United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Answering the Kennedys’ Call


The day after last Thursday’s DOW Index plunged 800 points, President Trump Tweeted a request that Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu block Congresswomen Ilhan Omer and Rashida Tlaib’s visit to Israel and the West Bank.

His action was more than an attempt to distract from economic policies that might be adversely affecting the financial markets. It was just his latest attempt to promote a fear of dark-skinned immigrants, in order to divide and conquer his real or imagined adversaries.

He wanted to stir up as much anti-Islamic sentiment as possible by painting them as the face of the Democratic Party, and Republicans the supporter of Israel, when both political parties staunchly support Israel, the only Democracy in the Middle East.

He is following the precedents of autocratic rulers everywhere that attempt to weaken those that oppose their autocratic behavior. But the United States was founded on the principle that we are equal, regardless of race or creed (though not always in practice).

Patrick Henry, the Revolutionary War patriot, was an early supporter of the United States as a delegate to the Confederate Congresses, though not the Constitutional Convention. His last public speech given in March 1799 said, “Let us trust God, and our better judgment to set us right hereafter. United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.”

The actual proverb, United we stand, divided we fall, is said to originate from an Aesop’s fable of a lion stalking oxen for his dinner, who realize they are only safe by herding together.

England was the predator ‘lion’ at the time that Patrick Henry believed could only be successfully opposed by a United States of America. Modern nations have avoided major conflicts and been kept safe by the same credo since WWII because they were united by alliances.

Any predator—whether a person or country—can only succeed in weakening the U.S. by exacerbating our divisions, whether between Red and Blue states, or white and dark races, or the rich and poor.

And we now have a predator in our White House that wants to instill a fear of immigrants to divide us.

But we can take comfort in what results from predatory behavior. Autocrats seldom last long in the modern world because they lack the one major element in human behavior that has evolved to create modern civilizations—empathy, or the understanding of others that comes from the realization we are all in this together.

Autocracies are considered pariahs by a civilized world, says Stephen Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature—Why Violence Has Declined.

In spite of modern populist movements that oppose the migration of darker-skinned populations to more prosperous (light-skinned) countries, the number of democratic countries has risen sharply to more than 90, while the number of autocracies has declined to just 10 in countries with more than 500,000 in population, cites Pinker from a 2009 Marshall & Cole study.

There is a good reason for the growth of modern democracies, continues Dr. Pinker. “Not only are democracies free of despots, but they are richer, healthier, better educated, and more open to international trade and international organizations.”

Democracies make their citizens more prosperous by inducing them to cooperate peacefully rather than quarrel amongst themselves. Patrick Henry’s cry, United We Stand, Divided We Fall, was a plea to oppose any behavior that threatens to weaken the United States of America—whether it is by fomenting trade wars, or culture wars.

Harlan Green © 2019

Follow Harlan Green on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HarlanGreen

About populareconomicsblog

Harlan Green is editor/publisher of PopularEconomics.com, and content provider of 3 weekly columns to various blogs--Popular Economics Weekly and The Huffington Post
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