Articles

American Greatness

August 21, 2018

Certain animals, horse, cattle, sheep, etc., are subject to what is commonly called "hoof-and-mouth" disease, which produces a (usually) non-lethal ulceration of both hooves and mouths.

Public speakers are subject to "hoof-IN-mouth" disease. They put their feet in their mouth, metaphorically speaking.

I assume no human is capable, physically, of performing such a bodily contortion, but speech contortion is common. Too common. We are watching some pundits making a career out of attempting to prove our current president is all-world at it. Perhaps so. That is for another time. My focus here is on another politician, Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, who recently put both feet in his fulsome mouth. Up to his knees.

Jesus used a magnificent metaphor about some religionists of his day when he said they were like some apothecaries (i.e., druggists) who, while compounding their medicines, would be careful to strain out a gnat but allow a camel---head, hide, hump, hooves and all---to remain in the mix. In that cautionary tale, he was saying, among other things, that such inconsistency is not a new species of disease in man's moral pharmacopeia. It is constant. Was, is, and will be.

But back to Mr. Cuomo. Responding to the current president's motto of "Make America Great Again," he averred that "America was never that great." One wonders: did he really mean to say what he said? If he believes America should not be classified as a "great" nation, which modern nation (how about "any nation ever") would he suggest did, or does, deserve the label?" And anyway, how would such a status be proven? And who are the judges?

Cuomo's statement calls into question exactly how much the man knows about his nation's history. With all her problems---many of which are admittedly intransigent, what nation sent its best a hundred years ago to Europe to prevent our cousins there from succumbing to the Axis powers? Or what nation has ever done anything comparable to what America did in WWII to prevent all Europeans from speaking German? As a first language. What about fifty years of protecting them from the communists? What about the horrific price America paid in what is now South Korea and South Viet Nam, investments which allowed for the creation of two of the most powerful economies, managed by free peoples (!), in all of Asia?

What about almost 400,000 white (!) Americans---Union soldiers---giving their lives to liberate black slaves in our own country? Has anything remotely resembling that ever occurred in the long and tortuous history of humankind?

When is the last time anyone heard of France liberating another country? Or England? Or Russia? Or China? How about a South American country? Or any one of the more-than-fifty African nations? Or anybody else? For the New York governor, do those facts not distinguish America as an exceptional country, as possessing, at least to some degree, serious national greatness?

What other country in human history ever put many hundreds of thousands of her military personnel in countries around the world, as we do today, at astronomic financial costs, to guarantee safety for their free societies?

What other country in human history has received as many legal immigrants (maybe illegal as well!) as America? America is the world leader, in all human history, in that regard. 

To add to his oratorical feat, the governor said something else which, at best, is just as puerile: he said America can be called great only when all Americans are "fully engaged." No one under the sun, including himself, knows what he might have meant. (I hear you shouting, "Duh! He means when everybody votes for his party!") If he was referring to every American being involved in the political process, I say well and good! We revere our ancient forebears, especially the "enlightened" Greeks and Romans, for encouraging that.

As lamentable as political non-participation is, it is one of our treasured constitutional rights. Every Founding Father bewailed such lassitude, as we do, but they would have, one and all, said no law should countermand it.

That thing about everything important being taught in kindergarten is right. Rule 7 suggests, "Keep your feet off the furniture." It might prove salutary to add, "and out of your mouth."

Bill Anderson
Grapevine, Texas