Published June 1979 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Anti-American Americans It has been fashionable in some circles for the past few years to criticize America, its social traditions and attitudes. While the right to dissent is a valued American freedom that is rare in other parts of the world, such widespread criticism may reflect a deeper malaise. The famed French playwright Eugene Ionesco recently toured this country and talked to college students, as well as journalists, lawyers, and literary editors. He later reported that he was astonished to find "a spirit of self-destructiveness, of masochism, an American anti-Americanism" among those he met. Ionesco said many Americans seemed to blame the U.S. for everything that is wrong in the world, but no one wanted to hear that twice in this century, the United States saved Europe from tyranny and totalitarianism. No one wanted to be reminded that the Soviet Union had blatantly annexed whole nations and provinces in Eastern Europe after World War II, had brutally crushed the Hungarian revolution, or had clamped shackles on Czechoslovakia only a decade ago. How different was the sense of pride and public spirit at the time our country was founded over two centuries ago! On July 2, 1776, the resolution for independence was adopted by a committee including John Adams. Adams later wrote that the date would be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. "It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance ... to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illumination from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forevermore." As history would have it, the nation celebrates its anniversary two days later, on the day the Declaration of Independence was agreed to, signed and sent to the state legislatures. During this year's Independence Day celebration, perhaps we should bear in mind Adams' words, and the observations of the Rumanian-born Ionesco, who has suffered under Communism and Nazism. "It is to the future that the Americans should look," he said. "It is the only way for them to overcome their sense of guilt, this self-punishment that they inflict on themselves. This masochism which continues to afflict them, will do still more harm, will be more dangerous for 'humanity, than all that humanity has done against itself for centuries and centuries."