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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

My way or the highway

I hate the phrase "the American way."
Over the course of our country's history, it's been used to justify animosity toward just about anything that's different. We had a period of Communist Party witch hunts, for example, just because communism wasn't the American way. Blacklisting ruined lives, and sometimes the people who were hurt weren't even communists.
Today, this kind of paranoia and knee-jerk reaction is still going on. Take the recent health care bill. One of the major complaints I hear against it is that it's socialism, which isn't the American way.
Our way, apparently, is all for one and none for all.
About 6.9 million people in this country are uninsured, according to the journal Health Affairs. Almost every other industrialized country in the world uses government-funded health care and manages to make it work, albeit with a few hitches. No system will ever be perfect. But many people here aren't willing to make the changes necessary to put publicly-funded medicine into practice, simply because that's not the way we've always done it.
If the way we've always done it isn't working, then maybe it's time to stop doing it that way.
It seems like it's actually the change factor that most people have a problem with. Schools are essentially socialized, but no one complains about that because it's the way we've always done it. For as many people as Obama inspired with his campaign message of change, he probably alienated almost as many who are afraid of change.
This only applies to the big things, of course. Another smaller and more ridiculous example of American pride gone wrong is the time some genius decided we should change the name of French fries to freedom fries. Freedom, of course, is the American way, and foreign things are not.
Does it really matter what we call them? Are the French going to take them back if we keep their name attached? Did renaming them make our country stronger?
Obviously not, and we all know that. Yet it's somehow more patriotic to name them after our country's ideal – an ideal that has led us into several wars, just because we can't stand the thought of another country doing something different.
If it's not a democracy, they're not free, right?
It's ridiculous to denounce something just because it's different. The only justifiable reason for opposing the health care bill is having a real problem with one of the new policies. Saying that it's bad because it's socialism is absolutely not a valid reason.
Americans need to remember that although we're a world power, we're not perfect. We shouldn't call ourselves the greatest country in the world when we're not even willing to help our own uninsured citizens, as so many other countries do.




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