Monday, September 28, 2009

What's great about America

The following was originally printed in the National Review on September 25, 2001. I am 3 days late commemorating its 8-year life, please excuse.

I am usually one of those who don't care for the average knee-jerk patriotic essay, but I very much believe this one is not like that. It made me think. The point of view in this essay stirs the soul of America.

I'm not sure that as a nation of people we are as selfless as the essay makes us out to be, but then I realized that even if we are not -- even if we meddle, subside, defend bad or questionable regimes in other countries, and we have and do -- this essay describes the fabric of America and how it is really the fabric of the world.

I believe this essay is a good checklist for Americans. I mean, when you want dissent stifled, read this. But I also think the essay could stand to be updated and I might email the author and ask if he has considered doing that. I'm uncomfortably aware that this was written before we began the counter attack on glodal terror, and I am wondering if the essay would change because of that. I know I have changed. I am more of a warrior about defense than I used to be, so the part of this essay that deals with the way we act in the worlds seems too placating to me. I find my reaction fascinating, because I am not alone, and I think it shows what 911 did to us in a lasting way and that it is an open gate that cannot be closed back. What do you think? Email me.

What Is An American? A primer.

By Peter Ferrara, an associate professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law.

September 25, 2001 9:20 a.m.

You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper there an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.

So I just thought I would write to let them know what an American is, so they would know when they found one.

An American is English…or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani, or Afghan.

An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them choose.

An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American is from the most prosperous land in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes the God-given right of each man and woman to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need. When Afghanistan was overrun by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country. As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan.

An American does not have to obey the mad ravings of ignorant, ungodly cruel, old men. American men will not be fooled into giving up their lives to kill innocent people, so that these foolish old men may hold on to power. American women are free to show their beautiful faces to the world, as each of them choose.

An American is free to criticize his government's officials when they are wrong, in his or her own opinion. Then he is free to replace them, by majority vote.

Americans welcome people from all lands, all cultures, all religions, because they are not afraid. They are not afraid that their history, their religion, their beliefs, will be overrun, or forgotten. That is because they know they are free to hold to their religion, their beliefs, their history, as each of them choose.

And just as Americans welcome all, they enjoy the best that everyone has to bring, from all over the world. The best science, the best technology, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best athletes.

Americans welcome the best, but they also welcome the least. The national symbol of America welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed.

These in fact are the people who built America. Many of them were working in the twin towers on the morning of September 11, earning a better life for their families.

So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo and Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung, and every bloodthirsty tyrant in the history of the world.

But in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.

So look around you. You may find more Americans in your land than you thought were there. One day they will rise up and overthrow the old, ignorant, tired tyrants that trouble too many lands. Then those lands too will join the community of free and prosperous nations.
And America will welcome them.


Starbucks recently unveiled its latest growth path, and I cannot wait. I am finally jazzed about a Starbucks product, and it is.... instant Starbucks coffee that is not freeze-dried (freeze-drying is why most instant coffees taste gross). Its brand name is Via, and it's apparently getting great reviews for its taste. Here is a really good informative review, I thought.

I will try their instant coffee. I'm hoping it truly will taste like real coffee.

In fact, I just ordered some.

I would love to not have to use a drip coffee maker (my second machine recently broke after 2 months and I refuse to buy another one, and have you checked the costs of most of them lately?) or a French press (mine makes a better tasting coffee without boiled water, but leaves gross sludge in the bottom of my cup and cleaning out the grounds is gross, too).  I have tried some of the instant coffee selections on my grocery shelf, but so many are flavored up.

Trust me, I'd love to sip flavored coffee all day long, but after I had to get 6 cavities filled 18 months ago (including 2 hair-line ones that my dentist says were directly caused by drinking coffee with cream in it), I have to limit my everyday intake to black coffee with sweet n low. I occasionally splurge on a McDonalds Iced Latte with sugar-free vanilla, but only once a week or so.

My order should be here October 5th - a week from today. I cannot wait!