I saw author Garry Kasparov, then world chess champion, speak at Stanford University in the ‘90s. He’s a brilliant mind with interests far beyond the chessboard.
From the very beginning, that nation was rife with injustices and contradictions—foremost among them the enslavement of millions and the bloody Civil War that set them free. But as the false idols of the Confederacy finally fall, let us not forget that those who fought to destroy it were also Americans. Let us remember the “willed moral progress” brought about by the slaves and free Blacks who would accept no compromise, only total emancipation. Together, they helped America do away with the hypocrisy of the Founders, bringing their noble words a giant leap closer to reality.
That is the American way. Lurching forward, always in the belief that better is possible because it has proven true for so long. And that is also the reason why millions of immigrants continue to flock to the country: Even as many of those who were born here adopt a mercilessly pessimistic attitude towards their own country, most immigrants continue to believe in the dream of 1776, the dream of the freedom to pursue yet more dreams.
This is to understand America correctly: Imperfect, but always struggling toward the promise of our foundation. The liberal democracy and the values that sustain it are crucial not only for Americans but as a beacon of hope in the darker places of the world.