A hard look at US history
Your July 3 article "The other side of liberty" was very insightful. I am overjoyed that historians and scholars are finally looking at American history from a holistic perspective, creating honest portrayals of the development of democracy and liberty in America with all of its flaws and contradictions.
I am troubled, however, that many people thus far are not willing to acknowledge or confront the contradictions and biases of American history. We as Americans must continue to be brave enough to rethink our past - and honest enough to let go of the outdated idea that an acceptable and inoffensive presentation of history is more patriotic than the truth, facts, and historical records.
Andre L. Leaphart
Newport News, Va.
It was interesting to note the extensive caveats concerning the opening of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia as covered by the Monitor. The US Constitution was a courageous experiment in government at the time it was adopted. It is also necessary to recognize, however, that it reflected the social mores of its time. It is a tribute to the form of government created by that great document that it has managed to adapt to our changing and growing ideas of equality - although it took a Civil War and amendments to achieve this.
While we recognize the importance of the Constitution, let's treat it like a "work in progress" - a woman wasn't considered even to be a fraction of a person in terms of the rights and obligations of citizenship at the time of its writing. We should emphasize the amendments, which gave all of us - white, black, rich, poor, male, female, Christian, Jew, Muslim, gay, straight - the civil rights we now enjoy. Some of these amendments might have shocked the framers.
While the original document is an affront to African-Americans and to all women, it nonetheless was a foundation. It is a remarkable document, but also an imperfect one. Molding and strengthening it to reflect our spiritual growth as a people is a continuing process we can all embrace.
Nancy J. Young
Finding 'America' in other nations
Regarding the July 3 Opinion "What's so great about America": As a second-generation American of Armenian descent, I applaud Dinesh D'Souza's observations of this country's unique opportunities afforded to his father and mine. Their decision to leave the place of their birth and set out for this great nation benefited themselves, their families, and the people of the United States.
But let us consider the many nations from which our immigrants come. Do they benefit when the best and brightest of their children "abandon ship" for the American "lifeboat"? Some of our immigrants have no choice, perhaps facing death or prison at home, but as we celebrate our Independence Day, shouldn't we encourage the oppressed citizens of the countless nations to remain home and wage their own "American Revolution"?
Regarding your June 27 article "Suddenly, America has a brash neighbor up north": Truth be told, Canada is simply being more American than the United States. The US was founded on the principles of liberty, self-responsibility, unentangling alliances, free markets, limited government, individual rights, and the rule of law.
The Founders would have condoned many of the liberties espoused by Canadians with the exception of socialized services and high taxes. The US could learn a thing or two from Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin ... and Canada.
Lloyd Harbor, N.Y.
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