Jewish World Review July 2, 2004 /13 Tamuz, 5764

Thomas Sowell

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Ever wonder why?, Part II | Ever wonder why some people hate America so?

This is not a new phenomenon nor one confined to foreigners. More than 20 years ago, Eric Hoffer said: "Nowhere at present is there such a measureless loathing of their country by educated people as in America."

Note that it is not the downtrodden masses but the pampered Ph.D.s who most vent their spleen at the country that protects and indulges them. When a friend who teaches at Harvard put an American flag sticker on his car, his astonished colleagues demanded to know: "What is that?!"

An American flag on a car or a home would have brought a similar outcry of amazement and disgust at Berkeley — and on elite campuses in between, all across the country.

Nor is such a posture confined to academia. Movie-maker Michael Moore is going around the world saying that the United States is "a crappy country" and its people "stupid" — while his movie "Fahrenheit 911" is being praised to the skies in the press and among the intelligentsia, as it puts its anti-American message on the screen.

What is there about America that sets off such venom — among Americans, of all people? One answer might be to look at the kinds of countries praised, defended, or "understood" by the intelligentsia.

For many years, the Soviet Union was such a country. After too many bitter facts about the Soviet Union came to light over the years to permit its rosy image to continue, much of the intelligentsia simply shifted their allegiance or sympathies to other collectivist countries, such as China, Cuba, or Vietnam in the Communist bloc or India, Tanzania and other collectivist regimes outside it.

It did not make a dent on intellectuals that people were fleeing the countries they praised, often at the risk of their lives, to try to reach the countries they were condemning — especially the United States of America.

What is wrong with America, in the eyes of the intelligentsia? The same things that are right with America in the eyes of others.

If one word rings out, and echoes around the world, when America is mentioned, that word is Freedom. But what does freedom mean?

It means that hundreds of millions of ordinary human beings live their lives as they see fit — regardless of what their betters think. That is fine, unless you see yourself as one of their betters, as so many intellectuals do.

The more the American vision of individual freedom prevails, the more the vision of the anointed fails. The more ordinary people spend the money they have earned for whatever they want, the less is available to the government as taxes to spend for "the common good" as Hillary Clinton recently put it.

The more people who raise their own children by their own values, the less is there a place for the collectivist notion that "it takes a village to raise a child," as Hillary has said elsewhere. Too many of our schools are convinced that they are that village.

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Cars and guns are both instruments and symbols of personal independence — and both are targets of hostility and even hatred by those who are convinced that they can run other people's lives better than those people can run their own lives. All sorts of claims are made against cars and guns, without the slightest interest in checking those claims against readily available facts.

When America frees ordinary people from the domination of their betters, and prevents them for being used as guinea pigs for the vision of the anointed, the more America insults the very presumptions that enable the anointed to think of themselves as special, as one-up on the rest of us.

Countries that impose a collectivist vision from the top down will be forgiven many atrocities, while a country like the United States that lets individuals go their own way will not even be forgiven its successes, much less its shortcomings.

As we celebrate both our country's independence and our individual independence on the Fourth of July, we should never forget that this independence is galling to those who want us to be dependent on them.

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JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, "Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One." (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) To comment please click here.


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