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Manifest Destiny, 2001

Manifest Destiny, 2001

Joy Bushnell

2 Mins
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March 31, 2010

October 18, 2001 -- “Manifest Destiny” is the term originally created by John L. O’Sullivan in the 1840s to describe America's westward expansion to Texas, California, and beyond. In addition to the land, a prime motivation was the feeling of spreading our freedom. We were intensely proud of our achievements, proud of the kind of government we had created and the freedom we had attained. So proud, we just couldn't help spreading our joy and happiness to the ends of the earth. Do nations have some purpose or destiny? Is it our obligation, as a great nation, to expand both physically and ideologically to the ends of the earth?The attack on one of the finest achievements that was born from our “can do” way of life is an awful reminder of how far we have come in 150 years. It would have been incomprehensible to an American of the 1840s to hear today’s Americans apologizing for their success, feeling guilty for it, and—worst of all—believing we should not attack in retaliation because we “deserved it.” Would you cut your child's hands off for mastering a difficult piece of music? Or his legs for making the game-winning goal?

If you happen to run across one of the pacifists on leave from the insane asylum, ask those questions.

If the terrorists and the countries that spawn them can make us feel guilty for being right, guilty for being successful, guilty for making the judgment that freedom is good and proving it beyond a shadow of a doubt, we have already lost—and all the shows of patriotism in the world won't make a bit of difference to our future.

On the other hand, there are also those in America who cite a laundry list of wrongs going back over 50 years committed by various nations in the Middle East and propose we “nuke the hell out of them” and take back what is “ours.” This shouldn’t be a war of retribution for wrongs America did not act on at the time. It was wrong of us not to act when the events occurred, and we should take responsibility for our inaction. But now, we are acting in self-defense against the terrorists who killed thousands of innocent people, and we are fighting for the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We don’t need a laundry list of past grievances to justify our actions. To imply that is the worst kind of apology of all.

It is time to continue with the Romanticism of 1840s America—not in the acquisition of lands in the Middle East as some Americans are screaming for, but by exporting that which is really responsible for our wealth and success—our ideas. We've been a beacon for the world despite our growing pains and our errors. We should be proud of what we have accomplished, and we should not fall into the trap of waging merely a war of retribution.

Let's rout the dens of terrorists and continue our outward expansion with the ideals that have made us the nation we are. We have right on our side, and we should never forget it. It doesn't hurt that we have the might either—as well as the reason and rationality to use it responsibly, adhering to the ideals that founded this nation. Let's spread our ideas, our dreams, and our positive sense of life to the world, especially in those areas where people only look for death.

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