Washington Diary: Land of ideas
By Matt Fei
A BBC article today criticized the vote for "regret" at the founding of America by the Oxford Union. It further elaborated on the founding of America, and its clearly positive impact on world civilization. I got goose bumps.
Washington diary: Land of ideas
By Matt Frei BBC News, Washington
How many ideas has the US allowed to flourish that would otherwise have withered on the vine?I am happy to report to you that the Oxford Union, in its infinite wisdom, has allowed America to continue existing.
The Declaration of Independence was the quintessential treatise of self-determination. If America had never been founded it would have remained unwritten. And who can imagine life without the Dumb Waiter, another Jefferson innovation?
The list goes on and on (and I apologise for any omissions): Thomas Edison, who had 1,093 patents for inventions in his name; Henry Ford; the Wright brothers; Bill Gates; the Boeing corporation; Desperate Housewives; The Sopranos and, of course, SpongeBob SquarePants.
The keys to success
The United States created an environment in which inventive minds had access to easy credit, a willing market and the freedom to dream and create without fear of prosecution or recrimination.
Learning from the Europeans
America did not come from nowhere. It was an offspring of Europe, the step-child of a corrupt, moribund post-feudal system. America encapsulated the principles of the Enlightenment - Liberty, Equality, Fraternity - wrapped them in the pursuit of happiness, underpinned them with an inalienable right and turned an IDEA into a country.
It took the missteps of the French and the English revolutions and it made them work.
The US is a nation built not on ethnicity, not on religion, not even on history but on an idea.
Many Americans see Guantanamo detentions as a big mistake.
Not only does this make America different, I would argue it also makes it ideally suited for the 21st Century. We live in a globalised world in which national boundaries are less and less relevant and the citizenship of ideas is more and more defining.
But after all Fei's glorious praise, here is the kicker:
Al-Qaeda also strives for a world without borders, a trans-national entity based on ideas, which a majority of Muslims find as unpalatable as we do. So, ask yourself and be honest: where would you rather live - the Caliphate or California?
That says it all.
Thanks to Enzo.