America, the Great Santa
By Ben Johnson | December 28, 2004

As famine swept through Russia in 1921, claiming five million innocent peasants? lives, the future President Herbert Hoover (who was then director of the American Relief Administration) sent $24 million of food and medical aid to the recently formed Bolshevik government. When asked why he was helping the Russian Communists, Hoover replied, ?Twenty million people are starving. Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!?

Sunday?s devastating tsunami has given the United States another opportunity to showcase its immense compassion and limitless humanitarian instincts. And, as with every such act of national charity, our altruistic efforts have been rewarded with a fit of ingratitude from the Hate America Left.


As of this writing the tsunami triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the fourth largest this century, has killed more than 25,000 people in a circle of death spanning 10 countries from Malaysia to Somalia. Yet authorities say this total understates the casualties, and they forecast deaths in Indonesia alone could exceed 25,000. Children account for an estimated one-third of those swept away by the 500 mile-per-hour waves.


Upon hearing the news, America characteristically rushed to help. Yesterday, outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell promised a $15 million aid package and stated this is only a downpayment on America?s good will. ?We also have to see this not just as a one-time thing,? he said. ?Some 20-plus thousand lives have been lost in a few moments, but the lingering effects will be there for years.? He then affirmed that America is in the reconstruction effort ?for the long haul.?


In addition to this aid package, President Bush has dispatched military planes to the area, sent a 21-person USAID contingent of disaster relief specialists, and offered to send troops stationed in Okinawa, Japan, to help Thai victims.


By way of contrast, the 25-member European Union, the world's largest trader, whose combined economy is larger than that of the United States, will deliver $4 million.


Nonetheless, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland labeled these efforts ?stingy.?


Aside from betraying abhorrent manners, the UN bureaucrat?s comments sounded a common theme of the Left: No matter how much time, money, or resources America commits to a humanitarian effort ? and no matter how demonstrably unselfish our motives ? greedy capitalist America never lifts a finger to help the downtrodden. Indeed, by our disproportionate consumption of the world?s resources and contributions to environmental degradation, we are the cause of the world?s suffering.


The left-wing blog TalkLeft anticipated Egeland. After accusing America of not doing enough to warn the victims, a blog entry from last night accused President Bush of responding to the tragedy at his Crawford ranch by ??clearing brush? and playing cowboy.? Upon hearing of the evidently unexpected financial aid heading to the disaster site, it added pathetically, ?Update: The U.S. has pledged $15 million to the relief effort.? Ho-hum.


DailyKos and other leftist blogs have noted America?s efforts to help tsunami victims, without praising said undertakings. All miss the obvious point: America chooses to succor the world?s afflicted with millions of dollars of its own treasure because America is a generous, philanthropic, and altrustic nation.


How could leftists express such a fundamental truth? According to them, this country has waged a needless pre-meditated war on innocent Iraqi freedom fighters and ? according to at least one Democratic Congressman ? is deliberately targeting civilians. Their view was best expressed by U.S. Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., when she told a high school class Osama bin Laden had done more for suffering Arabs than America had:


[Osama has] been out in these countries for decades building roads, building schools, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. It made their lives better. [Americans] have not done that. ? How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that, rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?


Naturally, Osama bin Laden has never built ?day care facilities? (presumably for Afghanistan?s liberated working women); he offers meager subsistence and a cavernous abode to those willing to become human fodder for his totalitarian designs.


The broader point is that America has always been more than the nation that liberates enslaved Arabs; it is the nation that bailed Europe out of two world wars, then reconstructed those nations with the Marshall Plan; that aided our sworn enemies to keep them from starving their populations to death in the Soviet Union, Ethiopia, and North Korea; that shows up with troops, supplies, and endless grants (often in the form of ?loans,? never repaid) every time there is a mud slide, earthquake, or hurricane anywhere in the world, including Iran. When a leftist acquaintance claimed that America ?bombs babies in Iraq and Afghanistan,? I corrected him: We regularly bomb Iraqi and Afghan children ? with food and supplies donated by American children at the behest of President Bush. This America bears no resemblance to the diseased caricature painted by the Left.


After deriding Western philanthropy (an odd way to solicit donations), Egeland urged the West to exacerbate worldwide income redistribution. Western governments, he vouchsafed, mistakenly ?believe that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less. It's not true. They want to give more.? He added, ?Christmastime should remind many Western countries at least, [of] how rich we have become.? His words echoed comments Jesse Jackson made to MSNBC?s Campbell Brown on domestic welfare spending last Thursday:


In the last [Bush] budget, we cut housing again, and that was Jesus? dilemma. In Bethlehem, his family ended up homeless. ? We're the richest nation on earth. Our percentage of income to the poor is rock bottom. ? The great fault of Rome was a wealthy country left Jesus and Mary Joseph, in a sense, homeless, and He was born an at-risk baby. You measure character by how you invest in the poor and today we are celebrating the wealthy and the war, not the poor and peace.


Jesse?s Christmas message: Republicans ? and the nation they govern ? hate baby Jesus. Leave it to Jesse to turn the nativity of the Son of God into a crass political weapon.


For the record, Jesus? family became homeless when the Roman government herded together every soul ever born in the ?little town of Bethlehem? in order to extract maximum taxation from its populace: precisely Jackson's and Egeland's prescription.


Egeland is right that the American people always ?want to give more? to the suffering and downtrodden. White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy responded to Egeland?s rant by stating that Americans are ?the largest contributor to international relief and aid efforts, not only through the government, but through charitable organizations. The American people are very giving.? The facts bear out Duffy?s case. Americans make a minimum of $34 billion in private donations to assist the less fortunate overseas, the overwhelming majority from religious foundations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). America has dedicated more resources to fighting AIDS than any other nation, including those most severely impacted. George W. Bush pledged $15 billion more to fight this killer epidemic, which has ravished sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. gives $10 billion in foreign aid annually. America is now spending millions of dollars to feed, clothe, and reconstruct Indonesia, the world?s most populous Muslim nation.


Times like this show the world America?s true moral fiber. Helping the less fortunate is reward enough for us. However, such events should also provide a healthy guidepost to measure how delusional the leftists? view of their own country has become.




You can help USAID assist victims of Sunday's tsunami by clicking here.