Let’s all agree that America is much more than ‘just OK’

7/7/19
 
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BY CYNTHIA M. ALLEN,

from Fort Worth Star Telegram,
7/5/19:

It seems an inevitability that every year around the Fourth of July, certain media will publish a series of articles reminding people how unremarkable it is to live in America.

This year The New York Times’ opinion team didn’t disappoint, publishing a video that declared, “we’re just OK,” and explaining to viewers that when compared to other industrialized nations, the U.S. really doesn’t stack up.

The video cites “a whopping 18 percent poverty rate, closer to Mexico than Western Europe,” lower high school science, reading and math levels compared to other nations, and high rates of obesity that result in far higher healthcare costs, to name of few of America’s unforgivable blemishes.

The video, of course, mockingly mentions the areas in which America excels, including “civilian gun ownership, mass shootings, TV watching, prescription drug abuse, prison population — Oh, and almost No. 1 on environmental damage, edged out by China.”

Despite The New York Times’ poo-pooing of American freedom as something ordinary or banal, freedom is a hallmark of American greatness. It is what has made many of its other attributes (and failures) possible. And over the years, despite arguments to the contrary, freedom in the U.S. has vastly expanded — from women’s rights to race relations and civil rights to gay rights — and it has happened in a remarkably short period of time.

There are legitimate reasons for concern over our nation’s direction. Political extremism on both ends of the spectrum, although hardly a U.S.-specific problem, has the potential to limit freedoms in ways the Founders foresaw; and we have the power to prevent.

The images of migrants crossing our nation’s southern border and enduring awful conditions in detention centers for many reasons are difficult to stomach. Yet they are the starkest reminder that our nation is more than just OK. It is great. People wouldn’t be clamoring to get here if it weren’t.

It’s best we keep that in mind this Fourth and every day after.

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