Every now and again I am subject to one of my peers sharing a video and ironically called "The Most Honest Three Minutes in Television History." If you have not seen it, I suggest watching the video before continuing but, in short, it is news anchor Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, launching into a monolog about why America isn't the greatest nation anymore, prompted by a young woman's question during a panel discussion. This monolog has become the rallying speech for smug millennials, protesters, and people who generally want to take America down a few pegs. However, like most smug millennials, protesters, and people who want to take America down a few pegs, the whole thing is, at best, misinformed or outright ignorant.
The whole thing starts off with the two panelists alongside Jeff Daniels giving off their answers as to why America is the greatest country in the world. The first says, "Diversity and opportunity" while the second claims "Freedom and freedom." Before I even go into Jeff Daniel's response, let's look at the two answers. From a writer's standpoint, these answers were made to seem stupid only to heighten the perceived intelligence of Will McAvoy.
I don't think I'm far off in saying that outside of America, Western Europe is the most democratic, progressive, 'free-est' place in the world. So let's look at what diversity, opportunity, and freedom look like in Europe.
There's no denying it that diversity helps fight things like racism and intolerance. 68 percent of Italians supported expelling Gypsies from the nation, and after the arrest of a Roma woman, Southern Italians went about burning and driving out Roma burrows. You know, like Americans did to the Irish...100 years ago. In 2007, the Swiss introduced a law saying members of a community would have to vote on approval for your citizenship application to go through, and since this law has passed, immigration of Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Greeks, and Asians has completely plummeted. As for Scandinavian countries, they won't let you live there unless you're completely white, fellow Scandinavians and Anglo-Saxons, so Italians, Spaniards, and the Polish were not "white enough."
As for opportunity and freedom, there's really no competition. For the past 300 years, millions of people have been flooding to America for our economic opportunity. In regards to freedom, Western Europeans do live under a democracy, but France recently passed a law forbidding her citizens from wearing yamukas or burkas. In Britain, and most of Europe, you can't own a TV without first acquiring a license, and in Spain, any jokes against the monarchy, or tweeting the location of a protest, are known as crimes against the crown and aiding terrorism respectively. So, in the first two throw away responses only added to pump up Jeff Daniel's intelligence, there's enough to prove our greatness.
However, we're not here to talk about that. We're here to talk about why Will McAvoy is wrong, so let's jump right into it.
"Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium has freedom. 270 sovereign states have in the world, 180 of them have freedom." But do they? The key difference between America and the rest of the world, in regards to freedom and liberty, is where we believe our freedom comes from. To the rest of the world, even with countries who modeled their constitution after ours, their freedom comes from the government. Sure, they have the right to free speech and assembly, but, as we're seeing, all the government has to do is pass a law and suddenly it's "Oh, I no longer have the freedom of religion, cool... cool. Guess I'll go write an article on it. Oh, what's that, I can't? You also took away freedom of the press? Cool... cool."
In America, however, we believe our rights come from our Creator. We believe that our rights come from a place untouched by man and a government, even by consent, can pass any laws they want and we would still be entitled to our rights. So who is more free? The people whose rights can be stripped with the stroke of a pen or the people whose rights can never be taken away?
Now, most people who have taken a politics class would have immediately caught this, however, since most people choose Introduction to Politics as their 'nap class,' I am forced to continue with Will McAvoy's rant.
My first question is this: why is a nation whose entire ideals revolve around private enterprise getting judged for its public services? Because that's where all those numbers come from, by the way. seventh in literacy, 27th in math, and 22nd in science. Those numbers completely rule out private education, and that is a pretty big deal. Do you want to know how good our private education in America is? With 10 percent of our population having attended private school, we completely dominate the world in science, mathematics, and culture. This is ignoring the fact that we are the only nation to put a man on the moon (40 years and the world still hasn't caught up), we publish 16,000,000 scientific research papers per year (as much as the next five nations combined), and of the 50 top blockbusters, of all time, every single one of them was made in an American film studio. It's actually a bit idiotic to truly believe we're 27th in math and 22nd in science while leading the world in scientific advancement and mathematical research.
Nevertheless, Jeff Daniels is not done with has rant, not by far. He claims we're 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income and fourth in exports. Let's see why the rest of the world is so much better than these truly horrific numbers.
Do you know that the U.S. is the only country who will knowingly let poor people legally gain citizenship? As long as you haven't committed a crime, the U.S. will legally let anyone come into the point that 98 percent of the immigrant population each year falls below the U.S. poverty level, yet we still take them in. Of course, we're going to be low in life expectancy and infant mortality when we willingly take in the poor, the sick, and the uneducated. If someone tried to move to Canada or Europe who was poor, sick, or uneducated, they would be kicked to the curb before their papers even processed. What do you think would happen if we took 4,000,000 poor, sick, and uneducated people and just put them in Canada or Switzerland or Sweden? Do you think their life expectancy and mortality rates would stay the same? As for being fourth in exports, that's more or less irrelevant when you live in a nation that is the largest consumer in the world. We don't need to export goods because there's someone willing to buy them here in America.
But Jeff Daniels decides to throw America a bone and list what we lead the world in, which amounts to incarcerated citizens per capita, adults who believe in angels, and defense spending where we outspend the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies.
Well, this one is easy enough to go about. The incarcerated citizens per capita is because the U.S. willingly takes in the impoverished, and since we allow all races and religions to immigrate, it can lead to some tension, unlike Europe, who likes to keep her countries as ethnically pure as possible. As for adults believing in angels, who gives a crap? It doesn't matter if they believe in angels, xenu, or the tooth fairy; it hasn't stopped us from having the most powerful economy, culture, military, or scientific advancements. People can believe whatever they want here, that's the point. Now as for the defense spending, this one has always a personal favorite of mine, because it is all very asinine.
First off, it's the next eight countries combined, not 25, and unless you believe Russia, Saudi Arabia, and India are allies, then only four make that list. Furthermore, if you truly believe that China and Russia are accurately reporting their military strength to the United Nations, then bless your heart, but you should probably not go into international politics. On top of this, most European nations, namely France, Germany, and the U.K. are purposefully downsizing their militaries in favor of relying on the U.S. to come defend them incase of an incident. Even more to the point, half the reason the U.S.'s military budget is so expensive, besides the technology that is literally decades past the competition, is because we take care of our soldiers. A Chinese soldier is paid one-ninth that of a U.S. soldier, and even then, the Chinese soldier gets drastically smaller healthcare or Veteran benefits. If the U.S.'s big military budget comes from futuristic technology, taking care of our soldiers, and single-handedly protecting the western world, I think it's worth the bill.
Then, to make Will McAvoy seem more rational and not just a dime a dozen whiner, he goes on to talk about how America used to be great, how we "stood up for what was right, fought for moral reasons, waged war on poverty, not poor people; we sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouth was, we never beat our chest, we built great big things, we made ungodly technological advancements, explored the universe, cured diseases, cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy. We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn't scare so easy."
So my first question is this: has this man ever picked up an American history book?
When we sent a million men to fight to secure economic interests during the first World War. Was that for 'moral reasons?' Or when the patriots fought to protest getting taxed, was that a 'moral reason'? I'm sorry if I'm the first person to tell you this, but wars are fought over economics, resources, and politics. Nobody has ever entered a war because it was the 'moral thing to do.'
'Waged war on poverty, not poor people.' The U.S. used to have debtors' prisons, for Christ's sake. That's literally waging a war on poor people, and you're telling me there's an issue with it now? Seriously. History book, learn something.
'We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouth was.' There's really no way to prove or explain this because it's just more rambling, but all I can say that's mildly relevant to this sentence is that more Americans are giving to charity than ever before.
'We never beat our chest, we built great things, we made ungodly technological advancements, we explored the universe, cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy.'
George Washington personally led an army of 13,000 men to crush 500 rebels and President Truman wiped two cities off the face of the earth to intimidate the Russians. If that's not beating your chest I literally don't know what is. What 'ungodly' technological advancements did we make in our past that even compares to what we have now? Touchscreen technology, holograms, clean energy, nuclear energy, self-driving cars, robotics, and 3D printers are all things 'modern Americans' have to our name.
In the past 10 years, we landed a rover on Mars, landed a rover on a moving asteroid, and have undergone preparations for a manned colonial mission to Mars. If that's not exploring the universe enough, I'm sure we'll do better. As for the world's greatest artists and strongest economy, it doesn't have to be restated that America is the cultural epicenter of the world and with 5 percent of the world's population, our GDP is the largest by far.
In this whole rant, there is one truly true statement. "The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one." America does have problems that do need to be addressed, but these lies, these blatant attacks founded on no knowledge of politics, history, or economics, are not a way to address America's issues. They are nothing more than fuel for smug critics to litter my Facebook feed with.