Yes, I’m American, and I’m darned proud of it

I won’t apologize to anyone for being American.

It seems with technology and poor education in civics classes, our younger Americans are being fed a lot of bad information designed to guilt them into feeling bad about our history.

We try to guilt ourselves about slavery, even though we started the road to abolishing it right in line with most every other nation. While the United States banned the slave trade in 1808, Sweden didn’t ban it until 1814, and France banned the trade in 1817. Britain didn’t start to phase out slavery in its colonies around the world until 1833.

While the United States fought a Civil War from 1861 to 1865 that ended slavery, Brazil was still receiving slaves from Africa.

Mauritania, a country in northwest Africa, was the last to outlaw the practice in 1981 even though it is still practiced there today.

Human history should be ashamed of the practice, but trying to define the United States by it is ridiculous to anyone who has ever opened a history book.

Women around the world also started to receive the right to vote with many modernized nations beginning in 1917 until the 1950s. With the United States guaranteeing all women the right to vote in 1920, we were closer to the beginning than the end, and we should take pride in the effort to do so rather than those new to the study of history “discovering” that women at one time couldn’t vote in America. They couldn’t vote virtually anywhere, and trying to shame America for a natural evolution in society is another attempt to ridicule rather than honor America for extending rights.

Let’s also remember what allowed us to be able to be so wrong about history — the right to be an idiot.

America does not outlaw stupidity or ignorance, and we are seeing a lot of it across college campuses and elsewhere today.

But it is not a requirement to be informed in this nation, nor is it a crime to provide the very worst version of news like we see nightly on all the major networks.

We are the only nation to enshrine freedom of speech as not being able to be regulated by government.

That is no small statement. As a matter of fact, it might be the most important freedom next to the government’s inability to regulate religion.

It’s a double edged sword. 

Fun, clean, popular speech needs no protections, but offensive, hateful, controversial speech does.

The freedom of speech allows everyone the right to say their piece without fear of imprisonment or physical attack. 

I would proudly defend speech I do not like to guarantee the right to have the open exchange of any and all ideas.

If we silence one, we can silence all. That’s why the founders made sure free speech was untouchable.

And I’m proud of our founders who were the wisest among an era of Enlightenment, and I make no excuses for them.

While they may have had the contemporary views of women and slavery common in their time, they laid a foundation that led to expanded freedoms for slaves and women alike by making historic, bold declarations including that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.

We said that. Our founders said that in a world dominated by royalty and caste. No one had the courage on the planet to break down the boundaries between the haves and the have nots, between the concept of the royal court and the local tavern.

These men did. They dared to say that the only limitations on a person are those they place on themselves. They knew the truth in their words because they sailed across an ocean and created a new nation that did not rely on the wigged heads of Europe.

All areas of the unsettled world were filling in, and that included the vast plains of America.

According to the Museum of the American revolution, about 250,000 Native Americans lived East of the Mississippi River. It is easy to surmise another 250,000 lived on the West side of the Mississippi. 

Many tribes sided with the British during the American Revolution, a decision that did not come without consequence.

Wars are ugly, and the battles between pioneers and Native Americans were not pretty. 

Similar battles happened between the Spaniards and Natives in Central and South America.

Prior to that, Native Americans warred with each other over the herding territories of the plains, much like Europeans warred with each other for centuries, from the battles of Sparta and Troy and beyond.

The Americans won the West, and I don’t apologize for it any more than asking Africa to apologize for selling slaves or Europeans for settling into nations, or China for consolidating its territory. All are ugly and bloody, but we act as if the United States was the only nation on the planet to expand during a global period of colonial expansion.

Muslims expanded to Israel, and we are now to believe they are the rightful owners.

Like America, whoever holds the deed rules the land.

And I make no apologies for what is.

I also do not apologize for the great opportunities afforded by that history, and how it has expanded and grown over time.

Adding freedoms does  not diminish history any more than the steps at the top of a staircase are superior to those as the bottom.

We continue to rise as one people despite the efforts to shame our history. I’m proud of where we are because I know where we’ve been.

Editor |

Earl Watt is the owner and publisher of the Leader & Times in Liberal, Kansas. Watt started his career in journalism in 1991 at the Southwest Daily Times. During his career, the newspaper has won a total of 17 Sweepstakes awards from the Kansas Press Association for editorial content and 18 Sweepstakes awards for advertising. Watt has been recognized with more than 70 first place awards for writing in categories from sports and column to best front pages, best sports pages and best opinion pages. Watt is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and is the descendant of several patriots who fought for America's freedom and independence.

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Dane Hicks

Dude that was one wicked mullet…