Despite the intellectual pretensions of those who practice it, anti-Americanism is reflexive and mindless. Patriotism, despite its bad reputation amongst the intelligentsia, is a rational sentiment for an American to hold. This is the thesis I prove in my new book, Why the Left Hates America.
No one is obligated to love their country. Yet Americans do-overwhelmingly. Why are Americans, despite the national self-hatred expressed by so many elites, still patriotic? Because America is a force for good in the world as no country has ever been.
Here are ten good reasons why thinking Americans should love their country:
The movies the world watches, the television shows they tune into, and the music they listen to are, for the most part, produced in the United States. For instance, the U.S. exports more than 25 times the number of movies and television shows than it consumes from abroad, a fact that causes Ben Wattenberg to observe quite correctly that America is "the most culturally potent nation in the world." Even the virulent America-hater Saddam Hussein reportedly spends a good portion of his time watching American-made movies such as The Godfather and Enemy of the State.
During the hundred years ending in the 1920s, a majority of the world's immigrants came to one lone country: the United States. Today, the U.S. takes in more immigrants than at any point in its history. Yet, the Left portrays America as a bastion of xenophobia and bigotry. Alexander Hamilton (the first Secretary of the Treasury), John Jacob Astor (America's first multimillionaire), Alexander Graham Bell (invented the telephone), Louis B. Mayer (Hollywood pioneer), Selman Waksman (cured tuberculosis), and Ralph Baer (invented the video game) are among the immigrants to America whose lives belie the Left's premise. Just as those who complain about "oppression" in the U.S. would never entertain the idea of living anywhere else, the people around the world we allegedly oppress flock to come here. This contradiction between leftist theory and real-world practice illustrates just how delusional the central tenets of leftist thought really are.
Nothing disproves the Leftist mantra that "all cultures are equal" more than technology does. Americans have given the world motion pictures, the telephone, the television, the computer, the Internet, the airplane, the VCR, and a host of other machines and devices that have vastly improved the quality of life on the planet. Ironically, the terrorists who hate the U.S. give America a tacit endorsement every time they turn on a light, escape the heat through air conditioning, monitor their exploits on television or the internet, or communicate via telephone.
7. Creating Wealth
America is the sun around which the world economy revolves. The typical creator of wealth in the world is an American. Foreigners benefit from buying better products from American companies and working better jobs manufacturing such products. Take America's $9 trillion dollar economy out of the picture, and the economic well being of the rest of the world nose-dives.
With great wealth comes great generosity. In 2000, Americans gave more than $200 billion in charity, dwarfing the amount donated elsewhere. Since World War II, the U.S. government has given well in excess of $500 billion (not adjusted for inflation) in foreign aid. Last year, our government distributed more than $20 billion to 130 countries. While American taxpayers have a right to gripe, what are we to make of foreign beneficiaries who return our favor by burning U.S. flags and chanting "death to America"?
5. Human Achievement
Americans have stretched the bounds of the possible. The first transatlantic flight, putting a man on the moon, breaking the speed of sound, constructing the Hoover Dam, and building the Panama Canal serve as testimony to American courage and ingenuity. It wasn't Danes or Bolivians or Iranians or Koreans who achieved these feats. It was Americans. This is significant.
4. Enlightened Power
The Soviet Empire ruled over Eastern Europe. The Ottoman Empire claimed dominion over vast stretches of the Islamic world. The Empire of the Sun sought dominion over the Orient. The American Empire rules...only Americans. America is an historical curiosity. It is the most powerful country in the world, yet it eschews imperialism. Instead, it has used its military might to liberate. Nazi Germany, North Korea, Soviet Russia, Hussein's Iraq, and Communist Vietnam are among the nefarious states we sought to prevent from increasing their totalitarian control over others. The world is a better place because America, and not some other country, is the sole superpower.
Will Nigerian doctors make the blind see? Will Cambodians cure AIDS? Will Pakistanis eradicate cancer? The answer is probably not. Why? The reason is that non-Westerners have had no discernable impact on modern medicine. This year, like 45 of the last 60, an American won a share of the Nobel Prize in the field of medicine. Americans cured polio and tuberculosis, developed vaccines for hepatitis B and yellow fever, pioneered modern chemotherapy, and produced the CAT scan and MRI. What's there to hate about that?
Leftists harp that American democracy is tainted because not everyone possessed the right to vote at the Founding. Denial of the vote in the 18th century, however, was universal. What made America unique was not that some people could not vote, but that anybody could. More than 215 years after the Constitutional Convention, most people on the planet still do not have a right to vote. Every Arab country, more than three-fourths of African nations, and many of the most populous nations in the Orient still deny their citizens the right to choose their own leaders. Despite the continued rejection by many foreign leaders, the ideals of the American Founding became contagious. Our example served to topple regimes far from our shores. Pro-democracy activists don't quote the founding documents of Saudi Arabia or appropriate the cultural symbols of China. They cite passages from the Declaration of Independence and hoist replicas of the Statue of Liberty.
America has shined as a beacon of freedom in an unfree world for more than two centuries. To this day, for instance, most people living outside our borders reside in countries where the private practice of broadcast journalism is illegal and where the state is the dominant banker. Americans can say anything they want, worship any god they choose, and associate with any motley crew around. Our legacy is not slave chains, Wounded Knee, and the murder of James Byrd, but American GIs liberating a Nazi death camp, an immigrant's first glance of lady liberty's torch, and Ronald Reagan exhorting the Soviet's to tear down the Berlin Wall. If nothing else, America means freedom.
What country in the history of the world boasts such an impressive record of bettering the lot of all of humanity? The answer is no country. "Americans need to face the truth about themselves," Jeane Kirkpatrick once remarked, "no matter how pleasant it is."