Burleigh is a beneficiary of American military might, but she doesn’t seem to realize it. She writes, “I wanted [my son] to understand how privileged he was to live in a place where bombs weren’t raining from the sky.” Well, her son is privileged, but not in the way she means.
He’s privileged, as all Americans are, because he was lucky enough to be born in freedom in the United States rather than in bondage in a dictatorial country such as Iran. But the fact that bombs aren’t falling from the sky isn’t a matter of privilege or luck: It’s by design.
That’s what those dozens of military veterans in Narrowsburg -- and millions more across the country -- fought for. We defeated our enemies, including the Nazis in World War II and the evil Soviet empire in the Cold War so her son could live in peace.
But the war goes on against Islamic insurgents.
In his book “While Europe Slept” American expatriate Bruce Bawer writes that he and his homosexual partner fled to the continent in the late 1990s, hoping to escape the evangelism that was making them so uncomfortable in the United States. Instead, they found that liberal Europe was being overwhelmed by conservative Muslim immigrants. Bawer wonders if Western values will survive there.
“It’s as if Europe, after all the horrors it inflicted on itself in the 20th century in the name of God and country and Volk were determined to yank up its roots, pull down the flags and base its sense of identity on safely superficial things,” he writes. But, “a civilization with so prosaic a self-understanding is a house of cards, easily toppled by a foreign people possessed of a fierce, all-subsuming sense of who they are and what they believe.”
For now, Burleigh has “rescued” her child. “Our son is enrolled in a well-rated K-5 public school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side,” she writes. “Not surprisingly, the Pledge of Allegiance is no longer part of his morning routine. Come to think of it, and I could be wrong, I’ve never seen a flag on the premises.”
Too bad she doesn’t know, as Europeans are learning, that self-defeat begins with self-loathing. It’s easy to say “The United States is too strong; what’s happening in Europe couldn’t happen here.” But to make sure it doesn’t, we’ll need to have pride in our country and be willing to fight for it.
Even after her diatribe (but before he returned to Manhattan) Burleigh’s son told her, “But Mommy, I love America! I want to hug America!” Hopefully, someday the mother will be as wise as her kindergartner was.