by David T. Bruce
As a fan of the rock band KISS and as one who respects what Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley represent in terms of the American dream and the power of the individual to succeed, I have to rebut Mr. Simmons’ recent essay published in August 17, 2011 edition of The Washington Times.
Mr. Simmons tells us that being patriotic has become politically incorrect, referring to the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the national anthem. On the contrary, being one who is often politically incorrect, to be so risks being branded as unpatriotic. To raise a voice against any of the military choices of the past several years (wholly unrelated to the attacks of 9/11) and to suggest that maybe some of the billions of dollars spent on the military in support of not-less-than three conflicts opens the person behind such remarks to verbal assault and public scorn.
I am genuinely pleased that other immigrants have found success in America, as have many citizens of this country. However, the achievements made and enjoyed by Mr. Simmons in particular are without argument the exception and not the rule. According to statistics compiled by Jim Hanas, a person’s chances of becoming remotely famous are 1 in 62,986. In comparison, the chances of lightning striking a person are found to be 1 in 83,930, and your chances of being legally executed are 1 in 58, 618.
Undoubtedly, the odds of a person achieving the level of notoriety that Mr. Simmons has is statistically far more remote. Yes, he has worked hard for what he has earned. At the same time, we have to admit to ourselves that luck plays a part in success. As well, once a person has money, it becomes easier to make more money.
Very little effort is required to find valid, irrefutable statistics that support that the minority of Americans make the majority of the money in this country. My regards go to those that have found the right combination of ancestry, education, skill, and luck to bring them to the top of the financial heap. I do not think many of us desire to strip success away from anyone or show disregard or disrespect for those that work hard for their triumphs. At the same time, I take great exception to being told how I should feel when the America Mr. Simmons describes is indeed a dream when compared with the America that most citizens are familiar with.
Many of us are born into a country in which you must have a diploma to prove that you are competent in a given field. Having paid for this document, you may or may not find employment. Such is the America many people live in now. If a person happens to be elderly or disabled, you may or may not qualify for adequate medical care. You may or may not enjoy healthy food in an America where it costs less to eat fast food and junk food than it does to eat fruits and vegetables. This is the reality of the twenty-first-century America.
Mr. Simmons, I respect you and your accomplishments in many ways. At the same time, you represent a part of America that is either blind or refuses to see beyond money. Money does not represent the foundation of America; people do. Those people are forgotten or ignored unless money is somehow involved. I am proud of my country, for what it is supposed to stand for. I am forever proud of our soldiers, those that do sacrifice their time, their families, and their lives for the American dream. I am as equally ashamed of our government, and of those representatives who care for no one or no thing unless they see dollar signs. They have not sacrificed a damned thing.