Teddy Roosevelt: "We Have Traveled Far...": How to Look on Our Predecessors with Charity and Justice
“We have traveled far...“ said Teddy Roosevelt, looking back at the Puritans.
And we today, looking back at Teddy Roosevelt, have reason to say the same thing.
We can hope that, were Teddy with us today and were he given an opportunity for sober reflection and consideration, he would agree.
We can hope that he would agree that many of his attitudes towards women come out of an ideological and cultural superstructure, erected largely for the benefit of men, built on top of a near-Malthusian biological regime in which the typical woman spent 20 years of her life eating for two.
We can hope that he would agree that all of his fears about “race“ and its impact on America in his day have been falsified by the history of America since his.
And we can hope that, as far as “improving the breed“ is concerned, Roosevelt today would understand that, even on the narrowest perspective of what maximizes the survival probability of the human species as a breeding population, our genetic diversity is already so low that we cannot afford to further reduce it along almost any dimension—that "eugenics" as he understood it is a big no-no.
And we can welcome the valuable things that Teddy Roosevelt tried to carry forward from his time into ours...
There is nothing easier than to belittle the great men of the past by dwelling only on the points where they come short of the universally recognized standards of the present. .Men must be judged with reference to the age in which they dwell, and the work they have to do.... We have traveled far since [the Puritan's] day. That liberty of conscience which he demanded for himself, we now realize must be as freely accorded to others as it is resolutely insisted upon for ourselves.
The splendid qualities which he left to his children, we other Americans who are not of Puritan blood also claim as our heritage. You, sons of the Puritans; and we, who are descended from races whom the Puritans would have deemed alien—we are all Americans together. We all feel the same pride in the genesis, in the history, of our people; and therefore this shrine of Puritanism is one at which we all gather to pay homage, no matter from what country our ancestors sprang.
We have gained some things that the Puritan had not—we of this generation, we of the twentieth century, here in this great Republic; but we are also in danger of losing certain things which the Puritan had and which we can by no manner of means afford to lose.
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