An Open Letter to Our Fellow American Citizens
We stand at the crossroads.
Over the next several years, the noble sentiments and ideas that gave birth to the United States will
either be repudiated or reaffirmed. The fateful choice before us will result either in the death of a
grand hope or a recommitment to an extraordinary political experiment whose full flowering we have yet to
realize. The choice will involve either contempt and despair or gratitude and the self-respect worthy of
a free people who know long labors lie before them and who proceed with hope toward a dignified future.
In the name of justice and equality, those animated by contempt and despair seek to destroy longstanding
but fragile American institutions through which justice and equality can be secured. Destruction of these
imperfect but necessary institutions will not hasten the advent of justice and equality but rather
accelerate our collapse into barbarism and degradation.
Groups of Americans who today advocate endless racial contempt, who systematically distort our history
for political gain, who scapegoat and silence whole groups of citizens, who brazenly justify and advocate
violence and the destruction of property invite us not to justice and equality but to an ugly future
whose only certainty is fear.
In the face of this threat, the American institutions we must now reaffirm are these:
Too many of our media outlets have become shameful caricatures intent on purveying one-sided
narratives rather than on wrestling with difficult issues about which reasonable citizens will
disagree. They inflame rather than inform. They contort public debate rather than contribute to it.
Rather than defend freedom of speech and association, they have become instruments of a despicable
“cancel culture,” bereft of forgiveness and intolerant of opposing views.
Our Constitution establishes a democratic republic. Our elected representatives are tasked with
making laws for the common good. If citizens are dissatisfied with the results, they must elect
different representatives rather than take the law into their own hands. Abandoning representative
government does not hasten equality; it invites tyranny. “Defunding” (as opposed to intelligently
reforming) the police, who uphold the laws our political representatives make, does not hasten
justice; it invites anarchy and abandons the most vulnerable to the worst depredations.
Our country is diverse. We cannot produce a unity amidst diversity by forcing all citizens to fit
the singular mold that politically correct speech imposes. A diverse polity can exist only within
the framework of federalism, which allows true pluralism to thrive.
The United States was conceived as a middle-class commercial republic in which entrepreneurial
citizens can succeed and fail—then succeed again. This arrangement, however imperfect, has produced
remarkable prosperity and lifted millions out of poverty. Naïve calls for state control of industry
and the abolition of private property, if implemented, will return us to the nightmare that hundreds
of millions endured in the last century. The middle class and those who wish to join it are
threatened today by two additional obstacles: crony capitalism, which concentrates wealth in fewer
and fewer hands, and woke capitalism, by which the political left extorts corporate support for
social justice causes, thus deflecting entrepreneurial energy away from the important task of
producing truly useful products and services. Policymakers and concerned citizens must emphatically
resist these trends and instead promote avenues to help the poor join the middle class.
The necessary task of preparing the next generation to preserve and expand our inheritance has been
replaced by the morally bankrupt task of repudiating those figures and accomplishments of our past
which do not pass ideological purity tests. Rather than learn the difficult moral lesson that amidst
the imperfections of the human heart there are noble longings for goodness, truth, and beauty, our
young people are taught that any imperfection repudiates those noble longings. By this we teach our
children to search out and honor grievances rather than greatness. This is not education; it is
indoctrination, and its result is to make life small, petty, and hopeless.
- Family. An affirmation of the traditional family—the belief that men and women
should be encouraged to marry and have sons and daughters—cannot be thought a crime.
Civilization perishes unless such unions are encouraged. The noble longing for a plural
society, in which not all are cast in the same mold, must not be realized by belittling the
family. Strong families headed by married couples have been the key to success in black
America ever since slavery was abolished a century and a half ago, and this remains the
key today for all Americans.
- Religion. Civilization is fragile. If religious institutions and beliefs are
marginalized and mocked, the indispensable civilizational supports for a free and decent
life will quickly vanish. In a plural society like America, people are free to pursue their
own paths to truth. But a truly plural society cannot abide the deliberate attempt to
undermine, and even destroy, churches and synagogues. A pluralism that denies the
legitimacy of religious faith and practice will not produce a “diverse” America; it will,
instead, produce a tyrannical America in which the freedom of conscience is lost, the
inherent dignity of the individual is denied, and the strongest support for just and moral
living is erased. As Alexis de Tocqueville noted, despotism can do without religious faith,
but freedom cannot.
Those who attack these American institutions insist that their foundations have been corrupt from
the beginning. They insist that racism, injustice, and oppression are inextricably linked to our
national identity, and therefore everything born of the American experiment is tainted by sin. In
their revolutionary fervor, they wish to sweep aside everything identified with our history and
establish a new social and political order on novel and untainted foundations. They show no
humility or self-restraint. They display limitless contempt for opposing views. They sympathize
with vile tyrannies, disdain the rule of law, attack market commerce, hide behind the privilege
their university indoctrination has authorized, excoriate the family, and attack those very religious
traditions which have produced a moral horizon transcending tribalism and given rise to the
concern for justice and equality for all. Their philosophy of pure negation cannot sustain a political
order that affirms liberty, human dignity, and moral and civic equality, rightly and humanely
This crisis is acute, and the hour is late. Like our forebears, we aim both to conserve and reform
our institutions in light of enduring principles of justice. That is the task of self-governing people
who know they live in an imperfect world and yet are not deterred by its challenges.
We invite all citizens of good will to join us so that together we can strive for liberty and justice
Jeremy Beer — The American Conservative
Daniel J. Mahoney — Assumption University
Joshua Mitchell — Georgetown University
Mark T. Mitchell — Patrick Henry College
Robert Woodson, Sr. — 1776 Unites
William B. Allen Emeritus Dean and Professor, Michigan State University
Brian Anderson City Journal
Hadley Arkes Founder and Director, James Wilson Institute
Andrew J. Bacevich Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
Michael Barone American Enterprise Institute
William J. Bennett Former Secretary of Education
Johnny Burtka The American Conservative from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute
Victor Davis Hanson Hoover Institution
Rod Dreher The American Conservative
Mary Eberstadt Faith and Reason Institute
Michael P. Farris President, Alliance Defending Freedom
Allen C. Guelzo Princeton University
Os Guinness Senior Fellow, Oxford Centere for Christian Apologetics
Yoram Hazony Edmund Burke Foundation
Charles Kesler Claremont McKenna College
Roger Kimball Encounter Books
James Howard Kunstler Author and blogger
Glenn C. Loury Brown University
Rich Lowry National Review
Harvey C. Mansfield Kenan Professor of Government, Harvard and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Daniel McCarthy The Fund for American Studies
Wilfred M. McClay University of Oklahoma
John McWhorter Columbia University
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
John Podhoretz Editor, Commentary
R.R. Reno Editor, First Things
Diana Schaub Professor of Political Science, Loyola University Maryland
Carol Swain Professor of Political Science and Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University
George Weigel Ethics and Public Policy Center
Ryan Williams President, Claremont Institute
John Wood Jr. Braver Angels
Jean Yarbrough Professor of Government and Gary M. Pendy, Sr. Professor of Social Sciences,
* Affiliations are for identification purposes only.
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