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America the Amazing

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
George Mullen

The United States, with all of its faults and challenges, is still the greatest nation on Earth. 

When people generally on the Left attack America with a laundry list of faults—racism, sexism, ableism, etc.--I always wonder to myself what countries are better? Can AOC or the leaders of BLM or students on campus list say five other countries that are somehow better than the United States and explain why? Do they go for the Scandinavian countries which are generally monolithic in their citizenry and whose more socialistic economies have nothing over the American entrepreneurial spirit and small business engine? Would they go for Africa where poverty is rampant? Maybe China? Recent stories and supporting video evidence of lockdowns, Covid prisons, protests over free speech, and of course, the Uighur concentration camps would seem to make that a poor choice. 


America is not perfect as no country is. Did America have a racist past? The history of slavery and post-slavery bigotry is documented. Are there racists in America? Yes. But is America today a racist country? I don’t think so. A country that twice elected a Black president and honors and loves Black actors, musicians, and athletes is not at its root racist. Go into almost any store in America and you will see a wonderful amalgam of Americans of all backgrounds as customers and staff, all getting along and all doing business together. America may not be perfect but she is amazing. America is huge, especially compared to my home for the past 30 years, Israel. Last year, we were driving from Utah back to Las Vegas after some snowmobiling. We got onto I-15 and Waze mater-of-factly stated, “Drive 613 kilometers and turn right onto 95 North”. I took a picture of my phone screen. We all laughed as driving that distance in Israel would get you north of Beirut or somewhere deep into Syria. But America is not only large, it is beautiful. We have gone to state and national parks and visited both coasts as well as many lakes—Tahoe, Havasu, Powell, Mead, and more—and sites like the Grand Canyon. We are always left in awe of the beauty of these places, and more than once I had to read the Riot Act to get my family back in the car to go back to my dad’s place in Las Vegas.  

Beyond the size and beauty, America is an economic powerhouse and wonderland. If you want to see the UN in miniature, go to a Nike or Adidas store at a discount mall. You can hear many languages as folks from all over the world try on shoes that cost a fortune back home. Our son bought a pair of running shoes for $35 last month. The same shoes back in Israel cost more than 800 shekels, which comes to well over $200. Local Israeli companies have been hard-hit by people buying clothes, electronics, and home goods from their visits to the States and more recently by Amazon offering free shipping on a wide range of products. I know of nobody who goes to Europe to make shopping. On the other hand, when we go to the States, we come with relatively empty suitcases and come back with each one exactly at 50 pounds, the maximum for free travel back to Israel. The prices of electronics and clothes are generally 30% lower in the US than here in Israel. When I first came here in 1992, there were many things not available. Now you can buy pretty much anything—at a premium. An iPhone 14 will cost nearly $1500 or more and a Tommy Hilfiger dress shirt will be well over $100.  


One thing that one sees and feels when visiting the States is the American spirit. Las Vegas is a growing city and the latest neighborhoods are going up at the base of Mount Charleston. When I had a fixed GPS device, it quickly got lost as new expressways were still shown as grassy fields on a device that was only a year or two old. Watching Elon Musk’s and Jeff Bezos’ rockets return right-side-up is still a wonder, especially for one used to the rockets simply falling back to the ocean during the Apollo days. Last month I took my first ride in a Tesla. I realized that the car was made starting with a blank piece of paper. Many of the “old” features that had been in cars for decades had vanished, and everything that would be useful such as the cameras for turning and the big screen with all of the immediate traffic information presented added. I think that “global warming” is a big bluff, so I am not interested in an electric car for some suspect environmental benefit, but if we did not have street-only parking here, I would seriously consider a Tesla. Think about it—an immigrant from South Africa shows up with no experience in the auto industry and in true American fashion creates an amazing series of cars—independent of all of his other business ventures running in parallel.  

I have in my wallet a card “America The Beautiful”. During a visit to Lake Mead, I asked the park ranger if there was any discount for Nevada residents. He said no but there were discounts for military personnel and the disabled. I have a disability card from Israel from the bombing in which our son and I were injured. I showed him the Israeli card and explained what it was. He told me to wait a minute and then presented me with this card that gives free entry to all national parks in the US, Samoa, and Guam. I could not have asked for a finer present. 


The greatest freedom in the US is the freedom of speech, something that has been drastically curtailed for those of a conservative bent by both social media companies and their partners in the US government. Still, people enjoy the right to criticize the US, its government, and its official policies. Remember that only a few weeks ago, Chinese protesters held up blank A4 pages as they are not allowed to express themselves against Beijing without risking arrest. In the US, one can still criticize the US, and that is a good thing, But I suggest to all of those who don’t like their country or find it to be racist or unfair that they consider spending time somewhere else. If they choose an advanced country like those in Europe, they will find that life is much more expensive and that the housing arrangements much smaller. If they think that their perfect country is more second or third-world, they might be disappointed when they do not have 24 hours of electricity each day or they find that the Internet is really slow. All countries have something to offer, but from my experience, living outside of the US makes one appreciate how amazing the country, its people, and all that it has to offer truly are. 

There is a story that President Johnson told that every time he came down the stairs of Air Force One in a foreign country, he felt that at least one person in the reception line would have switched with him in a heartbeat to be an American. America is not perfect, but it strives to be better. America is not the largest country in the world, but together with its people, it is the most extraordinary. 


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