Don't Abandon the Great Experiment
Fears of terror, illegal immigration and oil spills should not intimidate Americans into abandoning the principles that made this country unique.
There are plenty of events lately that threaten to scare us off the path of American high-mindedness. The oil spill in the Gulf Coast has been enough for some on the political left to reaffirm their belief that offshore drilling is not a good idea for America. The "May Day Surprise" near-miss in Times Square has been used on the political right to suggest that the Obama administration has failed to keep America safe from terrorist attacks at home. The recent legislative controversies over immigration have led many Americans to wonder if there is a viable way to balance the flow in immigration into the United States without overreaching politically.
We are challenged--as were our forefathers--by the task of promoting the Great Experiment we call the American way of life without caving into our current fears. There will be plenty of suggestions to close loopholes within the current system that, on the surface, will make us safer. However, as President Bush's Patriot Act showed after Sept. 11, any overreach by America--through its legislative leaders or the populist outcry of its citizens--can do more damage than good.
Our nation has always symbolized a force that takes the necessary risks to promote a better way of life, clearly noting that the rewards for social justice, civic liberty and personal prosperity outweigh the harm we may incur in the process. We realized this during each of the horrible wars that we endured to free slaves, reunite Europe and save the world from Nazism. We faced our fears--and horrible violence and rioting--in order to liberate Americans from Jim Crow and save our global neighbors from chemical warfare and ethnic cleansing. It must not be any different today.
Safety that comes from moving away from what threatens us today is the antithesis of safety that rests in the bosom of American values. Today, those values include finding immediate avenues through which the American people can diversify their energy needs, particularly as the benefits of becoming more self-sufficient in this arena have both employment and geopolitical implications. Although the incident off the coast of Louisiana was tragic, we must continue the mission of offshore drilling for the sake of a more secure America, even as we identify the neglect and missteps that led to April's tragedy. We are fortunate to have brave Americans who are willing to pay such a dear price on oil rigs, coal mines and other dangerous work environments to help America prosper. Our only way to honor them is to stay the course.