My faith in America is boundless.
I came here—like many before me—in search of an opportunity to build a life and a livelihood in freedom and in safety, a life that would be an ocean away from all the strife I had witnessed and the inner conflict I had suffered. I am happy to say that I achieved this dream.
And yet, in the past few years, it has pained me to watch as America has lost faith in itself.
I watch in sorrow as far-right extremists stir up racism and the illiberal left declares that American history is nothing more than a record of oppression and hypocrisy and that its legacy is therefore irredeemably poisoned. Meanwhile, political polarization threatens to shred our nation in two.
Where have the forces of American idealism gone?
They seem to have been drowned underneath a deluge of cynicism, silence, and fear. Yes, American history contains lengthy episodes of exploitation and horrific evil. But it is also a story of progress, a story of the fight to expand the rights and freedoms affirmed at our founding to marginalized groups. Many freedom fighters, past and present, look up to this ideal.
The bulwarks of this progress are America’s founding ideals, which have been cited over the years by abolitionists, women’s rights activists, fighters for civil rights, and many others in the name of justice and liberty for all. For nearly 250 years, people have been inspired by America’s original, noble mission—and pressured America to live up to it: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
We can be aware of the founders’ imperfections while lauding them for the truly radical act of declaring a republic based upon universal human rights. The ideals of the republic they aspired to build must remain our North Star. We must continue the work they started—so that their aspiration can become a reality. And to succeed in that, we must embrace their legacy of courageous optimism and unify around it once more.
This July 4, then, I want to thank you for standing with AHA Foundation. AHA Foundation’s mission is to preserve, protect, and promote Western freedoms and ideals—and this also means embracing the true spirit of American democracy, which is the cornerstone of the free, Western world. It was in America that I achieved my dream of living these freedoms, and now I want to fight to ensure that they remain alive for generations to come.
With this in mind, AHA Foundation fights to end oppressive traditions like female genital mutilation and child/forced marriage, we oppose illiberal, censorious ideologies on campus and beyond, and we push back against the tyranny of Islamism. Your support makes all of this possible. Thank you.
Despite the fear I sometimes feel for America’s future, your devotion to our great experiment gives me hope, as does looking back into American history for guidance. At this time of polarization and conflict, I think of Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 inaugural address, given as the Civil War approached:
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
As the end of the war drew near, Lincoln continued to emphasize inclusiveness and pride in America. If our forebears could speak so charitably at a time of such division, and if they could reunite around their founding ideals after such a destructive war, then so can we.
Let us move forward with faith in our ideals and pride in our freedoms. Let us listen to those better angels.
Above all, let us restore faith in America.
In the hope that this spirit prevails, I wish you and your loved ones, on behalf of myself and AHA Foundation, a very happy July 4 holiday.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Founder