The American Trinity: The Three Values that Make America Great

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Oct 22, 2018

Nearly every country on Earth is defined by race or ethnicity. Not America. What makes the United States different? Dennis Prager outlines the values that have allowed the American people to flourish and, unlike immigrants almost everywhere else, transformed those who arrived from across the globe into full Americans—regardless of where they were born.

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The Left seeks to replace liberty with equality, “E Pluribus Unum” with multiculturalism, and “In God We Trust” with secularism.

  • Many leftists want to, in the words of former President Barack Obama, "fundamentally transform" America.View Source
  • That transformation is largely an attempt to imitate Europe, which tends to promote “positive rights,” like the right to welfare, over “negative rights,” such as property rights.View Source
  • The left “seeks to replace Liberty with egalitarianism, ‘E Pluribus Unum’ with multiculturalism, and ‘In God We Trust’ with a godless society,” writes Dennis Prager.View Source
  • “The right rejects the French Revolution and does not hold Western Europe as a model. The left does,” Prager writes. “That alone makes right and left irreconcilable.”View Source

“E Pluribus Unum” expresses America's commitment to making one unified nation of people from different backgrounds and beliefs. 

  • “E Pluribus Unum” means “out of many, one” in Latin. The motto is placed on one side of the Great Seal of the United States.View Source
  • When first adopted as an American motto shortly after the American founding in 1776, it referred to the thirteen American colonies becoming one nation.View Source
  • The “E Pluribus Unum Project,” funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, says of the motto: “Over the years, E Pluribus Unum has also served as a reminder of America's bold attempt to make one unified nation of people from many different backgrounds and beliefs.”View Source

The unifying call of “E Pluribus Unum” stands in opposition to the divisive rhetoric of the Left’s multiculturalism doctrine.

  • “One of America’s three fundamental principles has been e pluribus unum, or “out of many one”… And that is precisely what America has done,” writes Dennis Prager. “But since the 1960s, the left has supplanted e pluribus unum and its national American identity with the antithetical doctrines of diversity and multiculturalism.”View Source
  • “Over the years, E Pluribus Unum has also served as a reminder of America's bold attempt to make one unified nation of people from many different backgrounds and beliefs,” states the “E Pluribus Unum Project,” funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.View Source
  • Related reading: “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph” – Dennis PragerView Source

America’s commitment to protecting the liberty of its citizens means it promotes equality of opportunity, not outcomes.

  • America gives people the liberty to end up wherever their abilities, work ethic, and luck take them – meaning it allows people to experience unequal outcomes.View Source
  • A nation that embraces liberty for its citizens promotes equality of opportunity, not results.View Source
  • Forced equality restricts opportunity and liberty.View Source
  • “Unlike in most societies, for most Americans being poor is not a fate,” notes Dennis Prager. “The only time being poor becomes permanent is when noneconomic factors render it so.”View Source
  • WATCH: “Why We’re Losing Liberty” – Robert GeorgeView Source

The motto “In God We Trust” declares America’s foundational belief in unalienable individual rights endowed by the Creator.

  • As the Declaration of Independence states, all people “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”View Source
  • America never had a state religion, but the Founders believed human beings were God’s creation, and recognized the importance of God and faith in promoting moral citizens and a healthy society.View Source
  • “The American Founders considered religion — specifically ethical monotheism rooted in the Hebrew Bible — indispensable to the American experiment,” writes Dennis Prager.View Source

“In God We Trust” is a reminder of the importance of faith in sustaining a moral, healthy society. 

  • The Declaration of Independence makes clear that human rights come from God, not the government.View Source
  • The Founders believed faith in a Creator is necessary for moral citizens and a healthy society.View Source
  • Related reading: “Optimistic or Pessimistic About America?” – Dennis PragerView Source

Comparing the chaotic French Revolution to the successful American Revolution shows the uniqueness of America’s values.  

  • Like the American Revolution, the French Revolution also affirmed liberty, but it added “equality and fraternity.”View Source
  • The French Revolution, culminating with the violent Reign of Terror, was chaotic and destructive when compared to the American Revolution.View Source
  • “Equality and fraternity,” two pillars of the French Revolution, are values that cannot be enforced by the state. The American Revolution focused on the attainable goal of liberty.View Source
  • Related reading: “There Are Two Irreconcilable Americas” – Dennis PragerView Source

“Equality and fraternity,” two pillars of the brutal and bloody French Revolution, are values that cannot be enforced by the state. 

  • While the French Revolution affirmed liberty, like the American revolution, it also committed the government to creating “equality and fraternity.”View Source
  • The French revolution ended in the “Reign of Terror,” with the political executions of 40,000 people.View Source
  • “Equality and fraternity,” two pillars of the French Revolution, are values that cannot be enforced by the state. The American Revolution focused on the attainable goal of liberty.View Source
  • America’s Independence Day celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, while France’s Bastille Day celebrates a violent overthrow of the government.View Source

The Left has attempted to replace American values with European values.

  • The Left is consistently attempting to replace core American values with those of Europe, which tends to promote “positive rights,” like the right to welfare, over “negative rights,” such as property rights.View Source
  • The Left “seeks to replace Liberty with egalitarianism, ‘E Pluribus Unum’ with multiculturalism, and ‘In God We Trust’ with a godless society,” writes Dennis Prager.View Source
  • Related reading: “The Democrats’ Preoccupation with Inequality – Dennis PragerView Source

Race and ethnicity have defined every nation on earth. Except one: the United States of America. It is defined by values.

So, to understand America, you have to understand American values. 

They are:

1. “E Pluribus Unum

2. “Liberty”

3. “In God We Trust.”

I call this “The American Trinity.” I made up the name, but I didn’t make up the values. They are on every American coin.

The first, E Pluribus Unum, is Latin, meaning, “Out of many, one.” When first adopted as an American motto shortly after the American founding in 1776, it referred to the thirteen American colonies becoming one nation. Over time, however, most Americans understood the motto to mean one people from many backgrounds. To quote The E Pluribus Unum Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, “Over the years, E Pluribus Unum has also served as a reminder of America's bold attempt to make one unified nation of people from many different backgrounds and beliefs.”

In other words, America doesn’t care about your national or ethnic origins.

This explains why people who immigrate to America assimilate faster and more fully than immigrants to any other country.

Most of those who have immigrated to Europe, from, for example, Turkey – as millions have – are not considered fully German by fellow Germans or fully Swedish by fellow Swedes or fully Spanish by fellow Spaniards. This is even true of the children and grandchildren of those immigrants.

And, just as important, few of those immigrants – or their children or grandchildren – will ever feel fully German, Swedish, or Spanish. But a Turk who immigrates to the United States will be regarded as fully American – as American as any other American – the moment he or she becomes a citizen. And they – and certainly their children – will feel fully American.

Of course, America has not always lived up to this “e pluribus unum” ideal. But the ideal was always there. And it was applied to virtually every immigrant to America.

The second component of the American Trinity is liberty.

Now, you might ask, “Didn’t the French Revolution also enshrine liberty as a central national value? Wasn’t its motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”?

The answer is yes. America is hardly the only country to enshrine liberty; it is the only country to enshrine “Liberty,” “E Pluribus Unum,” and “In God We Trust.”

What’s the difference?

The difference is this: The moment you affirm equality, as the French Revolution did, you will lose liberty.

It is a basic American value that all human beings are born equal, and all must be equal before the law. But ending up equal – that's a French and European value. And if you want people to end up equal, you must deprive them of liberty. Which is exactly what happened right after the French Revolution and in every other society that made equality its national goal.

America gives people the liberty to end up wherever their abilities, work ethic, and luck take them – meaning unequal. Therefore, professional athletes will make more money than teachers or doctors. That may be unfortunate, but that is what liberty allows. If you want equality, you will tell people how much they can earn – and that means the end of liberty.

And third, In God We Trust.

Unlike almost every other country, America never had a state religion. But it was founded on the principle that God – specifically, the God of the Bible – is the source of moral values. As the Declaration of Independence put it, all people “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In other words, rights come from God, not from men. If rights are given by men, men can take them away.

The American Trinity is the reason America became the world's freest and most prosperous country. But many Americans want to, in the words of former President Barack Obama, "fundamentally transform" it. They wish to replace American values with European values – equality of result and an ever-expanding state, which greatly reduce individual freedom; the celebration of ethnic and racial identity, which is the opposite of E Pluribus Unum; and the removal of God as the source of morality and rights.

Which set of values Americans adopt will determine whether America remains free, prosperous, and the force for good in the world that it has been. With the exception of the Civil War, this is the greatest internal battle in American history.

I'm Dennis Prager.

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