Andrew Sullivan’s latest lucubrations

Andrew Sullivan’s site is still free, but will shortly go to a fee scheme whereby you can pay $50 a year for full access (I’ve already subscribed). The format is still a weekly tripartite column, but with additions like his famous “The View from My Window” contest, in which readers have to guess exactly where a reader’s photo was taken. There’s also selected feedback from readers, which Andrew answers.

This week’s column (click on screenshot below) has a section on diversity, one on the possibility of a rebuilt Republican Party, and a small “1620 project” piece, in which Sullivan extols the Pilgrims’ arrival in America and, sadly, has gone back to extolling religion as well. I’ll concentrate on the diversity bit, but here’s an excerpt from his “1620 project” piece (the name, of course, is mocking the NYT’s “1619 Project”):

The [Mayflower] Compact was a way to keep the company intact, mandating an elected leader, declaring fealty to King James I, and a set of laws applicable to everyone, Puritan or stranger, as long as everyone affirmed some kind of Christianity. It was a fusion of the religious energy and consensual government that gave the New World its spiritual and political direction. You could even call it, in some ways, the true founding of America, before the Enlightenment.

. . . if you tried hard, you could trace the uniquely religious nature of America from these humble, improvised origins, along with its strong and pioneering attachment to democratic norms. In some ways, these themes run throughout American history, defining us down to this very day. Call it the 1620 Project, if you like. Maybe at some point the New York Times Magazine could devote a whole issue to it.

This is awfully close to osculating religion, and I hope Sullivan isn’t going to revert to his liberal-Catholic, god-accepting days of yore. It’s always puzzled me how someone so intelligent and discerning can buy into a whole bundle of clearly bogus myths, even if they don’t accept all the factual statements of Christianity. (I’d like to know, for instance, if Sullivan thinks Jesus was resurrected after the crucifixion—assuming there even was a Jesus person.) In those who sell themselves as perspicacious and tied to reason, I see adherence to theistic religions as a character flaw.

But I digress, and on to diversity. There are three reasons to mandate diversity (and here I mean racial diversity, which is really what “diversity” always denotes). First, it could be to instantly make the employees of a company, or students of a school, mirror the proportion of groups in the society at large. This won’t eliminate racism immediately, but is supposed to provide role models that will encourage minorities to gain equity.

Second, it could be to promote “viewpoint” diversity, that is, by getting people from different races, you’ll also get a variety of useful viewpoints that can be debated, but can also enrich the institution. This assumes, of course, that different racial groups have, on average, different viewpoints beyond the one always touted: a knowledge of oppression.

Finally, hiring or accepting minorities could serve as a form of reparations, a way to make up for the past treatment of minorities that still holds them back in society.

I adhere mainly to the third reason, which is the reason rejected in the Bakke decision, when the Supreme Court decided (the decision was a bit confusing) that diversity was an inherent good that colleges could strive for in their admissions policy, but quotas were not permitted, nor any attempt to balance out groups by proportion. While diversity is an inherent good, I think the inherent good is instantiated in giving members of minority groups that experienced oppression a leg up when their legs used to be tied down.

Reparations (and affirmative action) were always intended to be a temporary solution, to be abandoned once equal opportunity was ensured (or, if you take a harder view, when equal representation was achieved). Further, it’s not yet clear to me that, given equal opportunity, different groups will sort themselves into positions in exact proportion to their numbers in the population. My own view is that both cultural and biological differences (the latter especially important in men vs women) will convert equal opportunity into different outcomes based on interests. We already know those professions in which women are more numerous than men (e.g., grade-school teachers, nurses), as well as those in which men are more numerous than women (car mechanics). I simply can’t believe that these “inequities” are entirely the result of sexism or the patriarchy.

Sullivan addresses the first and second reasons in his piece, which is based on the New York Times‘s recent vow that by 2025 their workforce will racially reflect, in proportion, the demographics of New York City.  Sullivan calls this the “Kendi test,” based on Ibram X. Kendi’s claim that any inequalities in representation are necessarily the result of racism. Sullivan makes the point that even with free entry there might still be differences based on interests and desires, and also that racial diversity is a grossly imperfect measure of viewpoint diversity, assuming that that’s an important goal of this process.

I’ll give a few quotes:

But notice how this new goal obviously doesn’t reflect New York City’s demographics in many other ways. It draws overwhelmingly from the college educated, who account for only 37 percent of New Yorkers, leaving more than 60 percent of the city completed unreflected in the staffing. It cannot include the nearly 19 percent of New Yorkers in poverty, because a NYT salary would end that. It would also have to restrict itself to the literate, and, according to Literacy New York, 25 percent of people in Manhattan “lack basic prose literary skills” along with 37 percent in Brooklyn and 41 percent in the Bronx. And obviously, it cannot reflect the 14 percent of New Yorkers who are of retirement age, or the 21 percent who have yet to reach 18. For that matter, I have no idea what the median age of a NYT employee is — but I bet it isn’t the same as all of New York City.

Around 10 percent of staffers would have to be Republicans (and if the paper of record nationally were to reflect the country as a whole, and not just NYC, around 40 percent would have to be). Some 6 percent of the newsroom would also have to be Haredi or Orthodox Jews — a community you rarely hear about in diversity debates, but one horribly hit by a hate crime surge48 percent of NYT employees would have to agree that religion is “very important” in their lives; and 33 percent would be Catholic. And the logic of these demographic quotas is that if a group begins to exceed its quota — say Jews, 13 percent — a Jewish journalist would have to retire for any new one to be hired. Taking this proposal seriously, then, really does require explicit use of race in hiring, which is illegal, which is why the News Guild tweet and memo might end up causing some trouble if the policy is enforced.

Indeed, race-based hiring is illegal, as is race-based college admissions to achieve a given quota.

One more quote, this time about equity for other groups:

And that’s true of other institutions too: are we to police Broadway to make sure that gays constitute only 4 percent of the employees? Or, say, nursing, to ensure that the sex balance is 50-50? Or a construction company for gender parity? Or a bike messenger company’s staff to be reflective of the age demographics of the city? Just take publishing — an industry not far off what the New York Times does. 74 percent of its employees are women. Should there be a hiring freeze until the men catch up?

The more you think about it, the more absurdly utopian the Kendi project turns out to be. That’s because its core assumption is that any demographic discrepancies between a profession or institution and its locale are entirely a function of oppression. That’s how Kendi explains racial inequality in America, and specifically denies any alternative explanation. So how is it that a white supremacist country has whites earning considerably less on average than Asian-Americans? How does Kendi explain the fact that the most successful minority group in America are Indian-Americans — with a median income nearly twice that of the national median? Here’s a partial list of the national origins of US citizens whose median earnings are higher than that of white people in America: Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Pakistani, Iranian, Lebanese, Sri Lankan, Armenian, Hmong, Vietnamese. One group earning less: British-American.

You can argue that these groups are immigrants and self-selecting for those with higher IQs, education, motivation, and drive. It’s true. But notice that this argument cannot be deployed under the Kendi test: any inequality is a result of racism, remember? Cultural differences between groups, class, education, IQ, family structure: all these are irrelevant. So how is it that immigrant Nigerian-Americans have a slightly higher median household income than British-Americans in the US? The crudeness of the model proposed for hiring and firing at the New York Times can make no sense of this at all.

And I’ll let you read the rest for yourselves. The point is that there is an argument here worth having, and there’s no need to accept Kendi’s claim nor to insist that “equality” means “representation is always in the same proportions as groups in the population.” That’s an expectation of equal outcomes, while I think the fairest position is to ensure equal opportunity. That, of course, is harder to achieve, since ensuring equal opportunity has to begin right at birth, and that means eliminating economic and social inequalities between groups (and funding their schools) as fast as possible. But I think it’s folly to think that equal outcomes will ensure equal opportunities. Rather, equal opportunities will eventually ensure fairer outcomes.

As for Sullivan’s musings on the reconstructed GOP (should Trump lose), there’s not much there. Who, if Trump goes, can lead a kinder and fairer Republican Party, characterized by what Sullivan calls a “right-of-center pragmatism”? Sullivan is accurate in describing the changes that the GOP should make to recover from the mess that Trumpism has made of it, but as for who can head the party, his “suggestions” rankle me:

There is also, I suspect, a suppressed but real desire for the normality and calmness that Trump has eviscerated. David Brooks sees a few candidates: Josh Hawley, Ben Sasse, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio.

To be fair, these are Brooks’s candidates, but I suspect that Sullivan agrees with him. And then Andrew lists the GOP heroes of the past:

I know that looking around the rightwing media these days is not likely to give anyone optimism that this could happen, and I’m not pinning my hopes on anyone in particular. But history does, from time to time, throw up new figures who manage to take a political party from the wilderness to something far saner. Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, Blair, Cameron, and Boris come to mind.

You can argue about the merits of these people, but I wouldn’t hold out Reagan or Johnson as shining beacons of conservative enlightenment. Or perhaps the problem I have with leadership in the Republican Party is that it’s not the Democratic Party.

40 thoughts on “Andrew Sullivan’s latest lucubrations

  1. I read the “1620 Project” piece and the piece on Kendi last night. I thought the Kendi piece was very good, and points out how a lot of critiques like Kendi’s live by looking at only a sliver of the picture. If all we look at are gross racial categories, it’s easier to call for equality of representation than if we start looking deeper at race, and dn’t ignore sex, class, religion, etc. It put me in mind of something Glenn Loury said in his interview in City Journal a few weeks ago: The only way to get equality of outcomes is with a totalitarian government. I found the 1620 piece interesting, but it reminded me that our 250th anniversary as a nation is in six years. How are we going to celebrate that?

  2. I believe Sullivan is all wet. He says – You can’t simply throw an entire political party into the trashcan. Why not? It has been done before. How did we get the Republican party in the first place, the Wigs departed. What happened to the Federalist and so on. The current Republican party has become so vile and full of ignorance there is no longer a place for it. We now how republican Senators working for Russia dispensing their anti Biden propaganda. They have enabled the most corrupt and criminal president in our history. What is left to save? I think that Sullivan is too clever for himself.

    1. What particularly annoyed me was his list of candidates for leading a new and improved Republican Party. Tom Cotton? That’s just nuts.

      1. And Marco Rubio? Nuts again. That he offers someone else’s list of possible GOP candidates is telling and cowardly. It’s as if he’s saying that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about but he’s going to say it anyway. I second his opinion.

        Let me add that it wouldn’t at all surprise me if Rubio runs in 2024. The surprise is that Sullivan would presumably be ok with that. It seems unlikely Rubio would win as his opponent would beat him over the head with his Trump-worship. On the other hand, he and others like him will undoubtedly spin their former Trumpiness as simply allegiance to the party and the president. I can see half the country being ok with that.

        1. It occurs to me that half the country would be OK with an office stapler running for office as long as it belonged to his or her party.

          1. You are correct that in this country political partisanship is very strong. Pew Research did a survey on this topic in December 2019. It notes that “partisanship continues to be the dividing line in the American public’s political attitudes, far surpassing differences by age, race and ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, religious affiliation or other factors. Yet there are substantial divisions within both parties on fundamental political values, views of current issues and the severity of the problems facing the nation.“ This means that partisanship is so strong people will vote for the party candidate even if they disagree strongly with the person’s views on many issues. This is why I think the Republican Party will survive Trump, but in what form is anyone’s guess. But, there is no sign that moderates will emerge because they have all been purged from the party. People such as Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton will try to take over, but at least for a while chaos will reign. Remember, Trump will be gone, but not Trumpism.

            https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2019/12/17/in-a-politically-polarized-era-sharp-divides-in-both-partisan-coalitions/

            1. Let’s hope the Dems can hold power for a decade or more while the GOP retools. We’ve got things to do.

    2. But in a two-party, first-past-the-post system, there will always be two major parties, even if one of them declines into irrelevance. If you are the sort of person who thinks, “If only the bad Democrats/Republicans went away, then the good Republicans/Democrats would win forever”, then not only is that a delusion about how democratic politics works, but you want a one-party state. The people who vote for Republicans wouldn’t go away if the GOP went away: they’d simply found or find a new party to vote for, one which would be functionally the same. If you look at the history of the Conservative Party in the UK, they have perpetually been written off as dead for the past 120+ years (the same thing every time: only the old and the rich vote for them), but they always seem to come roaring back with just a little bit of rebranding.

  3. Sullivan may be right that Colonial America, by acting as a religious refuge for folks like those on the Mayflower, may have set the stage for a future “Goddy” nation. I don’t know if he is approving, or just making a historical claim.

  4. I find the subject of what happens to the GOP after Trump to be fascinating, not that I would likely ever be interested in voting for their candidates even if they survive. Partly it is a game of reading political tea leaves. Just to put some scope on it, let’s assume that Trump loses in November. The questions are (a) is the GOP still around in 2024 and, if so, (b) who will they run for president?

    My own feeling is that the GOP will survive Trump. I also think that the party leaders will not attempt to replace him by the Trumpiest candidate they can find. First of all, Trump lost (our premise) and, second, no one can replace Trump as Trump. His is a unique psychopathy.

    Instead, the GOP will attempt to distance itself from Trump. They are going to find this very hard to do, especially as Trump himself will refuse to go away quietly and Trump followers will still embrace their idiot ideology.

    If the Dems win the presidency and both houses of Congress, they will be able to remake the country and this will piss off half the country. They get that Trump is bad on the pandemic but won’t come to the conclusion that dealing with such things mean you need good, active government. In short, the divisions will continue.

    1. I too am doubtful that the GOP can get the toothpaste back in the tube after Trump is gone. The populist wing of the party, with all its xenophobia, will remain ascendant. The party will install a less erratic leader, but the poisonous ideology will remain. Those of us who want a moderate party advocating limited but compassionate government will have no home after the extreme left completes its capture of the Democratic party.

      1. One thing I forgot to mention is that there’s no other party well-positioned to take the place of the GOP as the opposition party to the Dems. There will also be many who hate the Dems so they’re not going to allow it to rule unchallenged. This says to me that the GOP will survive in some form or other.

    2. I agree with you that division will continue to be the way, it always has been, since the beginning. However, I think the republican party will die sooner or later. Everything they stand for is old and wrong. I cannot think of anything in their tool box that works. They are racist, they are all about small govt. which really means govt. for the rich and they have accomplished that in spades. The lack of democracy in our Constitution is and has been the whole problem. Equal representation by state is a terrible mistake and Madison acknowledged this back in 1787. He said at the time it was unjust and a terrible idea. Yet here we are 250 years later and nothing has changed.

      1. After Trump, the GOP will attempt to put their racist, white supremacist genie back in the box. That’s the one part of Trumpism that Trump’s backers in the GOP do not really follow. They realized long ago that their racism had to be practiced in the dark and without saying the words. Trump brought it out in the open and they will blame this for Trump’s fall. “Trumpism without Racism” will be their unspoken slogan.

        1. But there is so much more wrong with this party besides Trump. They are a party of first class hypocrites and would favor all forms of government support be eliminated. They are against health care for anyone but those who can afford it. They first and always want to put women back in the 19th century, pregnant and in the kitchen. No govt. aid for any but the rich. The economic system of the country is so screwed up it no long makes any sense. Look at the stock market, going like gang busters in the middle of a depression with millions laid off. That is republican govt. Always for the rich and nothing for the rest.

          1. I agree. I am only trying to guess at what will happen, not what should happen. Actually, many of the Never Trumpers are weighing in on the “should” question. I find some of the articles on The Bulwark (www.thebulwark.com) interesting on this. Among other things, they have been collecting links to others’ opinions on the “Burn it all down?” question.

            BTW, my description of the Republican Party is the Selfish Party. While there are many kinds of Republicans, they seem to share a single principle of always voting for themselves and against helping others out.

    3. On the point that no one can be Trump but Trump. There was a pretty learned sounding discussion on NPR recently about how several Trump wanna-be down-ballot candidates kept losing to more establishment Republican candidates in the last round of primaries. So maybe that is true. It is tempting to emulate Trump, but it does not always work.

      1. Yes, but there’s a distinction to be made between Trump-approved sycophants, like those Republican governors and congressmen, and someone who seeks to replace Trump. The former pretty much owe their power to Trump’s approval and if Trump goes down, they will likely go down with them.

        To replace Trump after he loses will take someone who is Trump-like in attitudes, policy, appeal to his base, but will have to distance themselves from Trump. They will have to position themselves as better than Trump — Trump without the disorder and conspiracy theories perhaps or with a less obvious racist dog whistle. Trump would likely hate such a person for obvious reasons. It would be tough to pull off which is why I doubt it will happen.

  5. Why does the NYTimes have equal subscription fees for the privileged and the marginalized? Isn’t that racist?

  6. The Columbia University statistician Andrew Gelman writes occasionally on his blog about what he calls the fallacy of measurement: taking a rich real-world phenomenon (like racial differences in jobs and careers and lifestyles) and abstracting it down to a simplistic measurement (like numerical representation of each race in a particular job) so much that one removes the most interesting content from the phenomenon. Kendi clearly makes this same fallacious argument: he mistakes the measurement of racial representation for the estimation of opportunities available to individuals.

  7. Politics pooh. Equal opportunity. Something I believe all should look at and into. A few years ago my sister who worked for the Illinois parole board and I got into a discussion about the cost of incarcerating someone vs the cost (amount expended) of welfare recipients. What education, health care and food could be available if the dollar amount were reversed. Also, how many fewer incarcerations would ultimately be made with healthier better educated people. This wouldn’t do away with all poverty. I believe some prefer their sorrows.
    This country does not have a very good catch all.

  8. I share Sullivan’s dislike of the extreme focus on demographic homogeneousness in every field, because I think it distracts from the more pragmatic issue of income inequality. (I have seen some suggest this is by design, encouraged by one percenters and so on, but I don’t go that far with the concept.) It seems to me that the current focus is on saying we must right racial injustices by making sure more minorities are in the top paying / most socially prestigious jobs – but this removes focus from the idea that a good quality of life and income should not be dependent upon what society deems a prestigious job in the first place (the strange thing about this dynamic is that it seems like a 100% natural fit for the Left, on paper, while in reality it seems that slightly center Right people are more the ones in favor of this framework these days.) While I do think there should be a push to increase diversity in some areas, such as those doing scientific research, in some cases I say this is just a matter of valuing the wrong things. African Americans tend to be represented at rates that are at or close to the demographics of the country as a whole in caregiving professions, for example – to my mind the problem there is not that more people have to have vaguely defined corporate jobs, it’s that society needs to better value people who provide all kinds of essential services.

    Regarding the role of nature vs. nurture in who a person becomes (this is something of a tangent, but I believe Sullivan has talked about it before,) it seems to me that the Left is having a bit of an identity crisis in that on the one hand it believes in blank slate-ism, while on the other it believes in being accepting of the way people were born (if you truly believe in blank slate-ism, after all, then you believe conversion therapy works pretty well). It seems to me that, at the moment at least, the Left is resolving this cognitive dissonance by moving away from celebrating the uniqueness of individuals and instead creating templates that society ‘ought’ to churn out meat grinder style, seeing as how in their framework people can be molded into whatever we choose. Even support for things like homosexuality is waning in woke circles as it’s now considered ‘transphobic’ for a gay person not to date a person of the opposite sex who identifies as another gender. It seems to me that we need a new philosophy that does a better job combining the potential of nurturing, growth oriented environments with the acceptance that comes with viewing individuals as autonomous beings and not lumps of clay.

    1. Yes absolutely: addressing poverty and increasing upward mobility for all poor people would directly help the black and brown and other people who are most in need of help, and would indirectly address a lot of the “representation” issues in which (poor) brown and black people are excluded from many careers and from many places to live by virtue of their poverty (and not directly by virtue of their race). I agree with you: real racism exists, but it is not the direct cause of all (or perhaps even most) of the differences in representation that are evident all around us.

    2. “(I have seen some suggest this is by design, encouraged by one percenters and so on, but I don’t go that far with the concept.)”

      I think the one area where the emphasis on race is deliberate is the lucrative business of antiracist consultants (cough, Robin DiAngelo, cough). These consultants are overwhelmingly white people who can’t give their whiteness to others who are (racially) oppressed. If the focus was on poverty and class, it would be easy and obvious how such consultants could directly and materially help those who are (materially) oppressed: the consultants could give away their own money.

  9. Jerry, I agree that Andrew Sullivan is an entertaining writer of sorts and spot on with his criticisms of current American-style Leftism, but when it comes to assessing the worthy gentleman’s intellectual depth…well, peruse again his on-line debate with Sam Harris. Not much to it. Disingenuous and deplorably evasive. Can’t find the link just now, but sure it’s otherwise available.

  10. Disagree completely re JC’s drive-by of Boris Johnson–a one-nation, tolerant, extraordinarily cosmopolitan Tory, whose first statement after winning his huge victory in December was to criticize the Thatcherite worship of free market values. If Johnson were an American, his politics would be left of Biden’s (except on identity politics). Here JC has been taken in by the (any surprise?) insane and uninformed coverage in the NYT, rather than forming his own opinions by reading unbiased accounts.

    1. Johnson has managed to surround himself with a cabinet of ineffectual incompetents selected for their willingness to “get Brexit done” and retained for their ability to turn a blind eye to the Cummings fiasco.

      Johnson should have sacked Cummings and Jenrick months ago. His mishandling of the pandemic has been pathetic – so much for the “world-beating” test and trace app and the “protective ring” he claims was thrown around care homes while he was busy sending elderly patients to them from NHS hospitals without testing them for Covid-19 first. And now – a month before schools are due to open – he decides that they are a higher priority than pubs, although he allowed those to open weeks ago.

      1. Oops, I meant to add that judging a PM by the drivel they spout on the doorstep of No 10 when they win an election is ridiculous – Thatcher channelled Francis of Assisi (ceiling cat help us) and as for Theresa May’s “The government I lead will put fairness and opportunity at the heart of everything we do” …!

  11. “The [Mayflower] Compact was a way to keep the company intact, mandating an elected leader, declaring fealty to King James I, and a set of laws applicable to everyone, Puritan or stranger, as long as everyone affirmed some kind of Christianity. It was a fusion of the religious energy and consensual government that gave the New World its spiritual and political direction. You could even call it, in some ways, the true founding of America, before the Enlightenment.”

    This may or may not be so in terms of the religious morass we find ourselves in now. For the most part, all of the colonies but two required participation in whatever Christian faith the owners or first European settlers demanded. In some, to live there you had to be of that particular faith. In others, you could live there, but couldn’t own property or have voting rights.
    Pennsylvania tended to let people of whatever Christian belief live there. After 1636 when Roger Williams was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, he created Rhode Island which had religious freedom.

    But, the Mayflower settlers did not originate the U.S. as it currently exists. There were many other settlements and civilizations living here prior to that; many of them still around. Perhaps, the Mayflower group can be blamed for any citizens alive here now who insist that we all hold the same beliefs as they do.

    Native American Mound Builders built communities all over the eastern part of the continent from a little way west (MN), and all over the east, along the Mississippi River and connecting waterway systems. One amazing example is Cahokia in IL, outside St. Louis. It was huge and traded east, west, north, and south far into Mexico.

    Acoma(Sky City), NM natives believe they’ve been in the area for 2000 years. They’ve lived on a plateau there to the present day in the city they built in about the 11th century.

    Chaco, NM was settled from the 9th through the 13th centuries. When climate change made agriculture impossible throughout a huge portion of the Southwest (Four Corners area). Chaco has some amazing structures. Pueblo Bonito is the length of a football field and five stories high. Their road system was/is amazing and led to smaller communities for miles around them that all interacted.

    Santa Fe, NM was lived in by the Tano Native Americans for an indeterminate amount of time before the Tewa built a small settlement there about 900CE around what became the plaza. The Spanish effort to colonize the region began there about 1598.

    St. Augustine, FL was settled by the Spanish in 1565. It is the oldest surviving European settled city in the contiguous U.S.

    Roanoke, VA was settled unsuccessfully twice, by the English in 1585 and 1587. No one survived in the settlement, but it is thought by some that survivors may have joined with Native Americans in the area. Some European physical characteristics have been noted in local natives.

    New Amsterdam, in what became New York was
    conceived by the Dutch West India Co. in 1621. I haven’t found the actual date of settlement, but it was the capital of the province by 1625.

    The U.S. still has all of these national and cultural influences present. As you might perceive, it annoys me to give exclusive credit or blame to the English settlers from the Mayflower who settled here in 1620.

    1. I think what’s important here is less a matter of occupational precedence and more one of which communities most influenced the political, legal, and linguistic patterns that came to dominate society at large. The occupants of Cahokia had little influence on how you and I live our lives today.

      1. I sometimes complain about the Eurocentric
        slant we are imbued with educationally, historically and culturally. I may be wrong, but I believe that what Andrew Sullivan says about this is wrong. Native American influence may have been diminished or lost, but Spanish influence has not. Our origin was not exclusively either English or Christian. All of our foreign ancestors, whatever their origin, left their marks on this nation.

        1. Origin of what? To what extent did Spanish culture influence the political/governmental structures that ultimately were codified as the Constitution? This isn’t denigrating Hispanic culture or French. It is simply how history played out. Our dominant social structures were far more influenced by British culture than any other ethnic group despite the fact that countless Italians, Russians, Poles, Africans, Germans, Mexicans, etc. etc. contributed to our cultural stew. It was British-derived folk who set the rules by which our country was organized.

          1. In regards to the Constitution and the legal system, most of it was patterned on the British. But, many forms of governance were considered, both contemporary and ancient, including that of the Five Nations of the Confederacy (one of which was Iroquois). Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with all the source documents or which elements were drawn from each.

  12. Yawn. C’mon, Rowena, straight-forward history bores Americans. The following is just a bit of fun. “Santa Fe was lived in by the Tano Native Americans…”. “Roanoke, VA, was settled unsuccessfully twice…No one survived in the settlement, but it is thought by some that survivors may have joined with Native Americans in the area…”. Again, just a bit of fun. I’m fully aware that those who live by grammatical nit-picking die by it (that said, the import of your Comment is not lost on me).

    1. My apologies to you and the rest of the readers here for the boring historical rant. Sullivan happened to hit a nerve. And, with all the other pandemic and political bad news, I seem to be easily triggered. I’ll try to do better.

      1. And let’s not forget Nya Sverige, the Swedish colony centered on Fort Cristina, which became Wilmington, Delaware later on.
        This episode explains the USian fascination with lutefisk.

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