spin every event and every fact into something that denigrates the administration and more importantly denigrates the nation, that seeks to erode the nation's social fabric. Truth isn't important, spin is. Hard work isn't important, wealth is – no matter how obtained. Reputations are meaningless, but fame is vital, (and no one is infamous anymore).

They are waging a war on virtue.

There's no fact, no event, that isn't turned on its head and "shown” to be "proof” that every facet of America is, in fact, at least tainted and more likely evil, and must be "exposed” and condemned; by exposing these "myths,” they can devalue the moral.

This is now a cottage industry of sorts, with "secret” histories of the Founding Fathers "finally exposing the truth.” These regularly turn out to be humorous irrelevancies, but what's trumpeted is the headline: "George Washington Lied;” you must dig to get to the title's reality: Washington's management of the spy network he ran against the enemy.

All this occurred to me as I drove across the Pecos River in West Texas, listening to a discussion on the Roman historian Livy.

Livy wrote a history of Rome that told how the city grew from a small village to a great city and empire. Much of what he wrote about early Rome was, he admitted, as much mythology as history.

As Livy himself noted, he didn't believe the myths, but he did believe the mythology. Many stories he told taught ideals, morals, behaviors people should strive to emulate. These stories and figures that Livy wrote about served the critical purpose of providing Romans, in particular young Romans, examples of proper behavior, of virtue, both as individuals and as members of society. These myths, some of which still resonate 2,000 years later (e.g. Horatio at the Bridge), taught readers how they were to behave, how they were to respect others, how to function in a family and a society, how to place others first, how to live their lives.

The United States, as with every other nation, has developed its own mythology. There are many (Washington and the cherry tree being perhaps the most obvious), but they served – and still serve – to teach the virtues.

But it struck me, as I drove across the well mythologized West, that if there's anything the Progressives are trying to do it is to undermine the West via the destruction of our virtues. And to do that, they are trying to destroy our myths, our mythology.

This country is wealthy and industrious and remarkably free and just. As you drive along – it's best to get off the highways occasionally – you see huge trainloads full of cattle and lumber and coal and oil and a thousand goods. And men and women working hard to produce all this.

And the people are good and friendly. And overwhelmingly virtuous. Yes, there is crime. But the people you meet – at gas stations, at restaurants, at truck stops and scenic views, waiting under an overpass as a squall passes – everyone is friendly, ready to help those who needed it; these are good people. And - they get the mythology.

In certain places – our nation's capital in particular - everyone seems angry and self-centered, the landscape crowded and loud and grating, populated with a small, angry, and vocal minority that would see virtue unraveled.

The simple truth is that those cynical people aren't real Americans. Let's continue to defend our nation – and its mythology. The mythology, and the reality, of America are alive and well in the heartland. The sad reality is those on the edge who refuse to see it.

 





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