A Stones Throw 7-3-14

17

I have often wondered why the United States is hated by so many of the world’s countries.

With tomorrow being July 4th, I thought I would reflect on what is the United States of America and what is the rest of the world.

In so doing, I think I have the answer to why we as a nation are considered the most hated country in the world.

It is simply because of who and what we are.

We are a country that allows freedom of speech. We do not imprison those who speak out against the government. We do not imprison those who speak out against our religious and political leaders.

We do not have jails full of dissidents whose only crime was in the words they spoke or the words they wrote.

Does this mean our freedom of speech is unlimited?

No!

Many years ago a Supreme Court ruling limited free speech when it ruled “you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater.” Our freedom to speak cannot cause physical harm to another.

Thus, making statements that can incite panic or a riot may not be allowed. Making untrue statements that defame and damage an innocent person may not be allowed. And, yes, discussing plans to hire someone to kill or injure another person is not allowed.

Some would advocate that with these, and other, restrictions we do not truly have freedom of speech.

To those who make these claims, I would suggest they move to one of dozens of countries who hate the United States. I am sure in most of those countries freedom of speech is much greater than ours.

In fact, I think a visit to the tens of thousands of political and social prisoners in those countries would demonstrate the weakness of our freedom of speech – and the strength of theirs.

Still, speech is not the only freedom we enjoy. Perhaps not even the most important.

In the United States we share the principle of freedom of religion. As a country we respect most religions and tolerate most others. As an American citizen I can choose my religion or I can choose no religion.

I can honor one God – or many.

I can reject the idea of God.

I have that freedom.

Some of the countries that hate us the most also have the least tolerance for religious freedom. For instance, recently in Sudan, a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity was sentenced to death unless she reverted back to the Muslim religion.

The highest court in Sudan overturned the death sentence and had the woman released from prison. Government officials did not agree with the high court.

Yes, the woman was released – but almost immediately was rearrested – this time for trying to leave the country with her Christian husband. The demand for her death has been renewed. Even her father and brother demand she die if she does not repent.

While not strictly a religious freedom, the simple fact of marriage is not so simple in many countries that hate us.

As an American I can marry a white woman, a black woman, or a woman of any other race. As an American I can marry a Catholic, a Baptist, a Jew, an atheist, a Muslim, or a person of any other religion.

In today’s world, in many states I can even marry another man.

While inter-racial marriage has not always been allowed, such marriages today garner little notice. The same will be true of same-sex marriage as it sinks below the current level of publicity.

Even in this country, some people shun those who choose “unacceptable” partners.

In other countries an “unacceptable” partner can mean death.

Just last week, in Pakistan, a 28 year-old man and his 18 year-old wife went to visit her parents – or as reports indicate “were lured to a meeting with her parents.” Once there, the parents decapitated both the man and their daughter.

They called it an “Honor Killing.” They didn’t agree with their daughter’s choice of husband. He was of the wrong religion.

Unfortunately “Honor Killing” is not rare in Pakistan. Last year alone there were 869 reported and admitted “Honor Killings.”

And Pakistan is not alone. In countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, etc. women are stoned to death for committing adultery – even if that adultery is a rape. Women are killed because they become pregnant – and the father is not “approved.” Women are stoned to death because they are women.

Whether this is due to an intolerance of religious differences or the fact that in many countries a woman has no value makes little difference. What is important is to realize that in America even where there is intolerance, there is seldom violence.

Yes, I know we can look back into our history and see many instances where intolerance of minorities resulted in significant violence. I know in the past our Government mistreated Native Americans in the worst possible way.

I know those who want to point out that America has had, and still has, a lot of warts have no problem in finding and exposing those warts.

In fact, once again I think those who want to dwell on the negatives of the United States need to move to a more friendly country like North Korea, Sudan, or Iraq. I am sure the political and social conditions are much better than we have.

Just ask all their political and social prisoners.

With these thoughts, I wondered why America would be so hated. I realize we have a different set of political and social values, but we are usually the first country to come with billions of dollars of aid when a disaster hits. We are usually the first country to offer aid to those countries that need it the most. We donate billions of dollars to foreign countries every year.

Why are we so hated?

Is it because we have political and social freedoms that those who hate us do not?

Until today, I thought that was the problem.

Then I started thinking about the “Occupy” movement in the United States where the 99-percent occupied large areas of several cities demanding that the top one-percent wealthiest Americans pay more taxes and give more to the 99-percent.

Occupy activists didn’t care that the top one-percent has donated billions of dollars to build hospitals and schools. That the top one-percent has donated billions to charities all over the world. Or, that the top one-percent paid 68-percent of all Federal taxes paid in 2012.

Occupy activist didn’t care.

They didn’t look at the nearly 50-percent of their 99-percent who did not pay any Federal taxes in 2012. They didn’t look at the fact that many of their group do not choose to work and instead choose to have the government support them.

They didn’t care that the taxes paid by the top one-percent generated the government benefits many of them were using.

They just didn’t care.

In their eyes the top one-percent were criminal. They were the monster that had to be brought to their knees.

Just like America in the eyes of those who choose to ignore all that America does for every country that is in need – even for those who hate us.

In other words – jealousy.

America does have strong friends – Canada being one of the best. What seems interesting is that most of our strong friends have the same freedoms and values that we do. That is not to say they always agree with us or think like us, but they support us.

They are not jealous of us.

Jealousy can be a bitter pill. It can cause breakups in relationships. It can end friendships. It can move love to hate.

It can be the reason the 99-percent hate the one-percent.

And jealousy can be the reason the United States of America is the most hated country in the world.

After all, to the rest of the world, we are the one-percent – and proud of it.

– Mike Cooney