Another Perspective

The Purpose of Defiance

And good luck to President Obama.

By 1.28.09

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A few days ago, I went to see Defiance, a fine movie about Jewish resistance fighters in the forests of Eastern Europe under Nazi occupation during World War II. To put it mildly, the movie was mind-bogglingly depressing and upsetting. The suffering, misery, and terror of these people, my blood, was almost beyond belief.

But the movie served a purpose. As I left the theater, I knelt on the pavement of the parking lot to thank God for letting me be in 2009 America instead of 1941 Byelorussia.

Yes, I know we are having a serious recession. I am still grateful to the point of dizziness to be in America. Yes, I know I have been through a harrowing year with the stock market in 2008. It is nothing, not even a pimple, compared with what those people suffered. Not even to be mentioned.

The day to day glory of living in a free society under law, the truth that in this country the law protects my life instead of taking my life -- these are dazzling despite the daily cascade of grim economic tidings.

When I got home after watching Defiance, I bowed my head and thanked God for every man and woman in the United States, British, and Russian and Australian and Canadian and New Zealand armed forces who fought that Nazis. For their families and their communities.

Nothing, nothing, nothing on this planet compares with living in a free country.

Yes, it's great that we have our first African-American President. Yes, the media treats him like a movie star. But the real stars fought the SS in the Huertgen Forest, the Japanese at Midway, and are now fighting the terrorists in places that are not even on maps. They will never get serenaded on national TV and no one will care where their kids went to school and there won't be any commemorative dinner plates about them sold on TV. But they are the real stars, not the politicians.

Good luck to President Obama. I hope we get the economy straightened out soon and decent people get back to work. But however long it takes, I am going to be very, very grateful for a good long while. My ancestors made many wrong decisions, but they made one perfect one: to come to America. We are so lucky to be here it's insane.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.