Byline: Suzanne Fields, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Education, my father the grateful immigrant would say, was the glorious prize for growing up in America. He quit school in the eighth grade and always regretted it. He believed education was the passport to understanding the values of this country.
He attended elementary school when patriotism was part of the curriculum. He reluctantly dropped out when he was 14, but he got an appreciation for "liberty and justice for all." He thought that the more education people got, the more they would appreciate those ideals. Would he be surprised today.
When he retired, he read American history and biographies of the presidents. He was a patriot in the old sense of that word, someone who looked at our past and treasured what the Founding Fathers set out to do. He knew the country wasn't perfect, but he didn't see any other country in the world in our league for trying to live up to our ideals.
Fifty years ago, there was nothing unusual about such perceptions. Immigrants and first-generation Americans were nearly always grateful to the point of tears for their incredible good luck of getting to live in the greatest country in the world. They weren't ostriches, but they could appreciate the good while trying to fix the not so good. This was the sentiment revived by September 11, when many of the most liberal critics joined in fighting a common enemy. But now, some of them are up to their old prejudices.
Gloria Steinem, actors Ossie Davis and Ed Asner, playwrights Eve Ensler ("The Vagina Monologues"), Tony Kushner ("Angels in America") and Noam Chomsky, the MIT professor who is always first in line to find fault with America, have signed a letter in the name of "people of conscience," urging "all Americans to resist the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration. It is unjust, immoral and illegitimate."
One of my correspondents insists these "people of conscience" are "not the bricklayers, roofers, plumbers, firefighters, police officers, carpenters, airline attendants or construction workers . . . who are firmly rooted in reality." But they may be speaking for lots of college students. In a poll of 634 college students, conducted by Frank Luntz for a new organization called Americans for Victory Over Terrorism, only 3 percent "strongly agree" that Western culture is superior to the culture of the Arab world. …