The following essay was sent to me on 20 September 2001 by Fredo Arias-King, a resident of Mexico City, and is used with his blessing. He wrote that "The essay by Sinclair inspired me to write this one, and I have been circulating it to my friends in the U.S. Take care." It should be noted that, despite popular belief (including mine, at first), Sinclair's commentary was written in 1973, not in the 90's and not in light of the attacks on New York and the Pentagon. However, I do not doubt that were Sinclair alive today, he would write a similar commentary praising America ...
To my red-blooded American friends:
Some of you were very kind to send me an essay by a Canadian gentleman entitled "America: The Good Neighbour," espousing his open admiration for the United States. It was about time someone said that Americans are the most generous and the least-appreciated people on Earth, and may I add, in all of history.
In this time of sadness and soul-searching for America, I would like to join in from the other side of the border.
Mexico does not realize how lucky it is to have America as its neighbor. Poland, which is between Germany and Russia, and lost twenty million people just in this past century as a result, would trade places with Mexico any day. Mexico lost the same twenty million people to the U.S., but in a very different way - they are living voluntarily in such grand cities as Chicago, LA and El Paso. Poles actually laugh at Mexicans that complain about the United States. Americans should do the same.
All we have to do, is look at who is for America and who is against. It is no coincidence that small, peaceful and beautiful democracies support and even love America; countries such as Holland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Poland, Finland, Estonia, Ireland, Taiwan. It is inevitably the neighborhood bullies that despise America, countries with a long record of imperial ambitions and human-rights catastrophes, and who feel they can't continue doing that because of America.
My friend Lech Walesa enjoys calling America "the beacon of democracy and freedom" that inspired his struggle. Maybe that is why the useless and filo-communist "Eurocrats" in Brussels snubbed Walesa and treated him with disdain, the same way they snub America.
Similarly, the freaks that rule most of the Latin American countries most of the time, love to throw verbal venom at America ("Yankee go home, and take me with you!") yet fly up to Houston to have their manicures done, paying for them with what they stole from their countries' poor (or with American aid money). One exception to the typical Latin American president was Oscar Arias (no relation, unfortunately) of that little island of democracy and human rights called Costa Rica. He once called America "The only benevolent empire in human history." Arias learned first hand the golden rule of America's foreign policy: Those nations that treat their people and their neighbors well, can always expect to have America as their friend. What other country can boast the same?
Few Americans truly realize how unique they are. No other nation on earth approximates, or has ever approximated, her openness, generosity and entrepreneurship. She has the mind and behavior of a small European democracy but with an awesome power that she very reluctantly uses. I fondly recall all my years in the United States. Every time I would try to do something constructive, there was never a lack of enthusiastic Americans to help me, expecting no reward but the feeling of accomplishment and benevolence. I cannot say that I have ever, in all my travels, encountered anything like this.
In all the times that I was helping democracy activists in the post-communist world and in Mexico, it was Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs that supported these struggles, poured in time, advice and resources so that others can have a better life.
I have always said that Americans are the most perfect people on Earth: They have the sense of fair play and good government of the British, the efficiency and hard work of the Germans, the charm and good humor of the Irish, the creativity and enlightened individualism of the Italians, the compulsive do-gooding and modesty of the Scandinavians, the commercial acumen of the Dutch, the people skills of the Greeks, the hospitality and warmth of the Africans, the bravery and down-to-earthness of the Poles, the rationality of the Czechs, the super-human intelligence of the Hungarians, the humanism and legalism of the French, the stubborn tenacity of the Finns, the desire for achievement of the Jews, and a long et cetera. Yet, the deficiencies of these cultures were left behind in the old continents.
Regrettably, some Americans don't make life easy for those who support her. It is not as "sexy" or as "cool" being pro-American, while the opposite is true. Some Americans have a strong instinct of appeasement that serves to encourage America's enemies more than her friends. American universities fall over one another to invite American enemies to their forums.
For example, Mexico's current foreign minister up until the day of his nomination spoke of America in terms not that dissimilar to those of Osama Bin Laden's. At the same time, this man spoke glowingly of murderous communist dictators. Yet the New York Times made him a regular columnist, so he could throw his tirades against America from those pages. That newspaper recently called him a "friend" of the U.S.
On the other hand, we have 40% of the Mexican population that identifies itself with the PAN, a political party that is virtually unknown in the U.S., and which is the only party here that simply is not anti-American. It is a party with middle-class values, which in its 60 years has always espoused such boring things as democracy and economic freedom, and "good neighborliness" with America. Yet many American elites largely ignored this party until it won the presidency a year ago.
Clinton put as his top Russia advisor someone who openly defended the Soviet leaders during the Cold War and blamed America for provoking that standoff. Current president Bush put as his trade commissioner a person who supported the Mexican dictatorship. Someone has to ask, Why do some Americans love to help and promote their sworn enemies?
What the world's anti-Americans have in common (besides their bad breath) is a case of Freudian "projection": They paranoically accuse America of all the nasty things they would love to be doing if they could. And that's not the only Freudian problem they have: Notice how they are always obsessed with the "phallic" symbols of America's power.
When you ask them, "so if not America, then who should be the preeminent power?" "Well, Russia of course!" "Well, Syria of course!" "Well, China of course!" I'm sure the world would really be better-off with that.
America must learn that most of the world is populated with what I call "zero-sum" cultures, which are totally opposite to the American one. These "zero-sum" cultures ("If you have something, that means you took it from me") see generosity as a weakness, violation as a strength, mediocrity as a virtue, and honesty as a vice. But they also admire those that speak to them in their language. Notice that the most popular president in Russia today is not Carter or Clinton, but Reagan, who led the moral crusade that destroyed the Soviet Union. The Argentine president fondly called Margaret Thatcher "the mother of Argentine democracy" for crushing their invasion of the British Falkland Islands in 1982.
But those of us who love America have also sinned. We did not speak in America's favor more often and more forcefully, perhaps taking for granted that someone else was already doing so. We have allowed America's flea-bitten enemies to monopolize the discourse, to create hatred and sow suspicion. A line should be drawn.
While most powers in history demand respect, America seeks affection: she wants to be loved by others. If not for America, this era would be not that much different from some cruel, Hobbesian, "eye for an eye" nightmare. There are still too many ways we can fall back to the darker periods of history, but America is one of the few assurances that we will not. All the decent-minded people of the world need America to be strong, to be ready and to have resolve. Thank God for the United States.
With great force and conviction I repeat what my Canadian friend said the other day: STAND PROUD, AMERICA!