Frank Roetzel: Dear Ms. Dowd
July 7, 2014
I would like to answer your question from your editorial, "Who do we think we are?" Before I do, I would like to comment on some of your posed questions.
I am sorry you are so disappointed in America that you see July Fourth as a "commiseration of American disappointment." The majority of Americans still see it as a celebration of "American exceptionalism," including the thousands who continue to flock to our shores to enjoy the benefits of this country.
Yes, at times, Americans seems to overindulge. If you excuse us for not being perfect, I can answer your questions. Yes, we are winners, and the biggest and the baddest. No, we are not smaller, losers, stingy, dumb or cynical. The media seems to want to portray America that way, perhaps to make them feel intellectually superior, but their self-anointed superiority and cynicism does not make it true.
Yes, once we had Louis Zampperini and other heroes. Today, we have the same thing. If you are going to invoke heroism as a thing of the past, you insult the thousands of men and women who are just as heroic today as they defend your freedom to be critical of the country you live in. I remind you that in many countries, you would have been imprisoned, tortured and even executed for writing a critical article. The freedoms you enjoy may be God-given rights, but other people have, and will continue to try, to take them away. America always will produce heroes to defend your rights, Ms. Dowd.
I am perplexed by your assertion that we are afraid of our own shadows and that we cannot understand one another or cohere. You state that the founding fathers held together people with deep differences. You overlook the fact that the initial nation was almost exclusively made of Western Europeans. We are a vastly more diverse country today than then. We remain the melting pot of the world, and while not perfect, we do a far better job working together than many other countries with far less diversity.
You state that President Barack Obama wanted to make government "cool," but some things in life are not meant to "be cool." You state people are tired of complexity. The world is complex and has harsh realities that we must address if we want to live our life with the freedoms and protection we take for granted.
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Americans are not deities, and we do not always act in the noblest way. But we are the protector, the bread basket and the economic engine of the world. The rest of the world still looks to America as the greatest land of opportunity, the land of unimaginable freedom. That is quite a burden we bear. Perhaps your dark view of America is literary hyperbole, but through such practice, you contribute greatly to the very pessimism you lament. There are far more things great about America than bad about America.
Now I want to answer your question. I feel confident that I speak for most Americans when I say we are the best country on the planet Earth. We are benevolent, peace loving and empathetic. We love individual freedom, and we help those in need. We sacrifice our own lives for people we don't know in far off lands so that they can live free. We are the country that more people come to than any other country on the planet. We are not perfect, we are human.
Finally, I speak for most Americans when I say there is no phrase that brings more pride than to say … I am an American.
Steamboat Springs and Houston, Texas