Comrade Obama and Kafka’s Messengers

From Reuters:

Venezuela’s Chavez says “Comrade” Obama more left-wing [than Castro and Chavez].

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday that he and Cuban ally Fidel Castro risk being more conservative than U.S. President Barack Obama as Washington prepares to take control of General Motors Corp.

During one of Chavez’s customary lectures on the “curse” of capitalism and the bonanzas of socialism, the Venezuelan leader made reference to GM’s bankruptcy filing, which is expected to give the U.S. government a 60 percent stake in the 100-year-old former symbol of American might.

“Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama! Fidel, careful or we are going to end up to his right,” Chavez joked on a live television broadcast.

Full piece here.

Well, it takes one to know one.

Ronald Reagan once said: “America represents something universal in the human spirit… You can go to France to live and not become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany, and you won’t become a German. But anybody from any corner of the world can come to America to live and become an American.”

Reagan understood and valued American exceptionalism. One of the things that made America unique is the possibility of becoming American. You don’t become a Frenchman or a German. In other countries, your nationality is entirely an accident of birth. In America however, you can become an American by pledging allegiance to a shared set of beliefs, to an idea and to an ideal. As Chesterton said, America is the only nation founded upon a creed:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The corollary to Reagan’s observation is that many Americans today no longer embrace our nation’s founding principles. Some are ashamed of American values; a few actually loathe the very idea of American exceptionalism. They are American in the same way that Frenchmen are French and Germans are German; they are Americans solely by accident of birth. If they aspire to become anything, they would become Frenchmen or Germans or citizens of the world, anything but Americans.

As Obama nationalizes the banking and automobile industries and prepares to nationalize healthcare and impose massive energy tax hikes via so-called cap and trade legislation, both Communist oppressors and refugees from Communism see the same thing happening here.

My good friend Luis at Boiling Frogs was born in Cuba. He and his family came to this country fleeing the evils of Communism under Castro. They quickly embraced American values and gave allegiance to the uniquely American ideals espoused in the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. In doing so, they became Americans. Those who have never experienced life without the precious freedoms others died to preserve often take them for granted. My friend Luis and other refugees from Communist countries do not. Their first-hand experience of misery and poverty and hopelessness and despair of life under Socialism, of life without freedom, gives them a much keener sense when our fragile freedoms are threatened.

Like Kafka’s messenger, who tried to deliver a message of great importance that is ignored and sneered at by those it was intended to help, these witnesses see what is happening and are desperately trying to warn us before it is too late. But their message of great importance is ignored and blithely dismissed by accidental Americans and others too distracted by their iPods and Wiis to notice.

Ronald Reagan warned that “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” It remains to be seen whether this generation will be the one that allows the blessings of liberty to be extinguished, perhaps forever.

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