Americans are very friendly and very suspicious, that is what Americans are and that is what always upsets the foreigner who deals with them, they are so friendly how can they be so suspicious they are so suspicious how can they be so friendly but they just are.
Sir, [the American colonists] are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging.
Every American carries in his bloodstream the heritage of the malcontent and the dreamer.
Don Quixote is the true American. . . . You do not have to look in many American eyes to suddenly meet somewhere the beautiful grave lunacy of his gaze.
The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence and back into bondage.
Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half have never voted for president. One hopes it is the same half.
We have, I fear, confused power with greatness.
A civilization which tends to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a fortunate few, and to make of others mere human machines, must inevitably evolve anarchy and bring destruction.
The crucial disadvantage of aggression, competitiveness, and skepticism as national characteristics is that these qualities cannot be turned off at five o’clock.
It is supposed to be part of the American tradition that if we want to step out of line, we step out of line. Democracy isn’t falling in line behind the president. Democracy is for people to think independently, be skeptical of government, look around and try to find out what’s going on. And if they find out that government is deceiving them, to speak out as loudly as they can.
I think we are constantly faced with the same decision. The decision to be blindly obedient to authority versus the decision to try and change things by fighting the powers that be is always, throughout history, the only decision.
Ideally, one should have a great deal of courage and strength, but not boast or make a big show of it. Then, in times of need, one should rise to the occasion and fight bravely for what is right.
Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.
We started from scratch, every American an immigrant who came because he wanted change. Why are we now afraid to change?
I’m tired of waiting. It’s time for us to find our own voice, to do our own organizing, to push forward on reform, to push forward on issues of economic justice, and to make the United States of America, this good country, even better.
My country tears of thee.