Jewish World Review Jan. 5, 2004 / 24 Teves, 5765
Is everybody happy?
The American taxpayers are on the hook for at least $350 million in direct aid to the victims of the Christmas tsunami, and the final tally will be closer to $1 billion. American warships have arrived in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, bringing food, medicine and expertise to help the hurting and recover the dead. American citizens have spontaneously donated millions in cash to help the victims of this disaster--$3 million at an Amazon.com website in just 48 hours. And to top it off, President Bush has sent two former presidents to panhandle across the country for millions more in donations.
NOW are you happy?
Will the "stingy American" smackdowns finally stop? Will John Kerry's global-test crowd get off our backs about per-capita government spending on foreign aid? Will the media stop portraying America as the evil villain of the world stage?
I have little hope the editorial-page writers at The New York Times will be influenced by them, but I'd like to inject a few facts into the conversation.
Right now, American taxpayers give more direct cash aid than anyone else in the world. We also give more food aid than every other country in the world combined. And in our spare time, we Americans also gave more than $240 billion in charity last year.
And while it will no doubt inflame the Arab streets for me to mention it, a key part of America's unprecedented generosity to the world is our willingness to spend our money and risk our soldiers' lives defending other people's borders. Europe, South Korea, Taiwan, Kuwait and a dozen other places around the globe are free today because Americans have aggressively patrolled their borders.
Too bad we don't work as hard defending our own. But we don't, as a favor to the people of Mexico, most of whom also hate us.
So that's the real American record of global generosity: Billions of dollars, thousands of lost lives, an insecure border, a heavier burden on our taxpayers a century of commitment to helping other people solve problems we had no hand in causing, and what do we get in return?
More bitching. More bashing. More attacks on President Bush.
Well, I have a message from my fellow Americans to all the corrupt, useless Euroweenies at the United Nations, and it involves your lips and our behind.
You ungrateful jerks. Didn't your momma teach you that there is only one right response when someone gives you billions of dollars in cash, food and protection? "Thank you." That's it. No other response is acceptable.
And you know what? We Americans don't even expect that small bit of common courtesy. The taxpayers I hear from are sick of the greedy hands clutching at us yet again, but they don't expect thanks. They just want the rest of the world to stop whining. You don't say "thank you so much" or genuflect or tip your hat, you receivers of American largesse. Just shut up.
Instead we get a non-stop barrage of carping and ankle biting from the usual suspects: Third-world despots and their lackeys with open pockets and no accountability; U.N. bureaucrats who have never solved a single, significant problem and wish America could say the same; and the anti-American wing of the Left, who secretly wonder why a just G-d doesn't turn tsunamis away from south Asia and toward red states like South Carolina.
And of all the accusations against the generous people of America in the past two weeks, the most outrageous is the claim that we should do more in Indonesia and Sri Lanka because we owe it to the Muslim world. The argument is that we have a P.R. problem among Muslims and we should pour more money into south Asia to improve America's reputation.
First of all, there is no amount of money that will convince the same people who think 9/11 was a Zionist conspiracy that America isn't the Great Satan. If watching American soldiers get shot at to protect Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq won't improve our reputation with the Islamists, then a sack of cash certainly won't.
But how can any thoughtful person make the argument that, in 2005, it is America that has a P.R. problem in the Muslim world, not vice versa? Is America decapitating aid workers on videotape? Is America blowing up police stations and murdering Muslims to stop them from voting? Is America letting Sri Lankan tsunami victims go without help because it's being offered by Israel? Does America practice the brutal, sexist tradition of female genital mutilation, or execute homosexuals or ban minority religions?
Then how did we get to be the bad guys?
You can find all of these horrors and more! in the Muslim world today. Not all Muslim nations do these things, of course. We're only talking about a few hundred million people. No big deal, I know.
But please. Could America at least get the same forgiving attitude from the United Nations for our "failings" that they regularly extend to Syria, Cuba, Sudan and (when Saddam was in charge) Iraq?
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JWR contributor Michael Graham is a talk show host and author of the highly acclaimed "Redneck Nation: How the South Really Won the War." To comment, please click here.
© 2005, Michael Graham