Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Good Times, Bad Times

"This is the worst time in the history of our country."

That's what a listener claimed in an e-mail to me yesterday after President Obama signed the health care reform bill. This is an ignoramous who has no sense of perspective, nor any idea what he's talking about when it comes to history.

He must not have heard of The Civil War, when Americans fought each other for four long years at a time when the nation was literally in danger of falling apart.

He must not have heard of The Great Depression, when Americans suffered through a decade of devastating economic hardship the likes of which a current generation can't even imagine.

He must not have heard of World War II, when Americans went overseas to help fight for freedom against fascism, while those who stayed home sacrificed, were subject to rationing of many goods, and struggled through another difficult economy.

He must not have lived through The Sixties, when a draft sent tens of thousands of young men to fight an unpopular war to keep the nations of Southeast Asia from falling like dominoes to the communist threat -- laughable in retrospect, considering that Vietnam is now a communist country that we have good diplomatic and trade relations with, surrounded by several nations that never became communist.

He must not have heard of The Civil Rights Movement, when Americans couldn't sit at a lunch counter or vote or work in many places, and were often hanged, shot, or knocked down by high-pressure fire hoses, simply because of their skin color.

He must not have lived through The Energy Crisis of the 1970s, when the lines for gas stations went around the block. Not to mention mortgage rates in the double digits.

He must not have paid attention in school when these things were taught. Or more likely, he conveniently forgets history when he hears the Fear Media repeatedly tell him lies like this because they don't like the man in the White House.

Take a look at a new poll from the Louis Harris polling company (no relation). See how many Republicans still believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim (57%), a Socialist (67%), is anti-American (41%), wants to take away their guns (61%), and wasn't born in the US and is thus ineligible for the presidency (45%).

Those are astounding numbers, full of fears stoked by the same people who decry the mainstream media, even though they host the most popular talk radio and cable TV news shows or work for the most popular cable news channel. When you are that popular, you are the mainstream media. That doesn't mean you speak for most Americans, but it's hypocrisy to rail against the domination of the airwaves at the same time you boast about how big your ratings are.

I see a different America. My America is progressive -- not in the left-wing political sense, but in how our nation keeps making progress, moving forward despite the deniers and haters. We are a nation that, in our short 234-year history, has moved beyond the days when one man could own another man, when women couldn't vote or be treated as equals, when children were forced to work from an early age, when employers got away with unbearable exploitation of employees. The list goes on and on.

We still have big problems in this country, but we keep making grand strides in the right direction. If that e-mailer knew anything about American history, he'd be able to look back at the obstacles we've overcome and understand that, despite the pessimists, haters, and fear-mongers, we're still better than we were. And we'll keep striving to be better.

The best time in the history of our country is tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that.