I’m a little confused.
I watched the first half of ABC’s 2-hour special about Peter Jennings tonight. It was an incredible program. Among other things, I saw how Jennings exposed the US State Department ordering its employees to lie by claiming there were not concentration camps in Bosnia, helped expose how the United States government was illegally arming the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and how he made sure to show the Arab/Palestinian viewpoint (contrary to US wishes) in his reporting from the middle east. He had other run-ins with official corruption or, at the very least, misleading actions.
Jennings lived and worked in the United States for years — decades, even — as a Canadian citizen. Just a few years ago (2003, I think), he became an American citizen.
What was it that he saw in the United States and its government that made him change his mind? And why did it take him so long?
I’m often cynical about our government. Just this week we learn how the federal government is squandering our tax money with pork-barrel spending in the highway bill. The number of times that government officials have lied and misled the American people and the world, and even violated American law, is staggering. And it has happened with people from both parties.
I believe that this country has never really lived up to the great dream embodied in the Declaration of Independence. We have, over the course of our history, systematically and intentionally deprived entire groups of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: Native Americans, blacks, poor people, Japanese, women, conscientious objectors to war, Germans, and the list goes on. When I hear our presidents talking about how the United States has always been a land of freedom, I cringe.
What is it that made Peter Jennings want to be a part of it? What is it that I’m missing? And why did it take him so long to arrive at the conclusion he eventually did?
We can, of course, look to a great many people across the globe that have less freedom than we do, and be grateful for the rights and privileges we enjoy. But Canadians don’t likely rank among those that are stifled by authoritarian regimes.