4th of July

Discussion in 'The Archives' started by traveler, Jul 4, 2003.

  1. traveler

    traveler Guest

    Happy 4th to all!

    Here's something to think about today:

    What to love about the United States.



    By Dinesh DSouza



    America is under attack as never before not only from terrorists, but from people who provide a justification for terrorism. Islamic fundamentalists declare America the Great Satan. Europeans rail against American capitalism and American culture. South American activists denounce the United States for "neo-colonialism" and oppression.



    Anti-Americanism from abroad would not be such a problem if Americans were united in standing up for their own country. But in this country itself, there are those who blame America for most of the evils in the world. On the political left, many fault the United States for a history of slavery, and for continuing inequality and racism. Even on the right, traditionally the home of patriotism, we hear influential figures say that America has become so decadent that we are "slouching towards Gomorrah."



    If these critics are right, then America should be destroyed. And who can dispute some of their particulars? This country did have a history of slavery and racism continues to exist. There is much in our culture that is vulgar and decadent. But the critics are wrong about America, because they are missing the big picture. In their indignation over the sins of America, they ignore what is unique and good about American civilization.



    As an immigrant who has chosen to become an American citizen, I feel especially qualified to say what is special about America. Having grown up in a different society in my case, Bombay, India I am not only able to identify aspects of America that are invisible to the natives, but I am acutely conscious of the daily blessings that I enjoy in America. Here, then, is my list of the ten great things about America.



    America provides an amazingly good life for the ordinary guy.: Rich people live well everywhere. But what distinguishes America is that it provides an impressively high standard of living for the "common man." We now live in a country where construction workers regularly pay $4 for a nonfat latte, where maids drive nice cars, and where plumbers take their families on vacation to Europe.



    Indeed newcomers to the United States are struck by the amenities enjoyed by "poor" people in the United States. This fact was dramatized in the 1980s when CBS television broadcast a documentary, People Like Us, which was intended to show the miseries of the poor during an ongoing recession. The Soviet Union also broadcast the documentary, with a view to embarrassing the Reagan administration. But by the testimony of former Soviet leaders, it had the opposite effect. Ordinary people across the Soviet Union saw that the poorest Americans have TV sets, microwave ovens, and cars. They arrived at the same perception that I witnessed in an acquaintance of mine from Bombay who has been unsuccessfully trying to move to the United States. I asked him, "Why are you so eager to come to America?" He replied, "I really want to live in a country where the poor people are fat."



    America offers more opportunity and social mobility than any other country, including the countries of Europe: America is the only country that has created a population of "self-made tycoons." Only in America could Pierre Omidyar, whose parents are Iranian and who grew up in Paris, have started a company like eBay. Only in America could Vinod Khosla, the son of an Indian army officer, become a leading venture capitalist, the shaper of the technology industry, and a billionaire to boot. Admittedly tycoons are not typical, but no country has created a better ladder than America for people to ascend from modest circumstances to success.



    Work and trade are respectable in America, which is not true elsewhere: Historically most cultures have despised the merchant and the laborer, regarding the former as vile and corrupt and the latter as degraded and vulgar. Some cultures, such as that of ancient Greece and medieval Islam, even held that it is better to acquire things through plunder than through trade or contract labor. But the American founders altered this moral hierarchy. They established a society in which the life of the businessman, and of the people who worked for him, would be a noble calling. In the American view, there is nothing vile or degraded about serving your customers either as a CEO or as a waiter. The ordinary life of production and supporting a family is more highly valued in the United States than in any other country. Indeed America is the only country in the world where we call the waiter "sir," as if he were a knight.



    America has achieved greater social equality than any other society.: True, there are large inequalities of income and wealth in America. In purely economic terms, Europe is more egalitarian. But Americans are socially more equal than any other people, and this is unaffected by economic disparities. Tocqueville noticed this egalitarianism a century and a half ago, but it is if anything more prevalent today. For all his riches, Bill Gates could not approach the typical American and say, "Here's a $100 bill. I'll give it to you if you kiss my feet." Most likely the person would tell Gates to go to hell! The American view is that the rich guy may have more money, but he isn't in any fundamental sense better than anyone else.



    People live longer, fuller lives in America.: Although protesters rail against the American version of technological capitalism at trade meetings around the world, in reality the American system has given citizens many more years of life, and the means to live more intensely and actively. In 1900, the life expectancy in America was around 50 years; today, it is more than 75 years. Advances in medicine and agriculture are mainly responsible for the change. This extension of the life-span means more years to enjoy life, more free time to devote to a good cause, and more occasions to do things with the grandchildren. In many countries, people who are old seem to have nothing to do: They just wait to die. In America the old are incredibly vigorous, and people in their seventies pursue the pleasures of life, including remarriage and sexual gratification, with a zeal that I find unnerving.



    In America the destiny of the young is not given to them but created by them.: Not long ago, I asked myself, "What would my life have been like if I had never come to the United States?" If I had remained in India, I would probably have lived my whole life within a five-mile radius of where I was born. I would undoubtedly have married a woman of my identical religious and socioeconomic background. I would almost certainly have become a medical doctor, or an engineer, or a computer programmer. I would have socialized entirely within my ethic community. I would have a whole set of opinions that could be predicted in advance; indeed, they would not be very different from what my father believed, or his father before him. In sum, my destiny would to a large degree have been given to me.



    In America, I have seen my life take a radically different course. In college I became interested in literature and politics, and I resolved to make a career as a writer. I married a woman whose ancestry is English, French, Scotch-Irish, German, and American Indian. In my twenties I found myself working as a policy analyst in the White House, even though I was not an American citizen. No other country, I am sure, would have permitted a foreigner to work in its inner citadel of government.



    In most countries in the world, your fate and your identity are handed to you; in America, you determine them for yourself. America is a country where you get to write the script of your own life. Your life is like a blank sheet of paper, and you are the artist. This notion of being the architect of your own destiny is the incredibly powerful idea that is behind the worldwide appeal of America. Young people especially find irresistible the prospect of authoring the narrative of their own lives.



    America has gone further than any other society in establishing equality of rights.: There is nothing distinctively American about slavery or bigotry. Slavery has existed in virtually every culture, and xenophobia, prejudice, and discrimination are worldwide phenomena. Western civilization is the only civilization to mount a principled campaign against slavery; no country expended more treasure and blood to get rid of slavery than the United States. While racism remains a problem in America, this country has made strenuous efforts to eradicate discrimination, even to the extent of enacting policies that give legal preference in university admissions, jobs, and government contracts to members of minority groups. Such policies remain controversial, but the point is that it is extremely unlikely that a racist society would have permitted such policies in the first place. And surely African Americans like Jesse Jackson are vastly better off living in America than they would be if they were to live in, say, Ethiopia or Somalia.



    America has found a solution to the problem of religious and ethnic conflict that continues to divide and terrorize much of the world.: Visitors to places like New York are amazed to see the way in which Serbs and Croatians, Sikhs and Hindus, Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants, Jews and Palestinians, all seem to work and live together in harmony. How is this possible when these same groups are spearing each other and burning each other's homes in so many places in the world?



    The American answer is twofold. First, separate the spheres of religion and government so that no religion is given official preference but all are free to practice their faith as they wish. Second, do not extend rights to racial or ethnic groups but only to individuals; in this way, all are equal in the eyes of the law, opportunity is open to anyone who can take advantage of it, and everybody who embraces the American way of life can "become American."



    Of course there are exceptions to these core principles, even in America. Racial preferences are one such exception, which explains why they are controversial. But in general America is the only country in the world that extends full membership to outsiders. The typical American could come to India, live for 40 years, and take Indian citizenship. But he could not "become Indian." He wouldn't see himself that way, nor would most Indians see him that way. In America, by contrast, hundreds of millions have come from far-flung shores and over time they, or at least their children, have in a profound and full sense "become American."



    America has the kindest, gentlest foreign policy of any great power in world history.: Critics of the U.S. are likely to react to this truth with sputtering outrage. They will point to longstanding American support for a Latin or Middle Eastern despot, or the unjust internment of the Japanese during World War II, or America's reluctance to impose sanctions on South Africa's apartheid regime. However one feels about these particular cases, let us concede to the critics the point that America is not always in the right.



    What the critics leave out is the other side of the ledger. Twice in the 20th century, the United States saved the world: first from the Nazi threat, then from Soviet totalitarianism. What would have been the world's fate if America had not existed? After destroying Germany and Japan in World War II, the U.S. proceeded to rebuild both countries, and today they are American allies. Now we are doing the same thing in Afghanistan and Iraq. Consider, too, how magnanimous the U.S. has been to the former Soviet Union after its victory in the Cold War. For the most part America is an abstaining superpower: It shows no real interest in conquering and subjugating the rest of the world. (Imagine how the Soviets would have acted if they had won the Cold War.) On occasion the America intervenes to overthrow a tyrannical regime or to halt massive human rights abuses in another country, but it never stays to rule that country. In Grenada, Haiti, and Bosnia, the U.S. got in and then it got out. Moreover, when America does get into a war, as in Iraq, its troops are supremely careful to avoid targeting civilians and to minimize collateral damage. Even as America bombed the Taliban infrastructure and hideouts, U.S. planes dropped rations of food to avert hardship and starvation of Afghan civilians. What other country does these things?



    America, the freest nation on earth, is also the most virtuous nation on earth.: This point seems counter-intuitive, given the amount of conspicuous vulgarity, vice, and immorality in America. Indeed some Islamic fundamentalists argue that their regimes are morally superior to the United States because they seek to foster virtue among the citizens. Virtue, these fundamentalists argue, is a higher principle than liberty.



    Indeed it is. And let us admit that in a free society, freedom will frequently be used badly. Freedom, by definition, includes the freedom to do good or evil, to act nobly or basely. But if freedom brings out the worst in people, it also brings out the best. The millions of Americans who live decent, praiseworthy lives desire our highest admiration because they have opted for the good when the good is not the only available option. Even amidst the temptations of a rich and free society, they have remained on the straight path. Their virtue has special luster because it is freely chosen.



    By contrast, the societies that many Islamic fundamentalists seek would eliminate the possibility of virtue. If the supply of virtue is insufficient in a free society like America, it is almost non-existent in an unfree society like Iran. The reason is that coerced virtues are not virtues at all. Consider the woman who is required to wear a veil. There is no modesty in this, because she is being compelled Compulsion cannot produce virtue, it can only produce the outward semblance of virtue. Thus a free society like America is not merely more prosperous, more varied, more peaceful, and more tolerant it is also morally superior to the theocratic and authoritarian regimes that America's enemies advocate.



    "To make us love our country," Edmund Burke once said, "our country ought to be lovely." Burke's point is that we should love our country not just because it is ours, but also because it is good. America is far from perfect, and there is lots of room for improvement. In spite of its flaws, however, the American life as it is lived today is the best life that our world has to offer. Ultimately America is worthy of our love and sacrifice because, more than any other society, it makes possible the good life, and the life that is good.
     
  2. deliver_man

    deliver_man Guest

    Ever wonder what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

    Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.

    Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

    Two lost their sons serving in The Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.

    Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

    They signed; and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

    What kind of men were they?

    Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.

    Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, living relatively comfortable lives - but they chose to sign the Declaration of Independence, knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

    Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

    Thomas McKean was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

    Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

    At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

    Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

    John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

    Some of us take our liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't.

    Take a few minutes, while enjoying your 4th of July holiday, and think for a moment about those patriots.

    It's not much to ask, for the price they paid.

    Remember: freedom is never free!
     
  3. hitthebigone

    hitthebigone Guest

    Awesome Traveler!
     
  4. badhab1

    badhab1 Guest

    Touche to both for reminding us that while we eat our hotdogs, drink our beer, shoot fireworks , and enjoy a big parade there are much and many to be thankful for on this 4th.
     
  5. jumpups

    jumpups Guest

    Anyone hear the latest on MIP incentive program. It sounds like it will be based on QPR results specifically
     
  6. proups

    proups Guest

    jumpups: start a new thread. I see this is your first post, so you need to start a new thread to get your question answered. This web site is very user friendly - take a few minutes and you can figure out how to start a thread.

    traveler and deliver man: great posts!
     
  7. lifer

    lifer Guest

    God bless America!!
     
  8. feederdryver

    feederdryver Guest

    I love God

    I love America

    and I'm proud of the men who died for my freedom


    but...
    I also want people to know the truths on "how" this great country was claimed by the European settlers. I'm not talking about the grade school version on the heroics of Mr. Columbus, but rather the murderous actions he and his men delivered to the American Indians; who greeted them with love and open arms when they arrived.
    If only kinship meant more to them than gold, I believe this country today would be even greater than it is now, but as the saying goes... "money is the root of all evil".

    I won't go any deeper than that as not to spoil the pinnacle of our freedom of 1776.

    May God bless America always.
     
  9. deliver_man

    deliver_man Guest

    I think you are confused, Columbus day is October 12, and the events of 1492 have very little to do with the events leading up to the revolutionary war, except in a very general, big picture, "history of the human race" kind of way.
    Columbus and the conquistadors served Spain, and any atrocities they committed were in that country's service. In addition, they operated almost entirely in the carribean and central america, as near as I can recall they never landed in what is now the USA.
    For an in-depth look at the effect the Europeans had on the New World, read The Crimes of Christopher Columbus.


    (Message edited by deliver_man on July 07, 2003)
     
  10. traveler

    traveler Guest

    deliverman,
    Your are correct, Columbus NEVER set foot on what is now the continental United States. His first voyage was to Cuba, Hispanola (what is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and a series of Caribbean Islands. He left a group of settlers before his return to Spain. On returning (his second voyage) he found hte settlers had been wiped out, their village burned to the ground and no one has more than SPECULATION as to why this happened. The third voyage explored much of the southern islands and Central America.

    feederdryver
    Now to an historical perspective. It is foolish to blame people in the past for their actions when that was the "norn" at the time. Stoning was commonplace in biblical times. Pouring boiling oil on attacking armies was ok in the middle ages. Torture was used on heretics in the middle ages too. Slavery and segregation was the norm not only in the USA but in many places during that era. Dropping A-Bombs on Japan was a reasonable way to end WW II. I could go on and on and on. Sure, that's unacceptable today and we should learn from past mistakes of human history, but to begin to single out people, events, etc. and demonize them because of what they did that was a norm in their time is ______ (I'll let you fill in this blank so I am not accused of name calling).

    By the way, many settlers were murdered by American Natives for little or no reason (using today's thinking) but I never heard anyone fault today's Indians for that!?! Yes, that too would be foolish.
     
  11. feederdryver

    feederdryver Guest

    Traveler-

    Demonize? Did I demonize?
    What's with you people? You , like Deliverman and some others, always manage to "incorporate" more into a topic than what was originally stated. Do you look for hostile debates?

    I know full well what Columbus did. This topic was about 4th of July in America. Not about Spain, not about biblical times, not about Japan and the bomb, not about boiling or stoning, not about the Middle Ages, not about slavery, not about torture.. (do I need to go on???)

    I don't need a history lesson from you either. And it was the Canary Islands (to be exact) that Columbus first encountered.

    I said in my post I wouldn't go "any deeper".
    I thought it was most polite of me not to bore everyone with a history lesson.

    As I can see... you weren't as polite.




    Deliverman-

    NO..I'm not confused. Though, I know you are.
     
  12. traveler

    traveler Guest

    feederdryver,
    Talk about a hostile post!

    Though Columbus STOPPED at the Canary Islands on his first voyage that was part of the "known world" at that time and not a discovery. He repaired two of his ships and took on provisions there.

    By the way, I don't consider history to be boring but a most interesting subject to be carefully studied.

    Now, I quote your statement "the murderous actions he and his men delivered to the American Indians; who greeted them with love and open arms". I guess that wasn't meant to demonize but to compliment him? I stand by everything I said in my post.

    On your chiding me for changing the subject... you will notice that I started this thread with what I felt was an eye opening essay from someone who came to this country and could see clearly what many of us take for granted. 'Twas you who strayed for the line of the thread! OK, I admit, I continued to stray but I will stop now.

    Politely submitted,
    traveler
     
  13. deliver_man

    deliver_man Guest


    Hmmm....someone comes into a thread celebrating our independence day and makes a post about Columbus murdering the indians. Who is looking for a hostile debate here?</font>


    You stated that Columbus murdered American Indians, which would be quite a feat considering that he never met any. And yes, this topic was about the 4th of july, so why are talking about Columbus anyway?</font>



    You don't just need a history lesson, you need a geography lesson. The Canary islands are located about 65 miles west of Morocco, off the coast of Northern Africa, and they were "encountered" long before Columbus was born. The Romans were there as early as 40 BC, and by the time Columbus set sail they had been a Spanish province for at least 15 years.

    I love history, I find it fascinating, so no need to worry about boring me . Just make sure you know what you are talking about next time.

    Deliverman-

    NO..I'm not confused. Though, I know you are.

    Oh, really?
     
  14. wkmac

    wkmac Guest

    GOOD GRIEF! What the He#l happened to this thread? I read the first 2 posts which I thought were rather good to make us reflect on how fortunate we are and then I look again and WOW!

    Pretty sad "we" can't act any better than this!
     
  15. toonertoo

    toonertoo Guest

    I agree, stick with the thread!! Happy Independence Day to all of our brave Men and Women in Iraq, and elsewhere protecting us. And God Bless Them and God Bless America!!!
     
  16. traveler

    traveler Guest

    toonertoo & wkmac,

    You are right! I guess I just got caught up in the sidetrack from my original post!

    So, here I go again with another post more related to patriotism of Americans:







    On The Flip Side of Hollywood



    In contrast to the ideals, opinions and feelings of today's "Hollywonk" the real actors of yester-year loved the United States. They had both class and integrity. With the advent of World War many of our actors went to fight rather than stand and rant against this country we all love. They gave up their wealth, position and fame to become service men &amp; women, many as simple "enlisted men". This page lists but a few, but from this group of only 18 men came over 70 medals in honor of their valor, spanning from Bronze Stars, Silver Stars, Distinguish Service Cross', Purple Hearts and one Congressional Medal of Honor. So remember; while the "Entertainers of 2003" have been in all of the news media lately (for it seems News Paper, Television and Radio has been more than ready to put them and their anti-American, anti-Bush message before the public) I would like to remind the people of what the entertainers of 1943 were doing, (60 years ago). Most of these brave men have since passed on.



    Real Hollywood Heros

    Alec Guinness (Star Wars) operated a British Royal Navy landing craft on D-Day.

    James Doohan ("Scotty" on Star Trek) landed in Normandy with the U. S. Army on D-Day.

    Donald Pleasance (The Great Escape) really was an R. A. F. pilot who was shot down, held prisoner and tortured by the Germans.

    David Niven was a Sandhurst graduate and Lt. Colonel of the British Commandos in Normandy.

    James Stewart Entered the Army Air Force as a private and worked his way to the rank of Colonel. During World War II, Stewart served as a bomber pilot, his service record crediting him with leading more than 20 missions over Germany, and taking part in hundreds of air strikes during his tour of duty. Stewart earned the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, France's Croix de Guerre, and 7 Battle Stars during World War II. In peace time, Stewart continued to be an active member of the Air Force as a reservist, reaching the rank of Brigadier General before retiring in the late 1950s.


    Clark Gable (Mega-Movie Star when war broke out) Although he was beyond the draft age at the time the U.S. entered WW II, Clark Gable enlisted as a private in the AAF on Aug. 12, 1942 at Los Angeles. He attended the Officers' Candidate School at Miami Beach, Fla. and graduated as a second lieutenant on Oct. 28, 1942. He then attended aerial gunnery school and in Feb. 1943 he was assigned to the 351st Bomb Group at Polebrook where flew operational missions over Europe in B-17s. Capt. Gable returned to the U.S. in Oct. 1943 and was relieved from active duty as a major on Jun. 12, 1944 at his own request, since he was over-age for combat.

    Charlton Heston was an Army Air Corps Sergeant in Kodiak.

    Earnest Borgnine was a U. S. Navy Gunners Mate 1935-1945.

    Charles Durning was a U. S. Army Ranger at Normandy earning a Silver Star and awarded the Purple Heart.


    Charles Bronson was a tail gunner in the Army Air Corps, more specifically on B-29s in the 20th Air Force out of Guam, Tinian, and Saipan

    George C. Scott was a decorated U. S. Marine.

    Eddie Albert (Green Acres TV) was awarded a Bronze Star for his heroic action as a U. S. Naval officer aiding Marines at the horrific battle on the island of Tarawa in the Pacific Nov. 1943.

    Brian Keith served as a U.S. Marine rear gunner in several actions against the Japanese on Rabal in the Pacific.

    Lee Marvin was a U.S. Marine on Saipan during the Marianas campaign when he was wounded earning the Purple Heart.

    John Russell: In 1942, he enlisted in the Marine Corps where he received a battlefield commission and was wounded and highly decorated for valor at Guadalcanal.

    Robert Ryan was a U. S. Marine who served with the O. S. S. in Yugoslavia.

    Tyrone Power (an established movie star when Pearl Harbor was bombed) joined the U.S. Marines, was a pilot flying supplies into, and wounded Marines out of, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

    Audie Murphy, little 5'5" tall 110 pound guy from Texas who played cowboy parts? Most Decorated serviceman of WWII and earned: Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, 2 Silver Star Medals, Legion of Merit, 2 Bronze Star Medals with "V", 2 Purple Hearts, U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, 2 Distinguished Unit Emblems, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with One Silver Star, Four Bronze Service Stars (representing nine campaigns) and one Bronze Arrowhead (representing assault landing at Sicily and Southern France) World War II Victory Medal Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar, Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar, French Fourragere in Colors of the Croix de Guerre, French Legion of Honor, Grade of Chevalier, French Croix de Guerre With Silver Star, French Croix de Guerre with Palm, Medal of Liberated France, Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 Palm.

    This list doesnt include the many fine actors and actresses who entertained our troops in WW II and other conflicts. That would take a very long list but certainly, at the top would be Bob Hope.

    So how do you feel the real heroes of the silver screen acted when compared to the hollywonks today who spew anti-American drivel? Can you imagine these stars of yester-year saying they hate our flag, making anti-war speaches, marching in anti-American parades and saying they hate our president?
     
  17. feederdryver

    feederdryver Guest

    I stand corrected regarding my statement "Columbus murdering American Indians".

    My thinking was meant to imply that his voyages to find the New World resulted in butchering natives (e.g. Canary Islands) along the way, which inevitably led up to the European Settlers (pilgrims) migrating to America and forcing their Euro views and laws on native American Indian soil.

    I apologize for the inconsistencies.
     
  18. dannyboy

    dannyboy Guest

    Travler

    THat was the Hollywood bunch that made it back alive, what about the ones that didnt, and disapeared from the pages of history?

    d
     
  19. traveler

    traveler Guest

    Unfortunately, that's quite true but few if any would recognize those names since they have long since passed. Considering the age of many who frequent this board, some of the names even in the post are not recognized by all.