Pride in America

Letter to the Editor, 7-6-2012 – published under the title “Proud not to be an American”.  This was not my choice of title, (I would have put “not” before “proud”) but it sure got people’s attention as you can see from the correspondence that follows.

I have lived in the United States since 1984, but I am still a British subject, a fact which shocks many Americans who are convinced that the entire world wants to be American.  This is not so.  I have not taken out citizenship because, quite frankly, I do not want to be known as an American.  I do not want to be a citizen of a country which is defined by greed and animosity. I do to want to be part of a system that allows 6 people (the heirs of Sam Walton) to control as much (unearned) wealth as the bottom 30% of the population.

The vast majority of Americans go along with the idea that the United States is the greatest country that has ever been.  Please define greatness.  To my mind, a great country is one where the people can live their lives free from bigotry and oppression; where they can earn a decent living doing the work they are most suited to; where they contribute as much as they can to the good of the country; and where they have the expectation that if things go very wrong for them, there is a safety net to help them recover.  A country like New Zealand, or Denmark, where there is 100% literacy and virtually no poverty.

A great country does not have 15% of its population living in poverty and therefore hungry; a great country does not squander and destroy its natural resources in pursuit of profit; a great country does not assume that its ways are the best for everyone else as well; a great country does not throw its weight around just because it can; a great country does not destroy smaller nations in pursuit of an ideology. And socialism is not the end of life as we know it.  Current policies may be.

A great country does not allow slander, mudslinging and venomous attacks against someone whose only fault is that they belong to a different political party.  My political philosophy is definitely left of center, but I simply cannot espouse blind devotion to a party on the strength of name alone.  I cannot support anyone for whom being elected and staying in power is more important than representing constituents.  I cannot support anyone who sees elected office as a lucrative career rather than service to country.

On election day in November, I beg citizens and voters of the Southern Tier to look carefully at the candidates that affect us most – Tom Reed or Nate Shinagawa, President Obama or Mitt Romney.  Don’t be swayed by publicity.  Do some research and think for yourself.

Ask yourself two simple questions:  Is he for us or for himself; if he is elected who stands to benefit most – him, or me.

(And I am happy to engage in further conversation along these lines: please contact me at elizabeth@minisula.com)

Elizabeth Whitehouse

Corning, 936-4732

First response:

May want a name change…..

This is in response to Elizabeth Whitehouse who is proud not to be an American.

I suggest she review the Revolutionary war and its reasons which were the basis for the new America, aka “The United States of America”.  I think she will find that the root cause was the tyranny and greed that her beloved English forced on the colonists (some of which were their people).

I have visited England many times and always enjoyed it as well as the many people I encountered, none of which exhibited the feelings she seems to have.  I have seen poverty there and heard much grumbling about the cost of living and the high taxes collected so I don’t know how much it really differs.

It would be interesting to know why she came here in the first place and better yet why she stayed so long in a country she feels so much animosity towards and is so unhappy with.  I bet she enjoys the benefits she derives from our country.  She apparently doesn’t like the Waltons due to their wealth which they earned because they can in a country that allows free enterprise.  I am sure they pay and contribute to this country in taxes and payroll.  I wonder how she feels about the royal family and how they stack up against the bottom 30% of their population.

In closing I would like to remind her that she can publish her dismay with our country because of the freedom that was paid for with many American lives to give her that right.

I would also suggest that unless she is chained here that she packs up and hits the road to some other country she feels so much better about. Be careful though it might be a country that our soldiers fought for to gain their freedom or it might be one we support with many U.S. Dollars.

If she stays she might want to change her last name to something other than “Whitehouse”.  Might I suggest “Windsor” or “Buckingham”?

My reply:

Negative intent can sometimes be positive

July 15, 2012

Response to Gerald Schichtel

Thank you so much, Mr Schichtel, for writing to The Leader in response to my letter.  I couldn’t have asked for stronger reinforcement of my point, namely that far too few Americans will look objectively at the US in 2012, acknowledge that there are problems and work constructively towards a solution that benefits the majority of the population.  That is what a great country would do.

I realize that you did not intend to be supportive of my arguments, but you were in several ways.

Yes, the Revolutionary War was a reaction to British tyranny and greed.  Why then is there not a revolution today against the tyranny (plutocracy) and greed of the 21st century?  The Occupy movement is trying, but faces overwhelming complacency.

How Sam Walton made his fortune and the labor practices employed by Walmart today must wait for another occasion.  However, I chose to single out the Walton heirs because of they are the epitome of greed.  They did not create this wealth; they inherited it.   They do have a Foundation which supports  educational causes, to the tune of about .0003% of their total wealth.  They do pay taxes, but very reluctantly, spending millions to lobby for tax breaks for the wealthy.  They are worth nearly $70 billion, but they want more.

Yes, the United States has freedom of speech, but so do many other countries.  It is after all one of the tenets of the United Nations Charter, and if this right was won by blood, it was not exclusively American blood.

US soldiers fighting for the “freedom” of other countries is also a subject for another day. In terms of the current argument, which is actually about the up-coming election, other countries are irrelevant, history is irrelevant.  What matters is how we (that is all of us who live here) are going to resolve the issues that are polarizing the country.  What matters is how we look at here and now, rather than there and then.

Why did I came here, and why do I stay?  Because my name is Whitehouse.  In 1983 The Corning  Museum of Glass was looking for a new Curator.  They decided that David Whitehouse, my husband of 37 years, was the very best available and invited him to take the job. He did.  Besides me and our three children he brought immense knowledge, integrity and a great work ethic.  As long as he is able to contribute to the continued success of CMoG, I will stay here by his side.

And I will continue to criticize where I think criticism is due.

Why are you still living here?

I’ll give Pamela Doud Rogowicz of Campbell the benefit of the doubt and assume that she wrote the following letter before my second letter, which answers her question, was published.

Shame on the British letter writer of July 7 who claims she is NOT proud to be an American (I repeat that this was not my idea; it came from The Leader.  However, I cannot be proud to be an American as I am not one.  What The Leader actually said was “Proud not to be an American”, a subtle difference apparently only obvious to speakers of the antiquated and confusing language of the British Isles)

My question to her is, why are you still living here? Her timing was interesting as it came out around one of our most precious holidays, Independence Day! How “unpatriotic” of her.

Our great country was founded  on the basic principals of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  America may not be perfect, but we live in freedom thanks to our forefathers and the protection of our military servicemen and women from the Revolutionary War to present. Sure, it wold (sic) be great to eradicate bigotry, poverty, illiteracy, etc in any country.  But humanity and free will makes the perfect world impossible.  This great country was built on immigrants who came here legally and had a dream for themselves and their children.  They were proud to be called an American and to speak the language.  Even today, we have illegal immigration pouring over our borders to chase the American dream and get a better life.  With hard work, determination and some ingenuity, most Americans have the chance to pursue happiness, and yes, wealth!

I suggest Mrs Whitehouse think twice about spouting her left-wing liberal views.

They are damaging and twisted.  And her obvious view on socialism is against all that this “Land of Opportunity” represents. We do not want Big Government.  We the people do not want government telling us we cannot do it alone.  But she is right about one thing.  Citizens need to think for themselves and do some research about this upcoming presidency and decide do we want another four years of a narcissist in chief continue to destroy our great country (sic), or do we need to elect someone that knows how to get our economy back on track and who loves this country.

I am proud to be an American!

I am glad that Ms Rogowicz agrees that Americans should think for themselves and do some research.  I am also interested to know where she “researched” the idea that our present President is a narcissist who does not love the country.  I would like to speak further with her to clarify in what way he is destroying the country, and in how his opponent will get the economy back on track.  I’m not saying any of this is untrue; I just want to know where the ideas came from.

I hope that Ms Rogowicz will join other residents of the Corning area to discuss the specific problems facing this region, and what we can do about them.  (They never did)

Another negative comment:

At least one American is proud to be so:

Dear Mrs Whitehouse,

Thank you for pointing out to us the many deficiencies of our democratic society.  Having told us what a “great country” does not do, have, or allow, you then tell us what you “cannot support” in our electoral process.

Fortunately for you, Mrs Whitehouse, you will not be required to address any of these issues since you are adamantly “not an American” and therefore cannot vote.  As an alternative to voting Nov. 6, perhaps a trip back to England to clebrate Guy Fawkes night Nov. 5 would be a good choice.

I believe he was also anti-government,

(signed)

A Proud American,

Joyce Merletti
Corning

This letter appeared above my second letter explaining that I am not English.  I might also comment here that I have never voted.  Not once, not anywhere.

By chance I was out of South Africa for the two elections I was old enough to vote in and the Nationalist Party could have been the model for states like Florida which are so creative in limiting the number of people who can vote: South Africa did not allow absentee votes, knowing full well that anyone who had dared to travel abroad would vote against them and their policy of apartheid.

During the years we lived in Italy, neither my English husband nor I could vote – not for Italy because we were not Italian and not for the UK because we did not have a residence in that country.  For the same reasons we could not even vote for the European Parliament.

And you know about my position here.

Actually one vote every four years is not that significant. You can tell that because so few Americans even bother to vote.

Positive comments:

* You spoke for many like-minded, frustrated born and bred Americans.
You laid it out, chapter and verse, and ON FOURTH OF JULY week!  From
childhood Americans have been taught that we are the greatest, best,
most charitable, bravest nation on earth and that those who don’t
agree with that view might as well “love it or leave it”.  That’s
dangerous propaganda and, among other things, results in young men and
women dying in foreign countries to ‘protect our liberty and  the
American way of life.’

Just before the 4th , the Leader printed the entire Declaration of
Independence.  I read it all for the first time in many years and was
inspired, but cynical in a way, wondering what the real motives were
behind that brave document. A group of powerful men who wanted
independence to pursue their economic interests or were their actions
a pure exercise in altruism to benefit the common man..  I suspect it
was the former.

One of the characteristics attributed to Americans is that we are an
optimistic people.  As a nation we are going through a really rotten
time but there are signs of hope that attitudes are changing about our
position in the world.  Through the miracle of the internet,a  new
generation of young people is seeing and getting to know their
contemporaries on the rest of the planet. (And vice versa).  It’ll be
much more difficult to convince other people of our ‘wonderfulness’
when they can YouTube the latest discouraging word from America.

I agreed with the thoughts expressed in your letter and thank you
for writing it.

*Hello, I saw your Letter to the Editor in the Corning Leader on July 6th and I applaud you for spelling out what other foreign-born individuals like me …and some open-minded Americans like my husband, Jeff Prescott… think. We really enjoyed reading your article. Thank you so much.

*

Dear Mrs Whitehouse

I admire your courage in speaking out to The Leader and hope you do not take too much grief over it.  For what it’s worth, I am a US citizen and a retired Air Force Colonel.  Sadly, the country I served for 22 years no longer exists for the reasons you so eloquently stated.

*

Hi, Elizabeth- As an 82 year old who has been traveling 6 continents since age 22, both as a 20 year member of the USAF and subsequent independent explorer of the world, I have had the opportunity to compare various aspects of the USA with those of many other countries. With regard to your recent letter (yes, THAT letter), I can say that you hit the nail squarely on the head. The USA has many virtues, but it also has some areas that need improvement, a fact which many of us are reluctant to admit, and indeed render us hostile if anyone, especially a foreigner, should dare to mention them. You have, in my opinion, done us a fine service, and I’m reminded of those 2 lines by Robert Burns: ” O would some power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us”. Thanks, and why not send that letter to the USA TODAY.

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