Friday, February 22, 2013

Here's to George Washington and all True Heroes!

According to the Gregorian Calendar, George Washington was born on this day (February 22) in 1731. (Though smarter people than me have pointed out this isn't necessarily super clear). George Washington has been called the indispensable man in American history. It's a moniker that he well deserves. Without George Washington, there would likely be no United States today. (See "What if George Washington Had Never Been Born?")

It became fashionable in the 20th century (and remains so in many circles today) to downplay the importance of "great men" in favor of the contributions of everyday people. Historians like the late Howard Zinn championed this revisionist take on history. What historians like Zinn (and I'm being kind not to put that word in quotation marks when it comes to people like Zinn) fail to acknowledge, however, is that it was the common people who elevated folks like Washington to hero status. The American people respected, adored, and followed George Washington. They made Washington a hero, and rightly so. George Washington was the greatest leader in American history, and arguably one of the greatest leaders in all of world history. This isn't because of some Grand Conspiracy of "Elites." It's because the people of Washington's day were smart enough to recognize a man of high character and immense significance when they saw him. In a very real way, "historians" like Zinn (sorry, I can't resist the quotation marks any longer), when they slander and diminish "great men" like Washington, are insulting the common people - the very people they claim to speak for!

As I point out in my latest blog post over at the American Revolution and Founding Era blog (see "George Washington: Mightiest Name on Earth"), George Washington was not perfect. He had his flaws and his sins -- just as we all do. But if we can't consider George Washington a true, genuine hero, then heroism has no meaning. And those people who've become so cynical that they can no longer respect heroes (not even heroes like Washington), well, such people are in a very sorry state indeed. They are to be pitied, but they must certainly not be followed.


jimmiraybob said...

Poor old Howard, getting no respect for being an honest historian merely because he presents the darker side of the myth. I doubt that you and I differ all that much in our respect for Washington, but I embrace knowing the flaws and sins, as you put it; it helps me keep him on an earthly plane. Makes me think that even I might grow up to be President. Pity me if you will.

On the other hand, it's not just Zinn and modern cynics (especially those damn busybody secularists) that might see a darker side to hero worship....some, not so much me, might even suggest idolatry. Like this guy:

Pity all around.

Brian Tubbs said...

I don't pity people for wanting to study and learn the whole truth (including the bad stuff) of America's past. We have to learn about the bad stuff, as well as the good, in order to learn from the past.

But when one focuses almost exclusively on the bad stuff of the past, to the extent that one engages in slander, fosters cynicism, etc., then we have reason to be very concerned.

Anonymous said...

you people do realize this is not founded on religion do your research our founding father wanted the opposite of what is happening today in the goverment and our schools. religion should not be involved in several things such as; science,the goverment,school,etc.