Juxtaposed on opposite pages of the BBC International newspaper were two stories: "..thousands of people (in Seoul, South Korea) protesting against resumption of U.S. beef imports..." and "The U.S. announced that it will send half a million tons of food aid to North Korea."
How can two so closely connected groups of people hold such strong opposite opinions about the safety of U.S. food exports? Easy. It’s the haves vs. the have-nots. South Korea is a strong democratic nation, our ally, who owes its existence to the U.S. and the United Nations. It has the luxury to be choosey. Their protest against American beef, as stated, is the fear of B.S.E. but is really to protect their highly subsidized isolationist agricultural trade policy. That’s not a crime but they should not hide behind food safety as a reason.
Whereas North Korea, an oppressed country led by a dictator, lost an estimated one million people to starvation in the 90s and is facing another famine. The government has nuclear weapon intentions, a cruel disregard for its own people and has been threatening invasion against South Korea since we pushed them back in 1951. 33,000 American soldiers died protecting South Korea.
So the question that bubbles up like acid indigestion in many of us when we hear South Koreans shouting, "We don’t need U.S. troops and we don’t need U.S. Mad Cows!" is, ‘Why did we help the ingrates in the first place?’
Four days after Sadaam’s statue was pulled down in Baghdad, there were anti-U.S. Iraqis protesting. I realize now they were Sadaam’s cronies, but still. When the French politicians curse us, the British press demeans us and our closest friends, the Canadians, accuse the USDA of conspiracy to falsify our B.S.E. findings...it all hurts.
So much of our blood and our wealth have been spent protecting freedom on this planet. One cannot imagine a world today if the U.S. had refused to intervene — Paris would be a German suburb, South Korea would be a Japanese or Communist slave state, and Abu Ghraib would still be the real torture chamber it once was under Sadaam.
Why is such a powerful country, the United States of America, so generous in spite of such deliberate insults and bashings? In my opinion it is directly related to the strong religious beliefs of our founding fathers, in which we still abide.
We do not do good deeds to ‘show off.’ We help the downtrodden, be it the homeless in San Francisco or the starving in North Korea, because Christ said, as you do for the least of these my brethren, you do unto me (Matthew 25:40). And we turn the other cheek to the ‘What have you done for me lately,’ because we are directed to show forgiveness and mercy to all who offend.
It is the embodiment of God’s grace. And the saving grace for all the Frances, South Koreas and Iraqs of the world who are free people today because America believes.
Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website, www.baxterblack.com.