Love America or love to hate America? Neil Cavuto July 17, 2004
Tell me, when was the last time you saw a rickety boat leave this country for the shores of Cuba? Or throngs of wayward Americans seeking haven . . . in Mexico?
Keep looking. While you're doing that, let me tell you about this: a gathering. Actually, it was a pretty big gathering, largely of foreign exchange students who had been assembled to air their views on how life is going for them thus far in this country. I thought it would be a rather perfunctory affair, and since I've had exchange students in my house from all sorts of countries, I thought it might be a good event to help support.
Boy, was I mistaken. When talking in their own groups, very few of these students had anything good to say about this country. One claimed we were arrogant. Still another that we were ignorant. More than several insisted we weren't curious. Others touted Michael Moore's documentaries as "brilliant." That was the last straw!
Never mind each and every one of them visiting this country was being sponsored in this country, usually by the same wealthy and sometimes not so wealthy Americans they loved to vilify. That didn't stop them from knocking American culture, American movies, even their American sponsors! "Too divisive, too strident," said one student. I actually agreed with that kid. It was his attitude that had me thinking, "surely you weren't spanked enough as a child."
I mean, is it just me, or does the word "gall" come to mind? All of these kids are being wined and dined while they're here. Good trips. Good restaurants. Good times. Often paid for with good money that isn't theirs! And all because we Americans are silly enough, kind enough and generous enough to share our bounty with those who aren't so fortunate. Most of these kids don't come from much money. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they'd never get otherwise . . . unless some fat, lazy American bonehead provided it (sorry, but I took all this personally, and yes, I am fat!).
When it was my turn to speak, I made a point of mentioning there are many things we do wrong in this country, that many of us can be too in your face, but when everything hits the fan, no one criticizes us for being too behind your back.
I reminded them that the last time I checked, there weren't flotillas leaving this country for the promise of another country, or scores of Americans who had gotten fed up and were packing up to try their talents elsewhere. No, most who complained here, stayed here, and tried making something of themselves here. Just like most of the kids assembled here wanted to go to school here, maybe get a job here, maybe, if they could swing it, "stay" here. Why? Because things were better here, more promising here, more rewarding here.
And all that despite the boat-load of problems I freely acknowledged we have here. To the student who blasted Iraqi prison abuse, I posed this question: Where did you hear about it? Where did you read about it?
"I saw it on the news," he answered.
"Our news, correct?" I pointed out.
"Yes," he answered.
"So you found out about this American abuse of prisoners from an American station," I clarified. "Because it was an American soldier who told his American colonel, who told his American Defense Department, who freely told the world about it.
"That's something we do in this country," I explained. "We air a lot of our dirty laundry in public in this country. That's what I like about this country."
I asked the kids whether their governments air their dirty laundry in public. Some nodded in agreement, but very few. Many more shook their heads in the negative. Most looked puzzled.
"You know," I said, "there's a lot we do wrong in this country. Never 'fessing up to doing wrong ain't one of them."
I wasn't trying to get preachy with the kids. Most were and are, after all, kids. They hear this American-bashing nonsense from parents and relatives who hate us, and pass it on. It's "in" to bash us. What isn't in is sticking up for us.
I felt compelled to remind them of a little history . . . of a recent World War, for one, and our nation's history of helping deal with butchers who weren't in our backyard, but theirs.
I told them we in this country don't expect a thank you, but we're certainly due more than a screw you! They understood my English perfectly. Few bothered to look at me directly.
But they had to. After all, this was one event they weren't paying for. Like so many others, it wasn't on their dime. In a sense, it was on mine, and I wanted them to pay . . . dearly.
Or save that, listen closely. Very closely.
©2004 Creators Syndicate, Inc.