If you are as old as me, you might remember a popular 1974 record titled The Americans. The song was spoken by a Canadian news anchor Byron MacGregor defending post-Vietnam America when it being disrespected throughout the world. The American boomerang is a modernized, book-length update to The Americans, with Canadian MacGregor replaced by Australian author Nick Adams.
According to Adams, America is the greatest country in the world because of its conservative values, and although those values are deteriorating in the face of a progressive assault, America has always possessed an internal, self-correcting mechanism that will get us back on the right track:
- “Tocqueville once observed that ‘the greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”
Adams continually cites Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville, and although Tocqueville’s observations about American values and character are almost two centuries old, Adams is confident that most of them still apply. Examples:
- America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.
- The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public’s money.
- Society is endangered not by the great profligacy of the few, but by the laxity of morals amongst us all.
- There are people in Europe who, confounding together the different characteristics of the sexes, would make man and woman into being not only equal but alike. They would give to both the same functions, impose of both the same duties, and grant to both the same rights; they would mix them in all things – their occupations, their pleasures, their business. It may readily be conceived that by thus attempting to make one sex equal to the other, both are degraded, and from so preposterous a medley of the works of nature nothing could ever result but weak men and disorderly women.
- A thousand special causes have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the American upon purely practical objects. His passions, his wants, his education, and everything about him seem to unite in drawing the native of the United States earthward.
- Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot.
So, what are the values that Adams thinks make America so exceptional?
- The Cowboy spirit. [No argument here.]
- Old Glory (patriotism)
- Faith (Judeo-Christian)
- God’s troops (He’s on our side)
- Liberty (government protects our right to life, liberty, and estate)
- Competitive culture (capitalists)
- Self-made men (and women)
- Constitutionally limited government (protection against dictatorship of the majority
- Tradition (conservative values)
- Armed (the Second Amendment)
I find it hard to disagree with the author’s point that these values are the basis for American exceptionalism, but I also understand that others in our country want different values going forward. In fact, Adams spends two chapters denigrating secular humanists (“An Almost Treasonous Culture War”) and Radical Islam.
Although the boomerang reference is cute from an Australian perspective, Adams does little to support his theory that America will return to its historical roots and character. I suspect his ability is better at cheerleading for conservative causes than it is at seeing into the future.
But I hope he is right.