Monday, January 10, 2022

The Myth of the “City on a Hill”

Ronald Reagan described America as a shining city on a hill in his November 1980 speech. He returned to this theme in multiple speeches; notably in his last White House address in January 1989. By city on a hill, he meant that America was a beacon of hope. But a beacon of hope for whom? Not for the Native Indians who lost their lives or were evicted from their ancestral land; not for the Africans who were forced to toil as slaves; not for the people in nations which America and its allies invaded in the twentieth century. Several other American presidents (including Kennedy, Bush, and Obama) have described America as a city on the hill. 

The idea of America being a “city on a hill” has originated in a lecture that the puritan preacher John Winthrop gave, on March 21, 1630, to a group of Massachusetts Bay colonists. But America was never a city on a hill. It was always a militaristic, puritanical, and expansionist empire. From 1630, the Europeans were conducting continuous warfare to wipe out the Native Indian kingdoms and take control of North America. They were capturing millions of Africans and forcing them to work as slaves in their plantations. Today America operates close to 800 military bases in 70 countries—a true city on a hill would not need such geopolitical power. 

America was founded by Europe’s conquistadors, colonists, and slavers who were inspired by a universalist Christian faith. “Submit-or-die” was their blunt message to North America’s original inhabitants, the Native Indians. After winning the Second World War, the Americans started presenting themselves as the bastion of capitalism, which, they claimed, was a counter to Soviet communism. But American capitalism is as universalist as Christianity and communism—it aims to unite and subjugate the world. When the Americans fight wars, they aren’t fighting for liberty and democracy. They are fighting for world unity and submission.

The Americans are fearful of Islam for one reason: They know that Islam—like Christianity, capitalism, and communism—is an universalist faith. It demands total submission and is capable of uprooting Western power.

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