Thanking God for What Makes Us Exceptional

This Thanksgiving season I am thankful for small pleasures, like being able to order a Mad Happy Ale at Twain’s in Decatur, Georgia, and listen to jazz, bluegrass, and blues musicians jamming on various days of the week.

I am thankful that we ended Prohibition. I am thankful that free enterprise is working on a small scale at Twain’s, where musicians gather on their own time and play for tips, where waiters work for tips, where the brewers are free to concoct that nectar of the gods, Mad Happy Ale. I am glad that I am able to stop by there on my way home after a hard afternoon of working in that most un-free of American institutions, the university.

I am glad that the government has not yet decided to restrict which musicians can play at Twain’s or how many barrels of Mad Happy Ale Twain’s can brew or how much they can discount it on certain nights. It’s supply and demand, and I know that when I requested Mad Happy Ale last Sunday afternoon and they were out, my vote, along with others, set the master brewer brewing that hoppy ambrosia.

I am thankful that I am not flying this holiday season, and I am thankful that Americans are protesting the government’s unlawful searches. I am thankful that the American spirit still lives. “Don’t touch my junk” is today’s version of “Give me liberty or give me death.” That primitive part of our brains that instinctively reaches for a weapon against the searches of law-abiding Americans has not been bred out of most Americans.

I am thankful that I can read Ann Coulter’s columns that reveal the stupidity of such “safety” measures. I am glad my father decided to go to the United States instead of Canada, as some of his eight siblings did. Canada would not allow Ann Coulter entrance to give a talk and speak her mind.

The country I was born in, Slovenia, part of the artificial conglomeration called Yugoslavia, was communist; my parents took me out when I was little.

But despotism lives on in people even when they physically leave the despotic country. They become apathetic, suspicious, afraid, depressed. I saw some of it in my parents, but especially among parents of my Ukrainian friends. They had good reason.  Their relatives were starved to death by a government that took control of the food supply. Could something like that happen in America?

Alexis de Tocqueville warned about this soft despotism. I am thankful that capitalists set up a foundation to pay my salary so that I can teach Tocqueville, because the university where I teach would surely frown upon my placement of Democracy in America on my syllabus. I am thankful that after showing Ronald Reagan’s 1964 speech, I could show newly elected Congressman Allen West's video to my class. He is the Patrick Henry of our day.

I am thankful for the Tea Party, that group of Americans not cowed by the long arm of the government, that group that is clinging to their guns and religion, and that helped elect Allen West. There is still much for them to learn, but I am thankful that so many ordinary Americans have volunteered their hours and dollars to preserving freedom. I am thankful that voters were alarmed and awakened this election.

I am thankful that 70 percent of Oklahoma voters voted to prevent sharia law from taking hold. I shudder at what CAIR is thinking of doing next, like taking away my Mad Happy Ale and music because it offends Muslim sensibilities.

Come to think of it, it’s good to go to a place like Twain’s and never see anyone wearing a hijab. It’s a good place to begin a revolution.

I know that the more “enlightened” “conservatives,” like Kathleen Parker and David Brooks, would dismiss my and other immigrants’ instinctive fears as irrational. (But then again I instinctively think there is something wrong with cozying up to Eliot Spitzer on national television.)