A July 4 thought: If America’s so bad, why do so many want to come here?
I don’t know if elites on the hard left really hate this country, as more than a few conservatives believe they do, but I know this much for certain: They have no love for present-day America, the country we live in.
They don’t appreciate or admire or respect today’s America, a place they see as deeply flawed, as racist, sexist, homophobic and hostile to anyone who isn’t as decent as they believe themselves to be. To them, the American flag is not a symbol of anything worthy of their admiration, let alone something worth fighting for; to many of them, the flag is just one more symbol of white supremacy and oppression.
You may know about Gwen Berry, the African American athlete and Black Lives Matter activist, who will go to the Olympics in Japan this summer to participate in the hammer-throwing competition. She came in third in the national trials and, while the first- and second-place finishers stood respectfully — hands over their hearts, facing the flag — as the national anthem was played, Berry turned her back on the flag and covered her head with a T-shirt with the motto “Activist Athlete.” Later she said, “The anthem doesn’t speak for me. It never has.”
She’s hardly alone among progressives. Ben Rhodes, a high-ranking, well-educated official in the Obama White House, writes in his new book, “After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made,” that he would “look at the flag that once stirred such emotion in me and feel absolutely nothing.”
It’s a familiar refrain coming from America’s progressive elites. But, hey, it’s a free country so, like everyone else, they can believe whatever they wish. Still, facts matter, regardless of how you feel about the country that gives you the right — the constitutional right, no less — to bash it.
So let’s consider a few facts.
People from Mexico and Central America leave their homes and make their way across dangerous terrain to start a new life in America. Why would so many Latinos want to come to a country that supposedly has so little respect for minorities?
Kevin Hart, the comedian, is a funny guy, but he wasn’t joking when he told The New York Times that, “You’re witnessing white power and white privilege at an all-time high.” Really? If that were true, why would so many Black people come to America from Africa and the Caribbean? Don’t they know what Hart and white progressive elites keep telling us — that America suffers from systemic racism and white supremacy?
You think poor and oppressed people living in Asia who want a better life are salivating at the prospect of moving to China — or would they rather come to the United States? Even those on the progressive left, one would hope, know the answer to that.
Yes, America does have a problem with immigration. But the problem is that so many people want to come in. In a country like ours, people are free to go anytime they want. But they don’t. That ought to tell the America-detractors something.
I might understand why progressives detested so much about America when Donald Trump was president; they detested everything about him, so despising the country that he led had a certain logic, perverse as it was.
But now their team is in charge. A Democrat is in the White House, one who talks a lot about race and bigotry and the climate catastrophe that supposedly is coming — and yet, they still can’t stand their own country. What would make them happy? What country do they think is more in tune with their “woke” sensibilities?
If there wasn’t even one bigot in America, if sexism and homophobia ceased to exist, if there wasn’t an iota of pollution in the air and water, would that make them love their country? Maybe, but I doubt it. I think a lot of them believe that loving your country — even with its flaws — is what conservatives do, it’s what people who live in “flyover country” do, it’s what the “hayseeds” who eat at chain restaurants and fly the American flag on the Fourth of July do. Loving America is uncool, and they’d rather walk barefoot over shards of broken glass than be perceived as uncool — or as embracing traditional, conservative values.
But how bad can a country really be, they might want to ask themselves, if it allows its citizens to publicly denounce it, with no fear of being sent to an American gulag? Try that in a lot of other places and, if you’re lucky and don’t wind up dead or behind bars, you’ll find yourself in a reeducation camp.
How bad can America be if it not only endured for nearly 250 years but has worked hard to cleanse itself of its historical sins? Why would so many on the outside want to come here and proudly call themselves Americans?
That’s something America’s homegrown detractors might want to think about this July 4.
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 Patreon page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.