Of all the ugly human traits, ingratitude -- the refusal to acknowledge the good that has been done for us -- is probably the ugliest.
Yet its awfulness is only exceeded by its ubiquity. In fact, it is ingratitude that characterizes much of the world's -- including many Americans' -- attitude toward the United States.
Think about it. Without America:
The world would collapse into economic and moral chaos. Cruelty and economic depression would dominate the planet. Vast unemployment and social dislocation would ensue, followed by various forms of secular and religious totalitarianism.
No one would stop the Chinese from conquering Taiwan.
No one would come to Israel's aid when Iran and other Muslim states attempted to destroy that country.
No one would come to South Korea's aid as North Korea invaded and probably prevailed over South Korea, making it a formidable Stalinist force in East Asia.
Japan would rearm and probably seek nuclear weapons to counter emboldened Korea and China.
Russia would probably recommence imposing its will on its neighbors.
Islamic terrorism would increase exponentially -- everywhere, including inside Europe -- as its only real opposition disappeared.
It is American idealism coupled with its dominant economic and military power that alone prevents evil from drowning the world. The many fools of the Left who devote their lives to curbing American power -- from those who manage editorial pages and the news media, to the academics who warn generations of students against American power, to leftist billionaires like George Soros -- do not understand this.
The world's nations should be thanking God or whatever they believe in for America. Instead, most of them celebrate the United Nations, which actually abets evil and increases human suffering.
To highlight this phenomenon, I propose giving an annual Ingrate of the Year Award to some particularly ungrateful group, country, organization or individual.
In most years, South Korean politicians, journalists and students win the award without much competition. It is, after all, difficult to match their level of ingratitude.
Tens of thousands of Americans died and many more were maimed in order to keep the southern half of the Korean peninsula from falling under one of the most grotesquely cruel regimes in human history. And American troops remain in South Korea to protect it from an invasion by the psychopaths who run the North Korean concentration camps. Yet South Korean journalists, politicians and students vie with one another to see who can most articulately condemn America. If there is a national parallel to South Korean ingratitude to America, I am unaware of it.
But this year, those South Koreans must share the Ingrate Award with the Iraqi Olympic soccer team.
Remember that under Saddam Hussein, not only were Iraqis not free, athletes were singled out for torture. It was Uday Hussein, the sadistic sociopath son of Saddam, who headed the Iraqi Olympic Committee, and it was his policy to torture -- real torture, not American detainee abuse -- Iraqi athletes who did not perform successfully in international competitions.
Yet, when asked about their newfound freedom, the Iraqi athletes showered contempt on the country which, through tremendous human and monetary sacrifice, made it possible for them to compete in Athens after being banned from international competition in the last years of Saddam and Uday's rule.
Ahmed Al-Samarri, Iraq's Olympic Committee president, acknowledged this when he said: "Women's sports started from ground zero here because of the previous regime, which had abused many, many girls who wish to practice or join sports."
Yet, the one Iraqi woman athlete at the Athens Olympics, Ala'a Jassim, told American reporters that the American invasion of Iraq "was a very bad idea."
Likewise, Ahmad Manajid, a midfielder for the Iraqi soccer team, when asked about a pro-Bush ad that shows the Iraqi soccer team playing as free men, asked reporters, "How will he (Bush) meet his God having slaughtered so many men and women?" According to Sports Illustrated, he added that he would be killing Americans in Iraq if he were not playing soccer.
"There is so much hate on this team for America," said Bernd Stange, the German who coached the Iraqi team until he resigned in July.
One great lesson of American history is that one does good in this world because it is right to do good, not because the recipients will be grateful. We Americans must therefore never judge the rightness of our actions on how much gratitude or censure we receive. So long as we remain the most blessed country on earth, it is our duty to do as much good as we can. In fact, if we don't, we will cease to be blessed.
But the ingrates still deserve the contempt of decent people.