Sanzi: They love this country | Policy

The most patriotic people I know are immigrants to the United States. Their appreciation of America is different from mine because they have personally lived life without the freedom and opportunity that exists here. I do not have.

A former fellow teacher from Guatemala used to bemoan the relentless criticism of America she heard in the faculty room and in the culture at large. I remember very well her saying how ungrateful we were. She explained that the doctorate next to her name was her American dream. She spent years working to bring the rest of her family here because she knew it would improve their lives. In many ways, she echoed Barack Obama when he used to say his story was only possible in America.

Taxi drivers tell a similar story. I always opt for a taxi (instead of Uber) when I need a ride from an airport to a hotel. Often the drivers come from West Africa and their comments about America influenced my own thinking. They invariably tell me that Americans have no idea how badly we have it. A driver and father of three said he felt compelled to take his own children to visit his village in Africa to make sure they understood how blessed they were to be born in America. Another driver was exuberant that his daughter was a college graduate and he credited it with raising her in America. And while they all laugh at the political debates swirling around them, they use the word love to describe how they feel about this country.

The Salvadoran who repaired my electric fence the day after the 2016 elections told me the same thing. The Bolivian waitress at my DC hotel too, she’s worked there for over 30 years.

A dear friend of mine from Colombia echoes their sentiments. My colleague from Cuba too.

They often say “you don’t understand” and they’re right, those of us who were born in the United States usually don’t understand because we take our freedoms and opportunities for granted. Politicians and pundits, academics and even K-12 educators are increasingly lying about our country and using inflammatory rhetoric designed to stir up emotions, cloud reason and crush debate. But people from all over the world wouldn’t risk their lives to come to America if it was as horrible a place as MSNBC and NPR want us to believe. If perfection is the goal, no country on earth will ever do. There is always a lot of work to do to improve. But if freedom and opportunity matter most, a little gratitude is in order.

Happy 4th of July everyone. Whether you’re watching a parade, heading to the beach, working on vacation, or just sitting in your chair catching fireworks on TV, thank you for reading. Many countries would never allow me or my fellow columnists to share our thoughts and opinions like we do here.

Quick update: as many of you may know, I tried to pass a law in Rhode Island that would finally make it a crime for teachers and other adults in positions of authority to have sex with minors in their custody after they reach the age of 14 This was a glaring gap in the law and I am pleased to report that after five years of effort, the bill to remedy was passed by both the Senate and the House. Many thanks to Republican Senator Jessica de la Cruz and Democratic Representative Julie Casimiro and all parent advocates for bringing this bipartisan effort across the finish line. The governor’s office opted out of having an official signing of the bill (weird, considering the big gun bill signing party they had last week), but he did. quietly signed the bill on June 27. Students are safer at school now.

Sanzi is the Outreach Director at Parents Defending Education and a former educator and school committee member. She writes to

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