I write today to cry for my beloved country, the United States of America.
First, a word about that love. I have visited, set foot in, and explored the vast majority of the United States. I have been to almost every battlefield of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. I not only visited Guinea Station where Stonewall Jackson died but even searched irresponsibly with my daughters, then young girls, through endless grain stalks during a Virginia summer’s lightning storm until we found the oak tree at Ellwood Plantation in Chancellorsville where his left arm is buried. After visiting the McCoy family cemetery in Pikeville, Kentucky, I crossed state lines to visit the Hatfield family cemetery in western West Virginia. There we met Henry Hatfield, a grandson of patriarch Devil Anse Hatfield. I was the first Orthodox Jew he ever met. In one of my most forgettable faux pas ever, when my 12-year-old daughter asked me in his presence whether he was messing with us or whether I believed he was a direct descendant, I responded to her, “Yep, he’s the real McCoy.”
The tragedy is that we now have reared two consecutive generations who do not grasp what this country’s foundational values are, the history of how those values won the day, and what makes those values eternally precious.
I love my country, these United States. From the boiled peanuts and peaches of Georgia to the beignets of N’awlins to the cinnamon-chocolate chili of Cincinnati to the burgoo of Louisville (all of which can be made with kosher ingredients). From the blues of Memphis to the country sounds of Nashville, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Bakersfield to the bluegrass of Appalachia to the Cajun sound and jazz of the French Quarter.
I love the stories of this country’s heroes, and I honor them. In a world where no person is perfect — even though some Jew-haters in the National Football League like the semi-illiterate moron DeSean Jackson and a “comedian” named Chelsea Handler, who broke her promise to leave America if Donald Trump was elected president, both put Louis Farrakhan on the pedestal of perfection — America’s real heroes, despite their flaws, are extraordinary. Christopher Columbus courageously braved fears of deathly peril in a time when people thought the world flat, raised the necessary enormous funds, commanded and inspired the loyalty of sailors of three ships, and blazed the trail to uncover a new world. Andrew Jackson, despite his father dying just after he was born and then his brother dying while Andrew still was a boy, was captured by the British, was scarred for life after he refused to polish a British officer’s shoes, soon after lost his mother to cholera, rose to fight mightily and bravely to defeat the British in New Orleans, was the first elected senator of Tennessee, fought to eliminate corruption in the federal government, paid down the national debt and concluded his presidency with America at a surplus, and physically used his cane to beat up a guy who shot at him and missed. I have visited that statue of him on that horse in all three places those identical monuments stand: in D.C., at the Tennessee state capitol in Nashville, and in Jackson Square in New Orleans.
We Americans are a good people, a fair people. Yes, there are haters in our midst: racists who hate Blacks or Asians or Hispanics or Caucasians, religious bigots who hate Catholics or Jews or Protestants or Muslims, men who hate all women, and women who hate all men. In a country of 300 million people, there will be haters and sociopaths. Consider that world history you learned in high school, back in the days when high schools taught subjects with facts and data, rather than emotive sessions to discuss feelings and how to use condoms. The French Catholics hated the Protestants. The Protestants hated the Catholics. The British warred against all their neighbors, and they against them. The Eastern Orthodox hated the Roman Catholics, and back atcha. Shiite Muslims and Sunnis have hated each other for 1500 years, give or take a week. And they all hated the Jews. Look at Russia’s history of hate: Stalin’s Holodomor that wiped out millions of Ukrainians. The Chinese persecutions of the Uyghurs. The Arab Muslim slave trade. So, yes, America has had an era of pogroms against Chinese immigrants in California, a bloody Monday massacre of German and Irish immigrants in Louisville, Blacks in Tulsa and Mississippi. There have been eras and specific poignant moments of bigotry against Italians, Poles, Jews, Japanese, Hispanics, and other immigrants. The violent hatred of rioters from the Ku Klux Klan to today’s Antifa and Black Lives Matter. But they all are the outliers. We learned in high school about state-sponsored or government-incited tortures and murders elsewhere from the Spanish Inquisition to the Chmielnicki Cossacks to the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia and the Soviet Gulag Archipelago. By contrast, this is and always has been a nation founded on the greatest of values, that all people are created equal.
Our Founding Fathers had it ever-so-right. Justice and fairness do not require equal results, only equal opportunities. Indeed, communism/socialism proposes the injustice of equal results. So if some are born blind, since their vision cannot be restored, shall all others be blinded? If some are born with physical aesthetic deformities, shall others be compelled to line up for deforming? In a world of guaranteed equal results, the incentive to achieve greater is eradicated. That is why the most gifted and productive, the most inventive and resourceful people of other societies that “guaranteed” equal results, but never could produce them anyway, ended up fleeing to America to build this country, where they would have equal opportunity to realize their boundless dreams.
Einstein did not begin here, but he ended up here. Levi Strauss came here from Bavaria and created jeans. Joseph Pulitzer came here from Hungary. Rupert Murdoch hopped over from Australia. Liz Claiborne from Belgium. Oscar de la Renta from the Dominican Republic. Arianna Huffington from Greece. Arnold Schwarzenegger from Austria. The co-founders of YouTube came here respectively from China and East Germany. Alex Trebek from Canada. Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum (Ayn Rand) from St. Petersburg. Joni Mitchell from Canada. Yul Brynner from Vladivostok. Audrey Hepburn from Belgium. Irving Berlin from Russia. Cary Grant from England. Haim Saban (“Power Rangers”) from Israel. Wladyslaw “Wlady” Pleszczynski’s parents from Poland. Reuben Mattus came here from Poland, his wife Rose from Manchester and Belfast, and together they created Häagen-Dazs ice cream in the Bronx, naming it with an apocryphal Danish name — there is not even an umlaut in Danish — and putting a map of Denmark on the containers. As Lorenzo Pietro Berra, the son of Italian immigrants, would say: only in America.
Whether conservatives or left-oriented, in entertainment or in science, they came here because this country gave them the chance they never could have had back where they came from in societies that promoted equal results. No socialist country ever produces equal results. If it worked here, with equal results for all, then everyone would be a millionaire with three houses, just like Bernie Sanders, who fled the diversity of Brooklyn, New York, for lily-White Vermont. That is why millions have risked their lives to get here, whether sneaking in steerage aboard rickety boats crossing the Atlantic to the Statue of Liberty or paying coyotes to smuggle them in down south, even desperately lunging across the border in their ninth month of pregnancy, like a football quarterback trying to lunge into the end zone from the one-yard line, so that their unaborted fetus can come out on American soil.
Communism? Socialism? Other than Arab Muslims fleeing desperately from other Arab Muslims for dear life to anywhere they can get in, ask yourself: Who on earth desperately tries to immigrate into China, into Russia (other than Edward Snowden), into Cuba (other than FBI-wanted Black Panther terrorist and murderer Joanne Chesimard), into Venezuela? When Germany was divided after World War II, the wall was erected to prevent people from fleeing communist/socialist East Germany to the capitalist West. Who tries to flee from South Korea to North Korea? The massive, never-ending onslaught onto our borders demonstrates our country’s unique greatness.
New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has killed 10,000 New York seniors, notoriously stated that America “was never that great.” Actually, it is the New York Times — a paper that assisted Stalin in covering up the Ukrainian Holodomor and that helped Hitler cover up the Holocaust — that was never that great. But America, except for during the Wasted Obama Decade, always has been that great. It was founded upon a great idea, that all people are created equal. It took time for the country’s founders fully to come to terms with their own historic blindness as to slavery, and America continues to pay the price not only for that horrible evil but for failing to assure a socially equitable and just emancipation process when it was terminated. But the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, the sheer decency of most American Founding Fathers created a remarkable country that validated a visionary social experiment.
All that is under attack now, from within. It is deeply painful to watch. As our national culture is brutalized, our beloved country has reason to cry.
Ronald Reagan famously warned, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” The Talmudic Rabbis of Orthodox Judaism understood and accordingly imposed something that a secular society cannot. In Judaism, we are required to sit at the Passover night Seder annually and to discuss and teach our children that we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and if G-d had not taken us out amid signs and wonders, then we today likewise would be slaves. To inculcate and perpetuate the message, the rabbis prescribed rituals and foods that must be explained and then eaten, year after year. The three matzos, the maror (bitter herbs), the parsley (karpas), the shank bone (z’ro’a), the charoset (mix of apples, sweet wine, and cinnamon), the cups of wine. Among Orthodox Jews, no one says, “But we do this every year; do we have to do it again?” Orthodox Jews do not skip the text, tell some jokes at the Seder table, and then rush to the chopped liver and gefilte fish. So, yes, we do it again every year. And we teach it to our children and speak of it to them while sitting in our homes, while traveling on the road, when we lie down, and when we arise (Deuteronomy 6:7).
It is tragic that America, although we instituted Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July, cannot mandate as if by religious ritual those days’ proper observances. So two generations have arisen that do not know what the turkey, cranberry sauce, yams, and apple cider more profoundly represent — the miracle that G-d led the early Pilgrims to the Jamestowns where they somehow survived the harsh new beginnings and the Plymouth Rocks where Puritans likewise planted roots safe from the religious restrictions of England. They do not know that barbecues on Memorial Day are aside the point that we remember those who gave all at Fort Ticonderoga and at Valley Forge, at Fort McHenry and at Northpoint, at Gettysburg and at Fort Wagner, at The Marne and at St. Mihiel, at Normandy and at Okinawa, at La Drang and at Hamburger Hill, in Mosul and in Fallujah. And the same shame recurs when July 4 now merely is associated with firecrackers and fireworks, with two young generations oblivious to the Declaration of Independence on which 56 courageous heroes, leaders with so much to lose, mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
We allowed the Left to seize control of the colleges and universities, as the unrepentant Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn radicals of 1968 had nothing else to do, so went for college teaching to corrupt our young. We could have stopped it, and we still can stop it, but our leaders lack the vision to stop it. Conservative millionaires, egotistically focused on leaving behind legacies, pour their millions into their alma maters to endow chairs and construct buildings where their values are denigrated and where their children and grandchildren are taught to tear down and eradicate all they have built — except for those campus buildings and the memories of the racists for whom many of those universities are named, like Elihu Yale.
Do not cry for fear that Antifa or Black Lives Matter ultimately will rule the day. They are cynically promoted and celebrated today by the corrupt leftist media — CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, and such — and by the equally corrupt and ever-so-much-more vapid entertainment icons of Hollywood and Broadway because they are perceived as useful stooges through whom to take down a uniquely resilient and determined conservative president. But they will be dumped rapidly if Democrats, G-d forbid, take power. Just look at them. Note what these all have in common:
A. G. Sulzberger
E. J. Dionne Jr.
and so many more …
Yes. White. Vanilla. Ivory. Alabaster. Fleece as white as snow. Blanched. Milky. Pale-faced. Achromatic. None of them ever will hand over what they have to Black Lives Matter. Rather, they will do what such people on the left always do: they will mouth platitudes, throw crumbs with the same hollow core of caring as they manifest when feeding birds or zoo animals. They will wear a political button or drape a kente cloth on their shoulders. Will “take a knee” and buy a pair of $300 Nikes that sport a name like Michael Jordan or Colin Kaepernick. They will chant “Defund the Police” while surrounding themselves with a coterie of armed private bodyguards. Will urge open borders and maybe even hire an illegal immigrant to mow their lawn or clean their toilets. Will back sanctuary cities but will live in mansions and multi-million-dollar compounds behind huge walls and protective iron gates. They will call for “Medicare for All” while they maintain their own private platinum health plans and pay thousands annually for their private concierge-plan doctors. They will urge releasing felons from overcrowded prisons while they live in lily-White isolated suburbs those felons never will find. They will oppose public charter schools while sending their own children to the most high-priced exclusive schools they can find, where Latin is taught in kindergarten and admittance practically guarantees ultimate acceptance into a respected university. Even as they advocate open enrollment into colleges, in cases where their own kids grow up to be dimwitted idiots anyway, they will pay hundreds of thousands — half a million bucks — to get their vapid morons into top-name private schools, if only via a crew team.
So, no, the fear is not that Antifa or the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel Black Lives Matter efforts will win the day. In the end, no one is going to pay reparations to anyone, just so that the racist huckster Al Sharpton can pay court-ordered defamation judgments against him. Nick Cannon and Ice Cube will just have to get by on what they have. No city or three-block “liberated zone” is going to last long without police. They, their street riots and anarchy, just are a passing phase that Democrats hope to encourage briefly to flip the 2020 elections. Democrats never will put up with it if they get the Oval Office and the Senate gavel. And those groups will be utterly crushed if the Republicans are reelected in November, deflating Pelosi–Schumer–Media–Hollywood expectations that four years of Mueller investigations, FBI corruption at the top, impeachments, and other interminable mud-slinging would win them the White House.
Rather, the tragedy is that we now have reared two consecutive generations who — but for the patriots who have emerged from solid religious and conservative Christian, Muslim, and Jewish families and even from secular households with patriotic and core-decency values they have handed down to their children — do not grasp what this country’s foundational values are, the history of how those values won the day, and what makes those values eternally precious. Why freedom of speech is precious, even when people say things and express objectionable opinions that at least do not pose a threat of imminent lawless action. Free speech and debate helps both conservatives and liberals gain insights into why some of their ideas are fatally flawed and which ideas do withstand scrutiny, and promotes thinking creatively, outside the box. That is why America so overwhelmingly leads the way in great inventions, and why a small, beleaguered, free-speech country like Israel, surrounded on all sides by medieval barbarians who would destroy them, proves such a disproportionate breeding ground for amazing technological inventions and medical breakthroughs, often augmented by the intellectual contributions of hundreds of thousands who fled there from the repressive former Soviet Union.
We protect religion in this country. We protect the right to bear arms. We protect our homes from unwarranted police invasion. Our private property is protected. We protect against cruel, unusual, and excessive punishment, and we assure accused people the right to confront their accusers in open court, the right to be tried by a jury of their peers, the right to be deemed innocent until proven otherwise, and protection from being compelled to testify against themselves. These are extraordinary values and protections. We give the courts great power, but the legislature can override them by amending the Constitution, and the president names the judges. We give the legislature great power, but the president can veto their laws, and the courts can declare them unconstitutional. We give the president great power, but the legislature can override vetoes and the courts can slap down unlawful executive orders. When court holdings or legislative enactments or presidential executive orders anger other branches, the defeated can condemn, but the military does not intervene, and the Republic stands.
All this makes America great. Throughout the world, everyone knows it. Their jealousy shows it. Their resentment of our power and the power of our ideas of freedom melt when they need us. And they almost always do.
Our tears must come from what has become of our two generations most recently corrupted by too many universities. It is time to reconsider federal funding of non-STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) scholarship. We should not fund any program that has a political orientation so blatant that it would be denied 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status if it were a citizens’ group. We should not fund any program where the employees are guaranteed tenure for life without the possibility of being fired. We should impose a wealth test, since the universities promote such equality of results. No university should be entitled to federal funding unless and until it spends down its endowments, just as senior citizens find when they seek affordability and government assistance to enter nursing homes.
The government should not stand behind college and university student loans, but instead the colleges and universities themselves should be fully on the line for running student loan programs; in that way, those programs will survive only if college and university graduates proceed to gainful long-term employment, which itself will induce such institutions to teach substantive subjects of practical market value. Moreover, by removing government completely from the student loan business and decentralizing it to the schools themselves, we will stop and even reduce salary inflation and administrative bloating, unlike the present system that encourages colleges and universities to raise salaries, expand administrative branches, and skyrocket tuition and dormitory costs annually because the schools know the federal government will lend the money, no matter the rising costs, and the students will borrow without the maturity to grasp how that loan burden will saddle them and constrict them from marrying, starting a family, and buying a home at the age that their parents could.
Cry the beloved country. What we are witnessing is a terrible shame of historical dimensions. But don’t cry for too long. Instead, after a good loud wail, get up and take back the culture and values that we still hold dear and self-evident. There still is time. But that window is narrowing.