America is angry. Look at the faces of the presidential candidates. Angry angry angry. Argh!, they seem to be saying, like movie pirates. The candidates tell us what they're angry about. The pundits tell us why there's so much anger in the land.
I don't buy it.
That many things are wrong is true. But on the whole many things are right. Why do you think all those immigrants and refugees try get in here, legally or otherwise. It's not so they can suffer all the things that are wrong and be angry too. It's so they can enjoy all the things that are right and smile a great big smile.
Peace. America is at war on different fronts, but very little spills into the homeland. OK, there was 9/11 and that was huge. And there have been other terrorist attacks -- as well as debate as to what constitutes a terrorist attack. But for the most part American life is peaceful. And we do a pretty good job of avoiding attacks by our sworn enemies. There are countries where acts of war and terrorism are part of daily life. Curiously, many people in those countries are known for their good humor.
Prosperity. We are out of the Great Recession, which never turned into a Great Depression. Our fat problem is far bigger than our hunger problem. People still get rich. People still send their kids to school. People still manage to have what to many outside our borders looks like a pretty good life. Again, why do you think they're trying to cross those borders?
Government. Sure, there's corruption, cronyism, bad administration. But on the whole, it works. Step into a country where you have to bribe every cop you see, where administrations walk into the treasury and fill their bags before they leave, where the most minor interaction with government is a red tape nightmare that leads nowhere, and you will be happy to get back to the land of a tax-return check you can cash.
Race. This is a thorny issue. Let's face it, a lot of Americans are angry because there's a black family in the White House. A lot of black Americans are angry because they are treated abusively and at the least discriminatorily. But Americans have a long history of dealing with racial issues, and that history has made us sophisticated about them. We don't sweep them under the rug, like other societies that pretend to be free of racial animus. We deal with them, clumsily perhaps, but we do give it our best shot. And a lot of Americans think a black family in the White House is way cool. I'm one of them.
Freedom. We are wonderfully free. If I wanted to badmouth the President of the United States or his family in this post, I could do so. I believe those who do are guilty of being distasteful, but that is no crime. I don't think it's right to insult the Commander in Chief. But I also don't believe it's right to applaud the national anthem or sing it in the mode of an American idol contestant. I'm old-fashioned. But, hey, if you want to be distasteful, knock yourself out. It's the land of the free. Not perfectly free, but not bad either. Again, the evidence of the refugees. I'm not a fan of P.J. O'Rourke's politics, but when on a visit to my native Cuba he pointed out the difference between a country people are trying to get out of and one people are trying to get into, he was spot on.
Sensitivity. Yes, we fall into the silly traps of political correctness, but if silliness is as bad as it gets, heck, I can live with that. On the other hand, to show sensitivity and kindness are good things. I once happened to spend an evening in the company of disabled, or whatever the politically correct word is, young people. They called themselves "gimps" in the same defiant way of avoiding correctness as young black folk who call themselves "niggers." But it's one thing to be young and rebellious and another to suffer name-calling from others. And when I get debilitated enough by illness or old age or both to need a wheelchair I'll be very pleased that some lobbyists for sensitivity and kindness mandated wheelchair accessibility in public spaces. Just like I think I'll be pleased that wheelchairs keep getting lighter, more maneuverable and kickass, borrowing technology from racing bicycles. I just hope Medicare or some forthcoming health plan gets me state of the art.
Perhaps it's an immigrant's gratitude. I like it here. I can't believe we're poised to elect a Screamer in Chief out of some misbegotten anger. WTF, y'all? Chill. Didn't you get the memo? We're having a party!