DANIEL VAUGHAN: America really is ‘the beautiful’

The United States of America truly is the greatest country on Earth — and perhaps at this point, one of the greatest nations to have ever existed.

This kind of historic greatness goes beyond the mere military, economic, or cultural power, of which America has more than any nation on Earth. (And it isn’t particularly close.) The USA’s greatness extends into who we are.

America is unique in that the literal genetic and racial makeup of the country consists of effectively every known race on Earth. We have, for generations, invited everyone under the umbrella of the United States’ protection and encouraged people to thrive. And that has included some of the most discriminated peoples on Earth.

George Washington, writing to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790, said of the people inhabiting America, “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.”

He told the congregation, “May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

Jews have lived as one of the most persecuted groups in human history, and America welcomed them early on. That policy has continued even today, as we’ve welcomed Venezuelans and Cubans who have fled the oppressive governments and policies of their socialist home countries.

America is unique in this regard: Every race, nationality, and subgroup lives in this country. And for the most part — social media arguments ignored — we live in peace. In the Middle East, Jews and Palestinians are at each other’s throats. In the United States, we have each of those same groups in our Congress and advising the highest powers in the country.

When previous great powers in world history tried to have many groups of people living together, they did so through sheer force. The Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and colonizing European powers all relied heavily on brute military force to subjugate local peoples. If any group sought grievances, they were put down.

America did this to expand westward into the lands where Native Americans lived. And for that, we’ve sought to correct our misdeeds over time. But unlike those past great powers, we mostly haven’t expanded beyond our continental borders. And instead of seeking out groups to subjugate to our power and dominion, they’ve come by every mode of travel imaginable to live on our shores.

The great stain on America is the sin of racism and slavery. For that sin, we fought one of the bloodiest civil wars of all time. The combined deaths in the Union and Confederate armies make the U.S. Civil War the costliest war in American history, including both World Wars and Vietnam. The price to ending slavery and the slave trade in America was high, and the following century of working beyond the horrors of Jim Crow was just as bad.

What is said today is that the American system, because it allowed this sin to fester and grow, is fundamentally flawed and should be torn asunder. There are forces, on the left and the right, who see this as the moment in history when the American experiment should be destroyed and something else should replace it.

It’s always funny to read that complaint from people who apply that criticism to America, but rarely their own beliefs or past. What they fail to see is that the American system is the thing that ended slavery. We passed amendments, we passed laws, and we worked on changing our hearts on issues. And in the process, we continued bringing in every immigrant that’s ever existed on Earth into the fold.

No other nation, in whatever system they choose to use to organize their governments and politics, can boast of the depth and breadth of the nationalities that make up “Americans.” Every race on Earth can come to America and become a part of the American dream.

Some of the richest Americans are immigrants. Elon Musk was born in South Africa. Jeff Bezos’ father immigrated here from Cuba. The dream is still alive, and America is still changing.

The United States went from a history of slavery and racism to being a place where 1 in 10 marriages is interracial, and that figure is growing. If you can’t see the world is getting remarkably better, you may suffer from what the comedian Bill Maher called “progressophobia” in a recent monologue.

Maher said progressophobia is “a brain disorder that strikes liberals and makes them incapable of recognizing progress. It’s like situational blindness, only what you can’t see is that your dorm in 2021 is better than the South before the Civil War.”

The United States is not progressive, but it does make progress. And we’re the only country of our kind like that on Earth. All the European countries that can barely function together in the European Union live together here in America. Every nationality from every continent is represented here.

And that is just one reason, among many, that America remains the greatest country on Earth.