by Dennis Prager, PragerU
Race and ethnicity have defined every nation on earth except one: the United States of America. This nation is defined by VALUES. So to understand America, you have to understand American values. They are:
1. E Pluribus Unum
3. In God We Trust
I call this the American Trinity. I made up the name, but I did not make up the values. All three are on every American coin.
The first, E Pluribus Unum, is Latin meaning “Out of many, One.” When first adopted as the American motto, shortly after the American founding in 1776, it referred to the thirteen American colonies becoming one nation.
Over time, however, most Americans understood the motto to mean “One people from many backgrounds.” To quote the E Pluribus Unum Project funded by The National Endowment for the Humanities, “Over the years, ‘E Pluribus Unum’ has also served as a reminder of America’s bold attempt to make one unified nation of people from many different backgrounds and beliefs.”
In other words, America does not care about your national or ethnic origins. This explains why people who immigrate to America assimilate faster and more fully than immigrants to any other country. Most of those who immigrated to Europe from, for example, Turkey, as millions have, are not considered fully German by fellow Germans, or fully Swedish by fellow Swedes, or fully Spanish by fellow Spaniards.
This is even true of the children and grandchildren of those immigrants. And just as important, few of those immigrants or their children or grandchildren will ever feel fully German or Swedish or Spanish.
However, a Turk who immigrates to the United States will be regarded as fully American as any other American the moment he or she becomes a US Citizen. And they, and certainly their children, can feel fully American. Of course, America has not always lived up to this “E Pluribus Unum” ideal, but the ideal was always there and it was applied to virtually every immigrant to the United States.
The second component of “my” American Trinity is Liberty. Now, one could ask, “Did not the French revolution also enshrine Liberty as a central national value? Was not its motto: ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’?”
And the answer is, Yes.
America is hardly the only country to enshrine Liberty! However, it is the ONLY country to enshrine Liberty along with E Pluribus Unum and In God We Trust! What is the difference?
The difference is this: The moment you affirm Equality the way the French revolution did, you will lose Liberty. The basic American VALUE is that all human beings are born equal, and all must be treated equal before the Law. But ending up equal is a French and European value! If you want people to end up equal, you must deprive them of liberty, which is exactly what happened right after the French revolution! This is also true in every other society that made Equality its national goal.
America gives people the liberty to end up where ever their abilities, work ethic and fortunate opportunities take them; meaning UNequal outcomes! Therefore, professional athletes will make more money than teachers or doctors. That may be unfortunate but that is what Liberty allows!
A nation that wants equal outcomes will tell people how much they are allowed to earn, and that means the end of Liberty.
Our third VALUE is “In God We Trust.” Unlike almost every other country, the United States never had a State Religion. But it was founded on the principle that God, specifically the God of the Jewish and Christian Bible, is the source of moral values.
As our Declaration of Independence phrased it, “All [people] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In other words, rights come from God, not from humans. If rights are given by humans, humans can take them away!
This American Trinity, as I have named it, is the reason the United States became the world’s freest and most prosperous country. Many Americans want to, in the words of former president Barack Obama, “fundamentally transform it.” They wish to replace American values with European values including equality of outcomes and an ever-expanding State (which will greatly reduce individual freedom), a celebration of ethnic and racial identity (which is the opposite of E Pluribus Unum), and the removal of the Judeo-Christian God as the source of morality and rights.
Which set of values Americans adopt will determine whether America remains free, prosperous, and the force for good in the world that it has been. With the exception of the Civil War, we are faced with the greatest internal battle in American history.
Dennis Prager, PragerU