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The greatest threat to democracy 

I had to read Al Fonzi's piece ("A republic in peril," April 22) twice to ensure that I had not missed something. Unfortunately, I hadn't. It appears to me that Al spends a lot of time listening to Fox News. I prefer to watch "NewsMix" with its four channels, including Fox News, to hear the fringe opinions of the left and the right, realizing that the "truth" is somewhere in between.

Al says that as a boy he loved America for its exceptional goodness, and catalogs the reasons why. Obviously, Al's youth was not spent on an Indian reservation among the impoverished descendants of America's genocidal ethnic cleansing campaigns of the 19th century, or in a Black community suppressed by Jim Crow's "law and order" police by day and terrorized by the KKK at night.

Am I safe in assuming, Al, that you or your classmates were not beaten or otherwise punished in school for "not speaking English" as were my German-American grandfather, Swedish-American grandmother, and my Mexican-American in-laws?

Yes, there was a time when America was envied by most people of the world. But then America squandered that goodwill with its endless wars against Third World nations and its gluttonous consumption of our planet's limited resources at the expense of other peoples and nations.

Like Al, I also served in the U.S. Army, but for only 34 years. During intermittent foreign deployments I witnessed firsthand the evaporation of America's good standing among other nations, and often found myself trying to defend my country's often ill-advised, high-handed, shortsighted approaches to foreign policy.

The greatest threat to our republic is not demands by non-whites and progressives to end the racial discrimination imbedded within our country's institutions. Rather, the greatest threat facing America today is an old one that seems to rear its ugly head every so many decades. That threat is the open resistance to the fulfillment of our nation's highest ideals by white "exceptionalism." As we all witnessed on Jan. 6, 2021, a mob of these "exceptional" people had so little regard for our Constitution and the "rule of law" that they felt righteously empowered to conduct an armed insurrection and attack the people's house. It was sickening to learn that so many of them were my fellow veterans who should have known better. Treasonous!

Al asked, "Whatever happened to being nonjudgmental and valuing character over superficial differences?" OK, Al, I give up, when was that the case? America has always been a work in progress. "All [white] men are created equal" (1776) now includes men who are not white (1870) and women (1920). Unfortunately, since the 1980s, much of our country's progress "to a more perfect Union" has been eroded by those who prefer to preserve their own privilege, power, and wealth. These "exceptional" people refuse to recognize that the ultimate result of their continued systemic oppression is the ruin of us all.

Stephen H. Siemsen

CW3, U.S. Army (retired)


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