Jewish World Review Sept. 24, 2001 / 7 Tishrei, 5761
Not the Bush administration and the military but the "blame America first crowd.''
The Baltimore newspaper "Afro-American'' has fired an early shot. The words of a recent editorial sounded sympathetic to critiques of America by the Taliban: "Statements from religious leaders...were both religious in nature and reflecting what African-Americans have been saying since slavery: America does not play fair.''
We can anticipate much more of this as naysayers and enemies of America's promise seek to undermine our resolve and unity. It has always been this way, starting with those who refused to sail with Columbus because they feared the world was flat and they would fall off the edge. It continued with those who feared war more than they loved freedom and thought the Colonies should cut a deal with the British rather than fight for independence.
In the last century, isolationists believed America had no business rescuing others from Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Hirohito. In fact, all had their defenders inside America, including aviator Charles Lindburgh, Walter Duranty of the New York Times, journalist Anna Louise Strong and various clergy who bore more allegiance to Earth than Heaven and were of use to neither.
We have heard such carping for too long. Environmentalists blame American corporations and consumers for dirty air and water and "global warming.'' The Third World blames the first because we have found the road to prosperity and they can't come up with enough coins to pay the toll. That's not our fault. It's their fault because they have chosen, or refused to overthrow, the wrong system of government, an oppressive religion, an unworkable economic system. Rather than emulate our success, they seek to drag us down to their level of failure. Rather than acknowledge their own shortcomings, they blame America in order to shift the responsibility.
The dividers and deriders say if I make $100 and you make only $50, then I owe you $25 just to make things fair. Those who built and sustained America would reply, "Here's how I made more than you, now go and do likewise.'' Today, the hate America crowd would call such an attitude "arrogant'' and "greedy.''
Many clergy in this country once were fellow travelers with communism. They found it attractive because it supposedly spread the wealth around. What it spread around was mutual poverty and oppression.
Why are some people so embarrassed about America? Why do they use the freedoms their predecessors fought and died for to run her down? America has done so much (ital) for (end ital) them. What did America do (ital) to (end ital) them that made them so angry? In fact, whatever wounds they have are mostly self-inflicted, because if you can't make it here you can't make it anywhere.
We've taken in the poor and huddled masses and let them breathe free but too many have said that's not enough. We've rebuilt the nations of former enemies. It's too little for some. Though not perfect, the civil rights we offer to our citizens of every racial and ideological background are better than in any other country, including every Islamic one. But for some it's not enough. We offer more help for the poor who wish to better their lives than probably any nation on earth, but we also demand responsibility and for that we are called insensitive and cruel.
It's long past time to stop apologizing for America. If things are so bad, let our detractors find or create a better country.
Some words from another time are worth considering: "We have certain standards of life that we believe are best for us. We do not ask other nations to discard theirs but we do wish to preserve ours...We reflect on no one in wanting immigrants who will be assimilated into our ways of thinking and living.'' -- Calvin Coolidge, newspaper column, Dec. 13, 1930
Too many native-born Americans, and some immigrants, do not feel
that way -- to their shame and, increasingly, to our