Jewish World Review Oct. 17, 2001 /30 Tishrei, 5762

Stanley Crouch

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Red, White Blue,
black and white -- IN the blizzards of red, white and blue, in so much of the simple-minded commentary on television, in the hysteria of so much written opinion, it is sometimes difficult to realize that the troops and commanders we are using in this war, on every level, in and out of the service, personify what we have achieved within our borders: a country where all colors and creeds can serve and savor America.

Perhaps, after all the recrimination and the charges that we brought it on ourselves, or that the chickens are coming home to roost, or that America is the greatest terrorist in the world, we will be able to sit back and think about ourselves for a bit.

We might come to recognize just what we have going and why we need not lose any kind of confidence when the going gets rougher - if it does.

When President Bush spoke at his inaugural, he observed that our country was founded by a group of men that included slaveholders. We should never forget that. But nor should we forget that the document they created allowed us to right our social wrongs at whatever pace society was ready for.

In the Civil War film "Gettysburg,"    "(DVD) Jeff Daniels delivers one of the finest pieces of American rhetoric in the history of our cinema. Whether or not it was actually given by a Union officer is something I'm not sure of, since the film was based on a novel. But that matters less than what the character said.

He observed that it was a new kind of war because it was being fought not for spoils, or because a king wanted a war, but to set men free. America was to be a place where you could build a home and not be judged by what your father was. In the end, he concluded, we are fighting this war for one another.

Anyone who walks through New York or who has traveled this country becomes aware of the many different kinds of people who are Americans, or who are becoming Americans. They are short and tall, light and dark, with different eye colors and hair textures, and they speak with a number of accents.

They worship different gods or none at all or they argue about the foolishness of worshiping anything other than human life itself.

America may well have made a number of foreign policy mistakes, and we may well have supported some unsavory regimes and toppled some other governments and so on. Let the record show what it will and let us learn from our mistakes.

But we should know that we did not make a mistake when we fought to make this country live up to more and more of its ideals and to free slaves and women to become what they could. And we are not mistaken as we still fight to get this nation right. Defending that kind of glory is all right with me.

JWR contributor and cultural icon Stanley Crouch is a columnist for The New York Daily News. He is the author of, among others, The All-American Skin Game, Or, the Decoy of Race: The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994,       Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives, and Don't the Moon Look Lonesome: A Novel in Blues and Swing. Send your comments by clicking here.


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© 2001, NY Daily News