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If no 'shining city,' US isn't outhouse, either

Date published: 4/29/2013

I immensely enjoyed Fred Reed's April 20 tirade, ["Love, sweet love: World has little for the USA." The FLS seems to have found the curmudgeon's curmudgeon, like Howard Zinn or Gore Vidal on steroids. To say he is disappointed with the United States is like saying Godzilla has a problem with Tokyo.

Having fled Sodom and Gomorrah for a place more in keeping with his high standards, Reed made a curious choice in Mexico. This nation was co-founded by the Aztecs, who practiced human sacrifice on an industrial scale, and the Spanish conquistadors, whose evangelical style was to first convert, then kill, then rob. As a nation, Mexico has been in a state of almost continuous, and lately institutionalized, revolution. It's easy to find warts when warts are all you can see.

I too have lived abroad. Most of the people I met liked America and Americans, although they often disagreed with many of our policies (as do I) and were not averse to telling me. The only overt hostility I ever encountered occurred on a train platform in Stuttgart, Germany. I was in uniform, coming home from work. An old woman told me, "Go home!" I noticed she took the train to Pforzheim. The Allied bombing during World War II had devastated that small city, killing many thousands, likely including some she loved. That was a terrible war, but as much as I might wish otherwise (and as Reed might think it "meddling") I can think of no other way we could have stopped Hitler.

The one thing that distinguishes us from the other animals may not be our intelligence, but our disappointment with ourselves. Paul's lament in Romans, "I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate," says it best. America may not be that "shining city on the hill" and will continue to make mistakes; but I think we're trying.

In the end, I kind of like the neighborhood and the neighbors, even if most of them are idiots. And by the way, if Reed is looking for employment, I understand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is looking for a speech writer.

Dennis Carraway