It has become obvious to me that the people of our world just don’t understand us Amerikans. As Hillary Clinton said several months ago, what makes us exceptional is our kindness as a people.
There are many examples of this kindness. Back in 1945, toward the end of WW2, in order to save lives, President Truman decided to drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Although hundreds of thousands of Japanese were killed, it quickly brought the war to an end. Of course, the US never realized that Japan had signaled its willingness to surrender prior to the bombings. But that’s the fog of war.
The desire for world peace has motivated the US to intervene in governments throughout the world who do not offer their people democracy and freedom. Reluctantly, the US has been at war almost continuously during the 20th and 21st centuries fighting, killing and dying for peace, freedom, and democracy. What other country has been willing to assume that responsibility? Over 50,000 US military personnel and millions of Vietnamese and Koreans died to save those countries from Communism. There is no sacrifice too great for the US military to ensure freedom and peace throughout the world.
Most recently, the US, after the attack of 9/11, declared war on terror. The war on terror will be difficult to win but as a kind and loving people, we will never surrender to the terrorists. That is why we were forced by circumstance to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, bomb Libya and Syria, and offer military weapons to Saudi Arabia to use in Yemen and Israel to use in Gaza. Hundreds of thousands died and/or were displaced, rendered homeless, but the US is and will continue to be relentless in “our” desire to protect these people from the terrorists or Communists.
Our humanitarian instincts led us to confront Syrian President Bashar al Assad in August, 2013, when the village of Ghouta was struck with rockets containing sarin gas. Several hundred people died a terrible death, many of them children.
Our humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winning President Obama was very angry . . . Assad had crossed Obama’s line in the sand. Obama was ready to send US troops into Syria in defense of the Syrian people. But Assad agreed to destroy his stockpile of bio-chemical weapons and the US withdrew the threat of invading Syria.
Unfortunately, the issue of use of chemical weapons in Syria raised its ugly head again in Idlib Province, Syria in April 2017. Dozens of people, including children, died—some writhing, choking, gasping or foaming at the mouth—after breathing in poison that possibly contained a nerve agent or other banned chemicals, according to witnesses, doctors and rescue workers. They said the toxic substance spread after warplanes dropped bombs in the early morning hours.
The US immediately concluded, once again, that Syrian President Assad was responsible. It should be noted that at no time was there evidence that President Assad and his army were responsible for the use of toxic gas on the Syrian people. But it’s the response of the US in both events that’s crucial here. The intolerance, in the US, for the use of weapons that make death painful.
The US has been at war for most of the 20th and 21st centuries and has chosen to fight its battles by relying on the more humanitarian weapons such as bombs and missiles. These weapons do not allow for slow, painful deaths, they blow apart the bodies of the victims allowing them to die quickly without suffering. Killing of people is acceptable to the US when it is implemented with kindness.
The use of Agent Orange, depleted uranium, and white phosphorus have occasionally found their way to the US battlefield. But these were aberrations. This is not who we are. It is not in our DNA to be cruel.
Domestically, the US has a long history of humanitarian intervention that has been consistent with its foreign policies.
In the summer of 1942, the SS Drottningholm set sail carrying hundreds of desperate Jewish refugees, en route to New York City from Sweden, hoping for asylum from the Nazis in the US. They were turned away because the US officials concluded that these refugees constituted a threat to US national security.
As Daniel Gross, of the Smithsonian, points out, World War II prompted the largest displacement of human beings the world has ever seen—although today’s refugee crisis is starting to approach its unprecedented scale. But even with millions of European Jews displaced from their homes, the United States had a poor track record offering asylum. Most notoriously, in June 1939, the German ocean liner St. Louis and its 937 passengers, almost all Jewish, were turned away from the port of Miami, forcing the ship to return to Europe; more than a quarter died in the Holocaust.
The decision to reject these refugees fleeing from the death camps that awaited them in Europe was not an easy one. But, to take in all those Jews at once was not particularly politically wise for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Jews in the US were not yet popular.
Immigration restrictions actually tightened here, in the country of immigrants, as the refugee crisis worsened. At a press conference, President Roosevelt repeated the unproven claims from his advisers that some Jewish refugees had been coerced to spy for the Nazis.
This was also the time that the US established the “humanitarian” internment camps for American citizens with Japanese heritage. After all, the “sneak” attack on Pearl Harbor justified the conclusion that the Japanese could not be trusted.
Although we were also at war in Europe, there was no need to establish internment camps for German or Italian US citizens. They were true Americans, who looked like Americans, spoke like Americans, and had American values and way of life.
Not much has changed since then. The US continues to intervene with humanitarian goals domestically as well as abroad. Jewish people and Israel are currently in favor with the US establishment.
However, it is the Muslim community that has presented problems for the US. Muslims have been known to commit acts of terror that have resulted in the loss of many lives. They are not like the white, Christian men who are responsible for over 99% of the mass murders here in the US. While Muslims are terrorists, and verify the violent nature of the entire Muslim community, these white men are usually mentally ill, misguided human beings who do not reflect the humanitarian instincts of the white community at all. They are an aberration.
One can then understand why President Trump wishes to ban the entry of all Muslims into this country. Hopefully, like the Jewish people, one can only hope that there will be a day in the future when they will act white and be welcome to this country where they would be able to enjoy freedom and democracy like the rest of us.
GOD BLESS AMERIKA!!
Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology. He spent his career working with troubled inner city adolescents.