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Myths America Lives ByWhite Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning$
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Richard T. Hughes

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042065

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042065.001.0001

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The Myth of the Innocent Nation

The Myth of the Innocent Nation

The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

(p.198) Chapter Seven The Myth of the Innocent Nation
Myths America Lives By

Richard T. Hughes

University of Illinois Press

While the myth of the Innocent Nation weaves a tale that is objectively false with no redemptive qualities, it is one of the strongest of the American myths in terms of its hold over the American people. That myth, like the nation itself, hangs suspended between the golden age of an innocent past (Nature’s Nation) and a golden age of innocence yet to come (Millennial Nation). Suspended in that vacuous state, Americans imagine that history is irrelevant. How could it be otherwise? Nothing destroys a sense of innocence like the terrors of history taken seriously. Anchored by the pillars that stand at the beginning and end of time, the myth of the Innocent Nation flourished during every modern conflict beginning with World War I, but especially when the nation faced enemies like Nazi Germany in World War II or Isis during the War on Terror. The irony was obvious, for even as the nation proclaimed its innocence, black soldiers, for example, returned from World War II only to face brutality and segregation in their own nation. Countless blacks from Muhammed Ali to Toni Morrison to James Baldwin to Ta-Nehisi Coates have protested that irony in the American myth of Innocence.

Keywords:   Innocent Nation, World War I, World War II, Nazi Germany, War on Terror, Isis, Muhammed Ali, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates

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