Believers and unbelievers live happy and prosperous lives here. Freedom and prosperity are hard to come by, if you think about the rest of the globe. And yet a certain side of the political spectrum–the far left–constantly attacks her, even though they live comfortably within her protective boundaries. But if she gets too many body blows, she might eventually collapse.
Here are some ways to counter the accusations against her.
1. Slavery cancels any pride you feel about America back then and today.
“America is a racist nation,” I overheard a professor say, who meant she still is today. I agree that there are individual racists in this country, but to say the entire nation is racist today slanders me and the vast majority of Americans who are not. Most of us have moved on.
As for our past, let’s put things in perspective.
First, all the major nations participated in the abominable practice back then. Second, I like to read American history, and in a standard college sophomore history textbook, I learned something startling. Between 1526 and 1810, the New World imported 12 million slaves. British North America took in 427,000 of them in those years – less than five percent.
As to the Founders, you can be right about Points A-L, wrong about Point M, and right about Points N-Z and not be disqualified. Some of the Founders who owned slaves – not every one did – were wrong about slavery (Point M). But they were right about the other twenty-five points.
The vast majority of Americans – over eighty percent – did not own slaves.
No, I’m not excusing the oppressive institution, but America was not a uniquely and completely bad country back then.
Plus, we fought the Civil War (1861-1865). Over 700,000 men died. And then we passed the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery. Progress.
It’s always good to move forward. I for one am grateful I live in America today, even though some of my ancestors owned slaves.
2. Our treatment of Natives in the past also cancels any pride you feel about America today.
But let’s put things in perspective. In 1500, when the Europeans first arrived, in the continent north of the Rio Grande, 3-4 million Natives resided. So the population was very, very sparse compared to the land mass. When the settlers moved westward, they more often than not got along with the Natives just fine. The Quakers bought land from the Natives and asked permission to expand.
In a global perspective, the Scandinavians, also called the Vikings, went West and slaughtered and fought. Do I need to talk about the Islamic armies waging international jihad beginning in the seventh century and beyond? The Jews used to thrive in what is now Saudi Arabia, but they were driven out or slaughtered. And yes, the Native Americans fought each other and took over their enemy’s land before the Europeans came.
In all these examples, people got hurt. No, I’m not saying the settlers were as bad as those examples–not even close. My only point is that the world seems to be built on border disputes and takeovers.
Once again, America was not a completely and uniquely bad country back then. To repeat: the settlers often got along with the Natives.
More importantly for me, however, I want to live today. I want to take all the available opportunities to advance and enjoy America – today.
3. America’s military has been rapacious and a force for bad in the world.
I find that the best way to explain America’s military endeavors is through a nighttime satellite photo of the Korean peninsula. Our troops are on the Demilitarized Zone keeping back the darkness. That’s American “imperialism.”
We tried to do in Southeast Asia what we did in Korea: stop communism, an obviously very evil ideology. We won a partial victory, for in the Paris Peace Accords, signed in January 1973, we told the communists to stay up North, so the South could hold free and fair elections. However, Nixon, after his foolishness, resigned in August 1974. And then in November the left swept into Congress and defunded the peace in Vietnam, so the communists swamped the zone. In April 1975, Saigon fell. Countless people were slaughtered.
This current president similarly misread things in Iraq and withdrew our military. Slaughter has ensued.
It’s stunning to me that the American left can’t find their way through simple (not simplistic) foreign relations.
I can’t claim we’ve achieved moral perfection in our foreign policy over the years, but we’re still the best hope.
A strong America is a safer world. Imagine the world without her – under communism and Nazism.
4. America’s global economic dominance is a bad thing.
Globalization is “McDonaldization.” I heard that sneer in graduate school.
We are the world’s currency and the standard by which the economies of the world are better off. When we prosper, the world’s economies prosper. We are much more stable in our legal system and contracts, for example, than any other large nation.
The European Union can’t fill the need because it has disparate interests and governments and traditions. Worse, it’s dominated by socialism. If a government were to take over an industry, investors would be scared off, because a government-run industry degrades and doesn’t offer enough return on investments.
And China? It’s obvious its leadership can’t figure out how free markets work. They’re in the process of experimenting with them. Investors should be nervous.
And why does the Left want to restrict and control people in the first place? A relentless lust for power?
Sound advice to government bureaucrats who are suspicious of business: Let people have a maximum of options and their liberty.
So America’s economic “dominance” is beneficial because our prosperity is morally good.
5. America is a major cause of impending environmental disasters.
We didn’t sign the Kyoto protocols. The Keystone pipeline must be stopped. Fracking is horrendous. The president said that the rise of the oceans begins to slow and the Earth will heal. He currently is on a climate change speaking tour.
The American Thinker has been posting articles for years that teach us that credentialed scientists counter-argue that more proof needs to be offered that the temperature is rising or falling outside the normal range and that slowing down our economy will “fix” the imminent doom.
6. America is not exceptional.
Millions of people came over here on wooden ships to start a better life. At the beginning, we easily combined limited government with individual liberty. People could grow and prosper and pursue their own happiness their own way. Under old monarchies, nations of significance could not offer the same freedom.
We may not be the only democracy in the world today, but how free, in an expansive sense, can a nation be under socialism or quasi-socialism? Europe is stuck in it.
We may not be the only nation with free speech today, but our written First Amendment is over 230 years old, while monarchial European nations back then were scratching around looking for their written version.
We are exceptional because we are united and consequential. It matters to the world if other nations cooperate with us and help us spread the wealth around through free markets and peace through military strength.
7. Free-market capitalism at home is oppressive and fosters economic injustice.
Smart Democrat politicians never say out loud that free markets are bad. Their campaign slogan: government and business need to work together. Sound reasonable?
However, leftists really wantsto curtail and control free-market capitalism through big government because they believe they’re doing the right thing – stopping all sorts of injustices. As if socialism or communism is the answer.
This little rhyme helps me explain to students how free market capitalism works. When businesses grow, they hire people; when businesses slow, they fire people.
The rap-rhyme: grow hire, slow fire.
Businesses don’t grow if the government oppresses them with heavy taxes and slaps them around with regulations. But no free marketer wants anarchy or no rules; we just want the rules to be fair and liberating. We need to have a sensible government that gets out of the way of business, not an adversarial one.
Economic justice happens when people have good jobs.
8. The flag is a symbol of oppression.
But why was banning the flag the left’s impulse to begin with?
One time in my classroom, I walked over and kissed the flag. Some students groaned. They didn’t come back. I did it to prove a point. I have the freedom to appreciate this country, wherever I want. A college campus does not take away my rights. I live out my convictions because I have the better arguments.
The Stars and Stripes symbolize a good and honorable and decent nation.
9. The Constitution is old and slow.
In 2012 Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg went to Egypt and put the Constitution down.
This plea about its being old-fashioned is really a guise that leftists deploy when they want to impose their view on people. It was written in the 1780s, so it’s conservative by its nature, certainly by the standards of the left today. It restricts a relentless pursuit of power, thereby taking too much time for the impatient radical. For example, it says nothing about same-sex marriage or abortion, so the left has to go through interpretive distortions and gymnastics to find a right to both in it.
The Constitution is designed to be slow, so people can decide on issues in the legislative branch.
It’s about people power, not elitist power.
10. America is religious (it’s embarrassing).
I can’t answer for all religions in America, but I believe that moral law exists and comes from our Creator. Without him, morality becomes opinion, which fluctuates when a need changes. For example, Tribe A gets along with Tribe B, even though A has a better water source. But what happens when a disease sweeps through A and weakens them? Will B help them or attack them and take their land and water? Moral law says murder is wrong. Coveting is wrong. Helping is good.
Religion, rightly practiced and understood, reinforces moral law, so people can live in harmony in society.
Religion benefits us.
To wrap this up, I don’t know why leftists feel ashamed of the country that has treated them so well. Maybe their motive is irrational, like anorexia and bulimia are to a teenage girl. No, I don’t intend that to be funny. The point: irrational self-loathing is self-destructive.
I hope this piece helps you answer their accusations against a good and decent nation.
Gratitude is the best antidote to anger and bitterness.
This article appeared on American Thinker on September 4, 2015. It has been revised here. In the AT piece, please see a satirical rewrite of America the Beautiful, according to a leftist world view.
On 9/5/2015 I changed the title from “Accusations against America and replies to them” to the current one, which references the 1999 film Ten things I hate about you, a remake of The Taming of the Shrew.