What aspects of America are you most proud of and of what aspects most ashamed?
For the sake of this question I assume that most members of this sub are American, even though that may not be the case. I don’t mind hearing answers from non-Americans, but I am most interested in those of Americans. The answer could involve all things: politics, culture, religion, the landscape, sport, everyday life and interactions, you name it.
Proud: That America was based, for the first time in history, on secularism and the rule of law, on democracy, on tolerance and pluralism, and on principles of reason, science, and rationality over primitive tribalism and superstition.
Ashamed: these principles are under such vicious siege and attack by a major party here.
THESE are the ideals that America was based on:
“ The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature: and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history... [T]he detail of the formation of the American governments... may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had any interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven... it will for ever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses...
Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favour of the rights of mankind.”
[A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States of America, 1787]”
― John Adams, The Political Writings of John Adams
"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.
This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes."
-Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.
"'The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion"
"Mingling religion with politics may be disavowed and reprobated by every inhabitant of America
...All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish (Muslim), appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."
-Thomas Paine, 1794
"The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity."
“The United States have adventured upon a great and noble experiment, which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent—that of total separation of Church and State. No religious establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgement. The offices of the Government are open alike to all. No tithes are levied to support an established Hierarchy, nor is the fallible judgement of man set up as the sure and infallible creed of faith. The Mahommedan (Muslim), if he will to come among us would have the privilege guaranteed to him by the constitution to worship according to the Koran; and the East Indian might erect a shrine to Brahma if it so pleased him. Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political Institutions.... The Hebrew persecuted and down trodden in other regions takes up his abode among us with none to make him afraid.... and the Aegis of the Government is over him to defend and protect him.
Such is the great experiment which we have tried, and such are the happy fruits which have resulted from it; our system of free government would be imperfect without it.”
-John Tyler, July 10, 1843
(cont'd next post)