The experience of the gangster as an experience of art is universal to Americans. There is almost nothing we understand better or react to more readily or with quicker intelligence. In ways that we do not easily or willingly define, the gangster speaks for us, expressing that part of the American psyche which rejects the qualities and the demands of modern life, which rejects Americanism itself.
The spiritual kinship between Lincoln and Whitman was founded upon their Americanism, their essential Westernism. Whitman had grown up without much formal education; Lincoln had scarcely any education. One had become the notable poet of the day; one the orator of the Gettsyburg Address. It was inevitable that Whitman as a poet should turn with a feeling of kinship to Lincoln, and even without any association or contact feel that Lincoln was his.
The Jew is neither a newcomer nor an alien in this country or on this continent; his Americanism is as original and ancient as that of any race or people with the exception of the American Indian and other aborigines. He came in the caravels of Columbus, and he knocked at the gates of New Amsterdam only thirty-five years after the Pilgrim Fathers stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock.
I hate this shallow Americanism which hopes to get rich by credit, to get knowledge by raps on midnight tables, to learn the economy of the mind by phrenology, or skill without study, or mastery without apprenticeship.
Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic, expression of Americanism. Thus, the founding fathers of America saw it, and thus with God's help, it will continue to be.
In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American.
Let me say this: I believe closing Guantanamo is in our Nation's national security interest. Guantanamo is used not only by al-Qaida, but also by other nations, governments, and individuals - people good and bad - as a symbol of America's abuse of Muslims, and it is fanning the flames of anti-Americanism around the world.
Hence from all we have hitherto said, it is clear beloved Catholics that we cannot approve the opinions which some [Protestants, Jews, and other heretics] comprise under the head of Americanism [freedom].