I spent the weekend following Independence Day surrounded by my family and thinking about how blessed I've been in so many ways. All the holiday activities, historical snapshots on TV and the patriotic "man on the street" interviews reminded me how my blessings began when I had the good fortune to be born in this great country.
While America is not perfect, in my opinion it is the best thing this world has going for it. It is the only country based fundamentally on the belief that the rights of its citizens are above the rights of the state. We all have a God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that no one can take away from us, and our countrymen have fought and bled and died to preserve that right for us and to extend it to others around the world.
The same weekend, I watched Megyn Kelly of Fox News interview Bill Ayers, co-founder of the Weather Underground, a radical and arguably terrorist group that opposed the Vietnam War in the 60's and 70's. As I listened to Mr. Ayers describe the country I have lived in for 62 years and read about for most of those years, I felt a profound disconnect. One of us must have lived in a different America. So, where has Mr. Ayers gone wrong?
First of all, he focused only on America's shortcomings. I readily admit that America is not perfect. No country is. So, if you ignore all of the positive impacts that America has had on our own citizens and the rest of the world and just focus on our miscues, you'll get a distorted view of the US.
Mr. Ayers played hopscotch with our history, jumping from our treatment of the American Indian to the days of slavery. He then jumps forward to the Vietnam War and then the war in Iraq. These are all dark and questionable periods in our history, but Bill offers no solutions, just ridicule.
He hops right over the great risk our Founding Fathers took and the sacrifices they made in the name of liberty, justice and the rule of law. He leapfrogs over the Civil War during which hundreds of thousands of white men and women died to overturn the injustice of slavery.
He side steps World War II when millions of Americans gave their lives to save Europe from a ruthless dictator and tyrant who would have surely brutalized hundreds of millions of people had the outcome of those wars been different. Amazingly, he drew a blank concerning the struggles of Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and millions of other Americans of all races who fought for the civil rights of Black America.
We could debate forever the motives of America's involvement it Iraq. Mr. Ayers suggests we spent almost $1 trillion to fight a war in Iraq so that Halliburton could make a few billion in profits. Not only is that a cynical view, but Mr. Ayers offers no proof. He simply points a conspiratorial finger and demands that we take his word for it. He uses a similar defense when questioned about the murders and murderous plans of his Weather Underground during his fugitive years.
I would suggest we had a nobler motive in going to Iraq. First, we went to protect our own country from another terrorist attack similar to the one we suffered on 9/11. I believe that we went to rid the world of another heartless dictator who had brutalized his own people and threatened the stability of the Middle East and the world.
Mr. Ayers also overlooks the pure generosity of America. Whenever there is a tsunami or an earthquake or a hurricane anywhere in the world, who does the world turn to for help? It is the United States government, followed closely by the American people.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "If you look for the bad in people, expecting to find it, you surely will," and I guess the same applies to countries. To Mr. Ayers, I would suggest that he take his political blinders off. America is not perfect, but we are working at it. We will continue make this country better unless we allow people like Mr. Ayers to dismantle it.
In America we are all free to put forward new ideas on how to make our country even better than it is today. Even Mr. Ayers is free to spew his one-sided vitriol about America. Try that in Russia or China and see how that works for you. I'll buy his ticket -- one way.
KEVIN CANFIELD OF SPRINGDALE IS AUTHOR OF "MASTERING SALES." HE ALSO BLOGS AT KEVINCANFIELD.BLOGSPOT.COM.Commentary on 07/27/2014
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