We must decide whether we want to save America
America is in crisis. Her destiny is on the line, and she will survive only if we still love her.
A battle rages in the streets, in academia, in the culture, and in the hearts and minds of the American people over whether America was and remains a good and great nation.
I have always believed that America is the greatest and most benevolent nation in history, that its Constitution is, in the words of former British Prime Minister William Gladstone, "The most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man."
That's primarily because the Constitution was crafted to maximize man's liberty -- not just by paying flowery lip service to the concept on hallowed parchment but by containing concrete limitations on government to ensure its realization.
Over time, anti-libertarian forces have chipped away at the document's integrity and its guaranteed freedoms. Today, those destructive forces are ascendant and emboldened.
Years ago, I was invited to give talks on the Constitution. On one such occasion, a female African American law student, after hearing my glowing endorsement of the document, asked how she could be expected to revere a government charter that condoned slavery.
I admit to providing an inadequate answer for my good-faith questioner, but I have given much thought to this important and increasingly relevant question since.
The immorality of slavery is undebatable, but the constitutional provisions dealing with it are more complex and deserve more than a short column. For now, let me say that the American people's better angels fought a devastating Civil War largely over the issue and worked, especially in the last half-century, to ensure equal opportunity for all people under law.
Going forward, we must decide whether we want to heal or persist in endless conflict and racial acrimony. We can't legislatively purge evil from men's hearts -- but we can and must pray to the God of all creation and of all precious human beings to expunge racial conflict and distrust from our souls, and to heal this land. I believe we've made enormous strides on racism, and let's not allow the naysayers to take that away from us.
Some continually call for a national conversation on race. Others maintain we've been having that conversation for decades. We have, in a sense, but it has been more a shouting match than a dialogue and has been riddled with sinister partisan motives rather than harmonious longings.