I was with a group of foreign investors and the subject of Iraq (search) came up.
"You reap what you sow," said one German analyst.
"We warned you," said another, I believe, Belgium fellow.
And on and on. For the next 20 minutes or so I was subjected to every conceivable slap at this country:
We're too pushy.
We're too cocky.
We're too selfish.
We don't share.
We don't consult.
You name it, we don't do it.
Maybe given my mood and the fact I hadn't eaten yet, which is dangerous on the best of days, I might add, I finally piped in.
"Surely there's something we do right here," I said. "After all, you're all here. You've made this your home."
I pointed out to the German guy he could have gone to a German school, but opted instead to go to Stanford. A Swiss investor went to Harvard. The others had degrees from places like Columbia, the Wharton School of Economics and New York University.
"We can't stink that much," I said.
Look, I'll admit to being a little protective about my country, but I'm not going to let foreigners rip my country. I welcome them here, but I sure as hell don't welcome them pissing on all we stand for here.
It amazes me the people who knock us, want to suck the living daylights out of us: our schools, our culture and sometimes our very way of life.
I reminded them, as I have groups on prior occasions, that I couldn't for the life of me, recall the last time refugees crammed into rickety boats heading for their countries. No, they come to our country.
Look, I'm not arrogant enough to say just because we're a beacon, we're the best. But we must be better. Better for a German kid, who could have looked home but didn't. And for a Swiss math whiz, who could have studied there but wouldn't.
No, I told them, this country doesn't expect a thank you. But we're due a hell of a lot better than a screw you.
Then they wandered. And I left.
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