Stan Crader

Author & Lecturer on Writing About Rural America

The American Experiment

After going through a course called “The Truth Project,” which deals with critical elements of American history that have been distorted and now taught as fact, Debbie and I decided to do something about it. So, each year we host a speaker, who is an authority on a particular historical subject, to the campus of Southeast Missouri State University. The speaker typically spends the day with honor students and then addresses a large public gathering that evening. This year we hosted Dr. Daniel Dreisbach, Professor of Law at American University, an authority on our founding fathers, and particularly Thomas Jefferson. He specifically addressed Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists dealing with church and state.

During Dr. Dreisbach’s visit, I had the privilege of accompanying him to a dinner hosted by a former Missouri Supreme Court Judge. Also at the dinner were a retired Missouri Appellate Court Judge, a New York Times best-selling author, and a college professor of history. The discussion was vigorous.

A litany of subjects were debated, primarily those having to do with American legends now taught as fact and how universities such as Harvard, established by Christian organizations and once conservative have, in the name of diversity, evolved into schools with an obtuse identity. And, in too many cases, every religion except Christianity is welcome on campus and in the classroom. But the real pearl of the night came when we stumbled upon a major theme that is missing in today’s classrooms at every level.

Even though today’s history curriculum is abridged, and too often to a misleading degree, there’s an even greater crucial element that is completely missing. While students learn a somewhat distorted version of America’s roots – the Pilgrims, Paul Revere, the Tea Party, and all of that – the uniqueness of the journey known as the American Experiment, is tragically missed. What’s missing you ask? The world is primarily made up of countries formed by homogenous groups with borders that have changed repeatedly, usually after the most recent war. The United States is vastly different.

America is a country of diverse immigrants. While the original Americans were British Christian Protestants, and the founding fathers drew on their religious roots to draft our Declaration of Independence, Federalist Papers, and Constitution, America has since welcomed those from all continents, faiths, and cultures. The United States is made up of German Americans, Korean Americans, African Americans, and the list goes on. The common thread is that all are American. And, a myriad of cultures peacefully flourish under a common flag.

While students are taught a light version of American history, few are impressed with the unique nature of America. Doing so would cause more to realize the intangible aspects that make America resilient and  great. America is a country of people with diverse origins; there will always be divisions. America’s greatest leaders have been able to draw upon the strengths of diversity and inspire most to a common goal. We all pledge allegiance to the same flag.

There’s currently too much focus on divisions and not enough coverage given to the diverse, but serene, communities that make up most of America. No country on earth hosts and provides protection for the variety of religions as does America. In no other country do citizens reside with a more diverse background but common allegiance. Rarely does a public protest in America result in the loss of life. Think back to the months-long Wall Street set-in. This freedom of speech, and too often responsibility, is an important aspect to realize in order to understand and deal with differences of notions that have always existed, always will, and are essential what makes America unique, peculiar, and great.

Pundits would have us believe that never before have the politics been so brutal. Those who say so don’t know their history. For example, Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President challenged a political adversary to a dual and subsequently shot and killed him on the capital lawn. Compared to that, our politicians – both liberal and conservative – are sedate.

What was once considered an experiment by the rest of the world raised up to defeat the greatest power on earth at that time, gained its independence and quickly rose to be the world’s greatest power, protector, and provider—still is.

The fact that America was founded on Christian principals can’t be denied. The language of our constitution is laced with the style of those familiar with the Bible. The country first known as the American Experiment is now the country to which the greatest numbers risk all to reach.

America is no longer an experiment—it’s the standard.

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