On February 14, 19-year old Nikolas Cruz entered a classroom building at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, pulled the fire alarm, and in the resulting confusion he proceeded over the course of the next six minutes to shoot and kill 17 persons, which included 14 high school students ranging in ages from 14 to 18 years old, a geography teacher, an assistant football coach, and the school’s athletic director. In addition to the dead, 16 other people were wounded or injured in the attack. Cruz used a legally purchased AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle in the slaughter, and much has been written and said in the past few weeks about the shooting, about the multiple failures of school administrators, law enforcement, and others, to prevent the senseless loss of life despite the many, many warning signs that Nikolas Cruz was a tragedy waiting to happen. Much of the vitriol and finger-pointing coming out of the mainstream news media has been directed at the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution, at law abiding Americans who own and use personal firearms responsibly, and at the National Rifle Association. The pain and anger over the Parkland shooting are completely understandable and completely appropriate. But is it really productive, or appropriate, to blame the 2nd Amendment and the NRA for what happened? We’re going to talk about it, here on the American Culture Podcast.
As a candidate, and as President, Donald Trump has said repeatedly that “If you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country.” President Trump campaigned on the promise of building a wall along our border with Mexico, as a means of strengthening enforcement of our immigration laws, and in order to enhance our National Security. We’re going to talk about President Trump’s Wall, why it is important, and how the promise to build that wall is much more significant than it might appear to be on the surface. Trump’s promise of a wall is intertwined with our American Culture and our history as a nation governed by laws, not by men. Trump’s Wall actually sits on the active fault line of a true Constitutional crisis. We are in a situation where an elected President is being pilloried by the Democrats and their accomplices in the media for merely trying to do his Constitutional job of seeing that the laws of the land are faithfully executed, where a former President is celebrated for placing himself above the law and NOT enforcing the duly enacted laws. And we have the Democrat minority in Congress willing to shut down the entire Federal government unless the President will break his oath of office and not enforce our immigration laws. This is why President Trump’s Wall is so important. It isn’t just about bricks and mortar. It’s not just a physical barrier to be used as a tool to help strengthen our southern border. That Wall is about our elected Government leaders keeping faith with the American people, it is about re-establishing our commitment to the Rule of Law, and it is about renewing our historical commitment to live as a Nation that is governed by laws, not by men.
What is happening in our country today? America seems to be deeply divided, along multiple fault lines. Emotions are running very high — over racial issues, economic differences, sexual mores, partisan politics, religious beliefs, and generational gaps. It feels chaotic – it feels dangerous. Is there some way to make sense of it all? We’re going to talk about all of it, here on the American Culture Podcast.
The purpose of today’s introductory episode is to officially launch the American Culture Podcast to the community of podcast listeners, explain the concept and goals of the project, and hopefully convince you to join us as we begin our exploration of American Culture.
When we ask the important questions about who we are as a country? and What it means to be an American? Where have we been? and Where are we going? we are asking questions about our culture. I strongly believe that these are vitally important questions to ask, that this is a vital discussion for all of us to participate in. What is our culture now? how is it changing? and how should it change? Who are we as a people? Who do we aspire to be as a nation? If we can honestly grapple with these questions, and maybe, hopefully, reach some sort of consensus, we stand a much better chance of putting all those other divisive issues into proper perspective, and context, and possibly achieving a better level of mutual understanding over them.
In this episode I explain what I mean when I talk about “culture.” The full definition can be a little dry and academic. But the core concepts, for me, are shared beliefs, assumptions, norms and values that are inherited, transmitted, and reinforced, and that form the basis for social actions. It is our shared system of beliefs that help us decide how to behave, as an individual, or as a group.
To bring it closer to home: It is what we teach our children. What do we teach our children about what it means to be an American, what it means to be a good citizen, a good person?
I hope you’ll join us!