Thursday, May 03, 2007

This House regrets the founding of The United States of America?

The Oxford Union recently debated the proposition that "This House regrets the founding of The United States of America". Only in the UK. And then they invited a Communist and two proponents of Sharia Law to make the case for them. I am pleased to announce that the proposition was soundly defeated.

Here is a quote from a BBC story about the event by Matt Frei:

"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.

Yes, there were terrible mistakes - the gross hypocrisy of slavery, segregation and McCarthyism, to name a few. But America found and keeps finding the solutions to its mistakes. It is a giant, rolling social experiment in constant pursuit of self-correction. As Bill Clinton once said: "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America."

In America the idea was ragged, rough and imperfect but it kept growing, it kept evolving and, if this isn't a vote of confidence, it kept attracting people, millions of them - Dutch pilgrims, Russian Jews, persecuted Egyptians, hungry Mexicans, uprooted Kurds, homeless Armenians, unloved and underpaid British film stars, now luxuriating in Hollywood. Ask them if they regret the founding of America!

The US is a nation built not on ethnicity, not on religion, not even on history but on an idea.
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.

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?

We Europeans created America and to regret this is to engage in a colossal act of self-denial verging on self-mutilation. We have a stake in its survival and its success and we ought to nurture it, not bring it to its knees or delight in its misfortunes. We can criticise its leaders without regretting its existence.

The reality of America may be vexing, frustrating, infuriating and puzzling but its promise is no less real and, given the right voice, should be no less inspiring."

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