If the Jews made Jerusalem famous, the Protestants made the New Jerusalem of America a light unto the nations. By Protestants, I mean the founders of our civil religion; the architects of many mansions on behalf of laws, language, culture, institutions, literature, history, and tradition. More specifically, I mean the way of those men who were White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs). I mean the way of Americans of every faith—Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—and of almost every point of view.
One man shows us the way: Richard Brookhiser. Columnist, patriot, American; Brookhiser is the author of (among other books) The Way of the Wasp: How It Made America and How It Can Save It . . . So to Speak.
The book is a profile in courtesy, praising the character of good men; highlighting the acts of America’s greatest men; encouraging readers to emulate the goodness necessary to keep America great.
The book is a primer for practicing civility and promoting citizenship, as the latter is improbable without the former. Witness the weeks preceding Independence Day, 2020: those who seek to erase history have no respect for respect itself.
Just as violent criminals do not ask permission to rob or murder, vandals do not concern themselves with property rights or civil rights. What matters to the least civil among us does, however, matter to the future of civility. Whether we have a country depends on what we do to protect our culture; the culture of the WASP, not the church where he worships—which, in fact, is a Jewish-founded, Japanese-owned clothier, J. Press, in New Haven, Connecticut.
That Brookhiser is not a WASP proves his point about the Americanness of the values he extols. Values like honor, decency, gratitude, and integrity. From these values do statues take shape. From these values do men build monuments and memorials. From these values does Brookhiser chronicle the heroism of men such as Washington, Adams, Morris, Marshall, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.
Fluent in our founding documents, Brookhiser is also the host of a fine documentary about Marshall’s tenure as chief justice of the United States.
Brookhiser’s oeuvre represents his dedication to the proposition that all men are created equal. His books offer a bold defense of liberty. His devotion to America is a noble testament to the last, best hope of earth.
Happy Fourth of July.