“La Belle Americaine” is a phrase often repeated in this story. It appears in the diary which Abby Long finds hidden in a beautiful antique desk she buys at auction. But it isn’t used to describe the person I believe is the truly “Beautiful American” in this story.
Jasmine is a slave who providentially comes to live on the plantation of James Monroe around the time he serves as ambassador to France. This story is about slavery only incidentally. Mostly it’s about true freedom. The polar characters Gabriel and Jasmine exemplify two kinds of bondage. Gabriel rebels violently. He has reason to be bitter. But Jasmine serves cheerfully and dutifully. Jasmine asks for nothing but is given clothes, an education, and a privileged place in the household. The mesmerizing, powerful Gabriel seeks to take what he wants by force. Gabriel insists Jasmine is “his girl” and he is coming for her someday.
Andre is a charming example of the right kind of man, a rare thing in modern fiction. His master demands a hole in the roof to get the right lighting for his artist’s work. But Andre isn’t above climbing up to plug it when they need to keep out the rain. He is a gentleman even while being a persuasive wooer. He has plans, and he’s not just dreaming about them, he’s working to make them a reality. His possibilities in the midst of Jasmine’s insistence on impossibilities make the story that much sweeter.
The frame tale in modern times also includes a good man, Nathan Edwards. He’s also a hard worker, decisive, able to make dreams come true and lead Abby to find a new life. James Monroe is also a good man, loving his wife, calling her his “champion,” finding ways to make his whole family stronger and wiser and happier in subtle ways.
One of the saddest lessons I learned about modern culture is the fact that many people jump to conclusions without reading more than one or two lines. The facebook post “A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left,” Ecclesiastes 10:2, created a firestorm. Solomon wrote this 3000 years ago, but modern parallels seem obvious. It seems that people who think of themselves as modern “progressives” or the Left, do not know the history of these terms and become infuriated when they are used properly.
The most important meaning of left hand and right hand is the final judgment. “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:32-34
The modern use of the “right” and “left” come from the French Revolution. In 1789 AD, the National Assembly in France divided between supporters of King Loius XVI who sat on the President’s right and supporters of the revolution who sat on the President’s left. The local French press called these political positions the right and the left. When the Legislative Assembly replaced the National Assembly with all new members in 1791, the self proclaimed “Innovators” or “Progressives” sat where the left sat in the National Assembly. Next to them, in the middle, sat the self proclaimed “moderates” or “centrists.” The remaining seats were called the “right” though these men represented many different views.
One hundred years later came the rise of Communism. Various groups, such as trade unions, civil rights movements and Utopians allied themselves with Communism and called themselves “the Left.” The phrases “Left” and “Progressive” were the labels these people chose for themselves and promoted in thousands of books, pamphlets and speeches. From Russia to the United States journalists began using these terms. The Left was the name of those who supported Communism in some way. People who partially supported some form of Communism were called “moderates” by the Communists and the Press. Whoever opposed Communism was called “the Right.” The terms left or progressive, center or moderate and “right wing” are neither insults nor precise. They have been used this way for over 200 years
The terms “right wing” or “the right” are Communist terms used by Communists. All that a Communist means by the term “right-wing” is “opposed to communism.” Joseph Stalin called Adolph Hitler “right wing” because Hitler’s Germany attacked Communism. Lenin called the supporters of the British crown “right wing.” In the United States, the term “right wing” means a supporter of the United States Constitution and private property.
Not every “progressive” today is a Communist. Today the terms “left wing” and “right wing” are so common that the meanings are blurred. But all “progressives” are some sect or denomination of Secular Humanism. Secular Humanism is known throughout the world, but in America it is now our Establishment of Religion. The main purpose of America’s government-funded school system exists to indoctrinate into this belief system. We explain the religion of Secular Humanism in more detail in our book Antidisestablishmentarianism. Our blog has both the preface and the introduction as well as links to purchase.