Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | August 10, 2009

What Is Un-American?

The Speaker of House – 3rd in line to the greatest power in the world, Nancy Pelosi (D/Socialist – CA) – called out what was un-American to her.   Not that anyone should care about anything she says as a serious comment about anything.

But, the comment begs a question.  What is un-American?

What has been un-American since 1776? 

Different political factions tried to use the label for political gain. 

Yet, there is a core to being an American.  Which defines what is un-American.  The late Prof. Sam Huntington thoroughy covers America’s national identity in his last book – “Who Are We?”

The fundamental culture – not ethnicity or religion – but culture that defines the U.S. includes key elements of “the English language; Christianity, religious commitment, English concepts of the rule of law; the responsibility of rulers, and the rights of individuals; and dissenting Protestant values of individualism, the work ethic, and the belief that humans have the ability and duty to try to create a heaven on earth, a “city on a hill.”    This culture produced the ideas which I’ve labeled as Enlightenment English Protestant.  Now, we call them – American.

These are the ideas of the Founding Fathers.  The ones held in common and the ones contested politically – but held in common as issues worthy of debate.

American ideas are what makes one American.  Ideas antagonistic to American ideas are un-American.

The ideas of the French Revolution are un-American.  Those ideas are the direct ancestor of the ideas of Human Secularists today.  Liberal, Socialist, Progressive, Nazi and Communist Human Secularists are branches of the same tree.   They are the ideas espoused by Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi on un-Americanism is like, “Ms Pot, please meet Mr Kettle.”



  1. Well, wait a minute, JAB – Does this mean that it is impossible to express an “American” idea in the French language?

    I’m with you in your general opposition to Pelosi’s trying to ostracize groups as being “Un-American”. My take, however, is that the concept of being “Un-American” is Un-American.

    The beauty of our country is that we were given a good start with a system intended to give ideas room to grow or fail in a kind of intellectual free market. If it works, it will have legs. If it doesn’t, it will wither. Our great, great strength historically is that we are not a particularly ideological polity. I sometimes feel that an understandable psychological need for more simplicity in a complex time, coupled with unprincipled politicians desire to manipulate public opinion without informing it, are leading us dangerously into more ideological thinking about our government and the world

  2. NoVa: Pas de tout.

    We agree to a point – and that point is there is a body of ideas that are in fact “American”. They’ve been written down for a long time – they include the ideas in the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address and you add one man: one vote, fair play, etc and you get the corpus.

    Within the body of ideas is a fair range from Jeffersonian de-centralization to Hamiltonian centralization, so left of center and right of center are accomodated as American. Socialism and the fundamental ideas of Secular Humanism (see my frequent genealogies from Diocletian forward to B Hussein Obama for their lineage) are in fact antithetical to the body of ideas that are “American.”

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