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THE AMERICAN STORY, SPLINTERED, AND THOSE VYING TO TELL IT

What does the United States of America mean?

Perhaps it’s Storyline No. 1: Americans are part of an epic tale of equality, of optimism and trajectory, a steady path toward prosperity that includes everyone from the melting pot working together to form a more perfect union. Its best days are still ahead.

Maybe it’s Storyline No. 2: The United States was brutal, unfair from the get-go, colonized by quarreling white European factions that shared little but a tendency to overrun indigenous cultures and hold human beings as property. Its best days, if there really were any, are receding.

Or is it somewhere in between: countless shades of gray — infinite competing and overlapping visions of America, including many from those

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