Culture · Politics

In Praise of America

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FIRST CUP OF COFFEE: I feel like going back to bed. A few days ago I read about my corrupt governor, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, saying that “America was never great.” And then today I read about a guy who went to Washington Square Park in NYC and interviewed some students from NYU. They agreed with Cuomo—were even more critical. America has never been great, It’s just a POS. Good Grief!

Neither Cuomo or these kids know beans about America. No, it isn’t perfect, never has been, but a steady stream of oppressed minorities come here because it’s better than anywhere else. And it keeps getting better, in spite of the media’s efforts to make our relationships seem worse. And the reason America keeps getting better has to do with the ideals promoted by the Constitution and by Christianity. In my lifetime, the personal relationships between people of different races and religions have been spectacularly transformed for the better. The government passed laws that helped, but those laws would never have passed if Americans hadn’t supported them. Politicians don’t swim against the current. Asians still face prejudice from the Ivy League schools but that’s not going to last long.

With Respect to Women’s Suffrage,

America led the way. Wyoming, a state dominated by macho white males, gave women  the right to vote in 1869. The United States as a whole followed suit in 1919. Then came England in 1928, France in 1945, and Mexico in 1953.

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As For the Marshall Plan:

A while back a cynical young man told me the American Marshall Plan that committed the United States to helping the Europeans recover from WWII was just a way to keep the Russians east of the Elbe. First, what’s wrong with that? Where has communism brought people anything but misery? Second, American support for the Marshall Plan was based on Christian principles enjoining us to forgive our enemies and to help our neighbors. But, of course, Christianity can’t be mentioned in colleges.

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“It’s the same thing, without mechanical problems.”

Enough of this sermonizing. Years ago, I wrote a poem about a pair of cynical students, It’s not “made-up”; it really happened.

OVERHEARD AT LUNCH

A student at the table next to mine
said that his professor said
that stupid people used to think
that we Americans went over there
like superheroes in a comic book
and saved the helpless Europeans.
“Yeah,” replied his friend,
“We swooped down from the sky.”
They laughed, those two young men—
too wise already to be taken in.

After the Battle of Okinawa
a civilian wept and would not eat.
A Nisei questioned him and said he said
he’d killed his daughters and his wife
to spare them from
the atrocities to come.
Oh, yes, he read the leaflets promising
no civilian would be harmed,
But he was not a fool and had not been
taken in.

2 thoughts on “In Praise of America

  1. Thank you for this piece!! My heart wept when Cuomo made that wretched statement, and then it broke completely when I hear those college students agreeing. As a teacher, I mourn how miseducated those young folks have been.

    Like

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