The woke crowd should wake up: Ours is a country to brag about
You’re always on shaky ground when you make generalizations, but that doesn’t mean the generalization isn’t true. In fact, very often it’s the opposite. That’s probably how it became a generalization in the first place.
Here’s a generalization that a lot of conservatives believe is true: that while liberal elites may love some hypothetical, perfect version of America — one where there’s absolutely no racism, no discrimination of any kind, no bad cops, no pollution — they don’t love the America we currently inhabit. Or at least, they’re not proud of their country.
This was true before Donald Trump came along and made them ill. It’s especially true now with all that’s coming out at the Jan. 6 House hearings. But it’s not just Trump himself who has soured them on America, a man they likened to all sorts of Nazis. It’s also the millions of Americans in “flyover country” who voted for him. To the elite left, this is not a country they want to brag about.
Just this week, with the Fourth of July right around the corner, New York Times columnist Pamela Paul wrote about all sorts of things she finds wrong with America. “What, if anything, makes this country different from other countries … in terms of morals or ideals?” she wondered. Could it be our freedom? The rights outlined in our Constitution? That we’re a haven for legal immigrants? None of the above, as far as Paul is concerned. “I land on a distinct absence of mercy,” she concluded, and “I can’t help but see a particular American bent toward cruelty.”
The column, by the way, ran under the headline, “America the Merciless.”
A while back, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted that “American workers are some of the most overworked yet our standard of living has fallen. For many, the American dream has become a nightmare.”
The American dream … a nightmare? That’s pretty dark stuff, though not really surprising coming from a progressive. And while Sanders said it back in 2016 when he was running for president, I suspect it’s what a lot of progressives think today. No matter how much progress we make, for elites on the left, the glass always seems to be half empty.
Never mind that you could make a case that they’re the ones who should be chanting, “USA! USA! USA!” Democrats control the House, the Senate, the White House — and, for crying out loud, they control American culture.
It’s not conservatives who run most American news organizations, or American universities, or Hollywood entertainment. “Woke” leftists even have taken over many American corporations. They’re the ones who set the table for the national conversation.
But somehow, it’s not enough. And in their worldview, just about everything wrong with America leads back to the Republican Party — which, in fairness, is pretty much how hard-right conservatives feel about the Democratic Party. And while we’re on the subject, you could make a case that Donald Trump doesn’t love America, either. If he did, would he play fast and loose with our democracy, our Constitution? Would someone who loved America try to steal the election he claims was stolen from him? Would he try to do an end run around the peaceful transfer of power after he lost the election in 2020?
Still, it’s elites on the left, with their holier-than-thou sanctimony and their supposed intelligence and sophistication, that I find so annoying.
Here’s what I mean: After the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Charles Blow, one of the New York Times’ many progressive columnists, wrote, “I understand that Republicans are the opposition, that they have come to accept staggering levels of death as the price they must pay to advance their political agenda on everything from COVID to guns.”
Republicans aren’t simply wrong, as far as many on the left are concerned, they’re people who make cold-blooded political calculations so they can accept a “staggering” level of death “to advance their political agenda.”
And the problems we have can’t be fixed by mere tweaks around the edges, as far as the elites are concerned. Everything is a threat to our very existence.
Climate change is an “existential threat,” the left keeps telling us. It’s a crisis that will end life as we know it if we don’t do something in the next 10 minutes. It’s also our very system of government, one that has survived for almost 250 years, that is constantly on the verge of going over the cliff — at least according to a lot of liberal and progressive Democrats who sound like a broken record when they tell us that democracy is under siege, thanks again to Republicans in general and Donald Trump in particular.
Maybe, to their discredit, some on the right choose not to see racism where it actually exists. Maybe they make a conscious decision to look the other way. But to the left, there aren’t simply pockets of racism in America. The way they see it, racism is “systemic” — it’s a poison that is running through the bloodstream of the entire nation.
For the record, I’m not nostalgic for the “good ol’ days” when, if you didn’t have a blind allegiance to the country, you were tarred as unpatriotic, maybe even as a communist. And I’m not endorsing Republican profiles in cowardice, those politicians who are too afraid to stand up to Donald Trump or to the NRA’s lobbying. I’m not defending the knuckleheads who stormed the Capitol — or Republicans who reflexively support anything Democrats hate and hate anything Democrats embrace. I’m merely pointing out that despite all the progress we’ve made in this country — on race, the environment, gay rights and all sorts of other issues — nothing seems to be good enough for a lot of my friends on the left.
Do they really not understand why so many people in so many countries actually admire the United States? Is it really a mystery why so many people from all corners of the planet desperately want to come to America?
Yes, there’s enough to gripe about. We’re a long way from being perfect here in America. But if this really were a country beset by “white supremacy” and “white privilege” and “oppression” of minorities, would people from all over the world choose to live here?
Despite your worst fears, my progressive and liberal friends, we still live in a free country. We can come and go as we please. And in case you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of folks coming — and almost nobody going. So, take a deep breath and try to have a happy Fourth of July.
Bernard Goldberg is an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist. He was a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” for 22 years and previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and as an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Substack page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.