The myth of the West has less benign implications for understanding American history, helping to explain America's isolationist past, its scale of violence and propensity toward imperialism. Of course, what those of us who stand aside from mythic explanations tend to realize is that many other factors have played into America's historical isolationism, or its high rates of civil violence, or its imperial global inclinations-factors other than its Western geography and frontier past-all of which suggests a series of counter-narratives that reduce the so-called myth of the West to something less powerful and pervasive, less capable of explaining America. And that provides a mixed answer to the second question, "What's Myth Got to Do With It?," an answer that reduces, after all, to "not much, and everything." After all the various images, symbols, and myths have been duly reviewed and catalogued, we're left simply unclear about the relation between Americans' beliefs and their history, except to know that both their beliefs and their history are different from Mexico's and Canada's, despite shared borders, shared landscapes, even shared institutions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Earth-Surface Processes