The Center of the American Experiment hosted Wilfred McClay this past Friday over lunch in Bloomington to speak on the abomination of Minnesota’s social studies standards in process. It was not only a great event, thanks to John Hinderaker letting me join him at the head table, the lunch gave me a chance to catch up briefly with Professor McClay.
Professor McClay holds the Victor Davis Hanson Chair in Classical History and Western Civilization at Hillsdale College. He is a member of the U.S. Commission on the Semiquincentennial, which has been charged with planning the celebration of the nation’s 250th birthday in 2026. Along with Thomas Sowell, Victor Davis Hanson, Charles Kesler, and our own Steve Hayward, Professor McClay is in my view one of the leading lights among conservative intellectuals.
He is the author, most recently, of Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story, published by Encounter Books along with a two-volume young reader’s edition. In his 2019 Power Line Show discussing the book with Professor McClay, Steve postulated that he is the antidote to Howard Zinn.
At the Miami National Conservatism Conference two weeks ago he spoke on the topic on the topic “On Being a Serious Country.” The text of his speech has not yet been published, but I tracked down the video on YouTube (below). It is brilliant and needed.
Quotable quote: “[H]ere is the question that concerns me most. Would a serious country so completely lose perspective on its own past that it would entertain the idea that the nation was founded on slavery, rather than on the ideals that have made it a beacon to the rest of the world? And would a serious country think it appropriate to teach its children that their nation’s past is best understood as a parade of horrors, to which the most appropriate response is not pride but lacerating shame?”