One of the most visual symbols of the current President is his red hat emblazoned with the letters MAGA, for Make America Great Again. It is a hat worn by those who support him and mocked by those who disdain him. Who thought a hat would become a lightning rod for confrontation?
One only has to look at the events of recent weeks to see how bitter and vitriolic the political climate has become. A group of Catholic teens attending the annual March for Life in Washington D.C. last month came under the harsh media spotlight as they waited for their bus near the Lincoln Memorial. An edited four-minute video released to the media gave the impression that the red-MAGA-hat-wearing mob of white boys were bullying a Native American Army Veteran. Pundits, both liberal and conservative, pounced. In a matter of hours, Hollywood celebrities and political leaders called for their scalps, literally.
Then the rest of the story came to light. Fortunately, an hour-long unedited video was available and vindicated the Kentucky Catholic teens; they were not the transgressors. Granted, their behavior may not have been perfect but the real bigots now appear to be those who rushed to judgment before all the facts became known. I wonder where all the real journalists have gone?
Few of the critics have yet to apologize.
Unfortunately, this kind of confrontation with the lies and snap judgments it promulgates, is becoming more the norm.
The red hat letters have prompted many on the Left to question whether America was ever great. In fairness to that perspective, one only has to look at how we have failed to meet the promises outlined in our Constitution. The rights to life, liberty, and property have all been denied at one time or another – Indians were denied their property (the Trail of Tears in the 1830s), Blacks denied their liberty (slavery) and the unborn child denied life (abortion). On the other hand, can you imagine what the 20th century would look like without the US military and economic power in World War II and its generous humanitarian efforts in the post-war era?
Greatness, it appears, is not so easy to define.
Some historians point out that America is great because America is good and when it ceases to be good, it will cease to be great. We can wear red MAGA hats, and we can debate America’s greatness and how it can be achieved/restored. But can greatness be achieved without a foundation of goodness?
Hearing the song America the Beautiful at the beginning of this year’s Super Bowl, reminded me of the earnest plea embedded in the opening stanza:
America! America God shed His grace on thee And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea.
Crown thy good with brotherhood? Maybe instead of wearing red emblazoned MAGA hats, we ought to seek a different kind of headgear. A crown of brotherhood depends on a goodness that only comes from God’s grace.
Make America Great Again? Let’s start with making America good again.