The above heading was actually the title of a book written in the 1990s by black conservative Ken Hamblin. He grew up in the most impoverished area of Brooklyn, briefly embraced the Black Panthers, then concluded that the USA, for all its flaws, offers more opportunity than any other nation on earth. Not just to black people or gay people or Jewish people. To all people!
On the other side of the racial divide stands a black man who is even more successful and who also flirted with radicalism. Samuel L. Jackson, the millionaire actor who pockets additional millions by telling us to use the right credit card, apparently sees America as a pretty awful place. Mr. Jackson recently created a brief video in which he sings about "the violence of the racist police," before adding this: "We ain't gonna stop till people are free."
Free? Mr. Jackson makes it sound like we are still in the era depicted in his "Django Unchained." And he is not alone. For many on the far left, black and white alike, it is forever 1965 in America and we are always in Selma, Alabama. It doesn't matter how much progress is made, how many great success stories are shaped by grit and intelligence. The only thing that matters is grievance. The more, the better.
Samuel L. Jackson actually seems to seek out racial animus, even when there is none to be found. Earlier this year, when a befuddled TV anchor momentarily confused him with Laurence Fishburne, Jackson was positively gleeful: "We may be all black and famous," he scolded the reporter, "but we all don't look alike. You're busted!" Samuel L. Jackson, self-proclaimed champion of the underdog, kept twisting the knife like some sadistic character in a Tarantino movie.
It's certainly true that black Americans have a tougher row to hoe than most of us. So do Mexicans, Muslims, Filipinos, and just about every other identifiable minority. They are often pre-judged by people – not on the content of their character, but on the color of their skin or the shape of their garments. That is not the fault of the nation as a whole; it is a failing of ignorant individuals. And those being misjudged have a choice: Try to overlook the slights, or declare yourself a victim. For far too many, the latter is the preferred choice.
There is a simple message that bears repeating, even if it does little to change the sclerotic thinking of the perpetually angry. Success in America is achievable to anyone who adheres to a few basic rules: Finish high school, don't have babies until you're married, avoid drugs, don't break the law, present yourself respectfully. While those guidelines are blindingly obvious to most of us, they are unquestionably tougher for kids growing up in chaotic, fatherless homes.
It would also help if celebrities like Samuel L. Jackson weren't so intent on diminishing America, so determined to tell young kids that the world is out to get them. This may not be the land of perfectly equal and evenly distributed opportunity. But the fact is, there has never been time or a place that presents more opportunity than the United States of America in the early 21st century. And things will continue to get even better. Unless, that is, young Americans buy what the grievance merchants are peddling.
One joyous addendum on this week before Christmas: This is the first time in many years that the "war on Christmas" was not significant enough to merit an entire column or even a Talking Points Memo. Have the secular progressives finally surrendered? Or are they merely reloading before unleashing another mean-spirited salvo? Either way, we'll be on alert. In the meantime, as Dennis Miller likes to say when he really wants to annoy his secular friends: "Merry Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior's Birthday!" Or, more simply: Merry Christmas, everyone.