Exceptionalism a good thing, when you’re right

No country has sent more soldiers to die and taken less in return than the United States.

Lately, Americans have been vigorously attacked by the hate-America crowd. This crowd includes France, Germany and Michael Moore. Apparently, some people have bought into this blame-America, unilateral-war rhetoric. I have even heard some Americans, when traveling to Europe, make every attempt to hide they are from the United States. I hope people know that being an American is something to be proud of, not something to hide from the hate-America crowd.

I remember being at a campus bar the Friday after Sept. 11 2001, when out of nowhere, a group of students started singing, “and I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me.” The next summer, I was at a music festival and heard Toby Keith sing, “We’ll always recognize, when we see Old Glory flying, there’s a lot of men dead, so we can sleep in peace at night when we lay down our head.”

It took me back to when I was 5 years old at my grandfather’s funeral. He served in the Pacific during World War II and died when I was in kindergarten. I remember being startled by the rifle fire from the 21-gun salute, the flag being folded and given to my grandmother, and the old men in uniform with tears in their eyes. Ever since that day, I have had a deep respect for those who have fought and the country that sent them to preserve my freedom.

Most Europeans don’t think this way. They think we are stupid, ignorant and evil. This is especially true in France and Germany, where countries that we once considered our friends castigate everything we do. They despise our culture, our military and our president. I wonder if the French felt that way in the early 1940s when our evil military was saving them, again. Or if the Germans felt our culture, with all our freedoms, was detestable after former President Ronald Reagan defeated communism and former President George H.W. Bush tore down the Berlin Wall.

We live in a great country that is always willing to help others, no matter the cost. Many people don’t recognize this. Thomas Jefferson once said, “How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy.” When there is a flood in India, we send aid. When there is an earthquake in China, we send relief workers. Recently, we committed $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa. Sounds as if the greedy capitalists are at it again.

No country has sent more soldiers to die and taken less in return than the United States. We fought against aggressor nations in World War I. The United States stayed out of World War II until we were attacked. My grandfather and others didn’t want to go to war, but they did to protect the United States. When the war was over, it was the Americans who lifted the defeated, destroyed nations from the debris and propped up their economies – remember the Marshall Plan.

Part of the problem might lie in the ever-increasing irrelevance of European powers. Their individual economies lag behind the United States’ and Asia’s. Their militaries are far inferior to most countries’, except Canada’s. And when it comes to biking all over France, one of ours – Lance Armstrong – is the best there is.

European countries are no longer world powers, and it pisses them off. They have to criticize someone. So obviously, they bash the best and brightest country on Earth. I liken this to 98 percent of baseball fans hating the Yankees. Despite last week’s loss, the Yankees are one of, if not the best, teams in baseball. They have been for some time and will for some time to come. All the fans that don’t have a team to watch this time of year hate the Yankees. They hate the Yankees because the team spends the most money, has the best players and always wins. The Europeans would say the Yankees are greedy or evil. I say it’s good to be a Yankee.

Now, I’m sure there are other reasons the Europeans opposed our war in Iraq. Namely, because they were being bribed by Saddam Hussein in the oil-for-food scandal. It has recently come out that many prominent European businessmen and politicians were getting compensation from Saddam in exchange for political favors. Is it really surprising that Germany and France voted against invading Iraq when they were being paid millions of dollars to keep the United States out of Iraq? These are the same countries that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry proposes to bring to the table in our war on terror.

The hate-America crowd says our current war in Iraq is an evil, hegemonic quest for oil. Does anyone really believe President George W. Bush would take us to war, risk his career and the lives of soldiers for oil? If he wanted oil, he could have drilled in Alaska – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals supporters don’t fight as hard as terrorists. The United States is on a mission of good. We are fighting terrorism and spreading peace throughout the world, and all we get is condemnation for it. Former President Harry Truman said the world’s hope for peace lies in the growth and expansion of freedom and self-government. We are continuing that expansion in Iraq.

Some people might be voting for the president based on who can bring the Europeans back to our side. I don’t think we need allies who are unable to see the noble cause we are undertaking. I like the president we have, because he is willing to fight for the things we believe in. And I like the allies that we have. They are decent, caring people who value the spread of freedom.

Reagan said during his second inaugural address, “We hear again the echoes of our past: a general falls to his knees in the hard snow of Valley Forge; a lonely president paces the darkened halls and ponders his struggle to preserve the Union; the men of the Alamo call out encouragement to each other; a settler pushes west and sings a song, and the song echoes out forever and fills the unknowing air. It is the American sound. It is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent and fair. That’s our heritage; that is our song. We sing it still.”

Bush has not tarnished that image. He has strengthened it.

Gregg Knorn is a University student and welcomes comments at [email protected]