„I see America has infused you with the optimism that has made her so great“

Source: The Kite Runner

Last update June 3, 2021. History
Khaled Hosseini photo
Khaled Hosseini225
novelist 1965

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Cyrano de Bergerac photo

„I have noticed that far-seeing Nature has made all great, brave and intelligent people favor the delicacies of love“

—  Cyrano de Bergerac French novelist, dramatist, scientist and duelist 1619 - 1655

The Other World (1657)
Context: According to your religion, is any part of the body more sacred or unholy than another? Why will I commit a sin if I touch myself on the part in the middle and not when I touch my ear or heel? Because it tickles? Then I should not defecate into a pot, because that can't be done without some sort of sensual pleasure. Nor should mystics elevate themselves to the contemplation of God, because they enjoy a great pleasure of imagination. I am indeed astounded at how much the religion of your country is against nature and is jealous of all the pleasures of men. I am surprised that your priests haven't made it a crime to scratch oneself, because one feels a pleasurable pain.
And yet I have noticed that far-seeing Nature has made all great, brave and intelligent people favor the delicacies of love: witness Samson, David, Hercules, Caesar, Hannibal and Charlemagne. Did Nature do so in order that they might harvest the organ of that pleasure with a sickle? Alas, Nature even went under a washtub to debauch Diogenes, who was thin, ugly and flea-bitten, and make him compose sighs to Lais with the breath he blew upon carrots. No doubt Nature did so because it was concerned lest there be a shortage of honorable people in the world.

Barack Obama photo

„And that is not the America I know. The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity. The America I know is decent and generous.“

—  Barack Obama 44th President of the United States of America 1961

2016, DNC Address (July 2016)
Context: I think it's fair to say, this is not your typical election. It’s not just a choice between parties or policies; the usual debates between left and right. This is a more fundamental choice — about who we are as a people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.
Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican Party, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s precisely this contest of idea that pushes our country forward. But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican — and it sure wasn’t conservative. What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world. There were no serious solutions to pressing problems — just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.
And that is not the America I know. The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity. The America I know is decent and generous.

Penn Jillette photo

„The problem is, I know Trump, so my optimism has been squashed like a baby bird“

—  Penn Jillette American magician 1955

2010s, Why Penn Jillette is Terrified of a President Trump (2016)
Context: The problem is, I know Trump, so my optimism has been squashed like a baby bird … Everything bad I had to say about him, I said to his face. … I think he’s very good, very compelling on that show [Celebrity Apprentice] … I really like him because of his absence of filters. I really like the glimpse we get into the human heart we get when someone loses their filters … If he weren’t running for president, you’d be seeing essays from me about how much I learned from Donald Trump and how much I loved being on the show … I’m feeling so, so, so guilty, because I feel like, along with millions of other people, I played right into this. The cynicism of the Clintons, the careful, tightrope walk of all politicians, forced me, as an atheist, to get down on my knees and pray that someone would come along with some kind of authenticity … Well, someone called my bluff, goddamn it. … I’m a pure and utter peacenik. I want a president who sings the praises of people, sings the praises of peace and sings the praises of working together for a great country … Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t have laughed about waterboarding … If you told me right now I could have another eight years of Obama, I would not hesitate to grab at it. … He is unquestionably good and unquestionably smarter than I am, which is putting the bar pretty low. I want a president that is kinder, smarter and more measured than me.

Hillary Clinton photo

„You don’t make America great by getting rid of everything that made America great.“

—  Hillary Clinton American politician, senator, Secretary of State, First Lady 1947

When asked if Donald Trump is racist.
Presidential campaign (April 12, 2015 – 2016), Democratic Presidential Debate in Miami (March 9, 2016)
Context: I was the first one to call him out. I called him out when he was calling Mexicans rapists.... His demagoguery, his trafficking in prejudice and paranoia has no place in our political system. Especially from somebody running for president who couldn’t decide whether or not to disavow the and David Duke. So people can draw their own conclusions about him. I will just end by saying this. You don’t make America great by getting rid of everything that made America great. I think it’s un-American. I think what he has promoted is not at all in keeping with American values.

Mitt Romney photo

„America has greatness ahead. This is a time for choosing.“

—  Mitt Romney American businessman and politician 1947

2016, Remarks on Donald Trump and the 2016 race

Alexis De Tocqueville photo

„In the end, the state of the Union comes down to the character of the people. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there. In the fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there. In her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits, aflame with righteousness, did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.“

—  Alexis De Tocqueville French political thinker and historian 1805 - 1859

This has often been attributed to de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, but erroneously, according to "The Tocqueville Fraud" http://www.weeklystandard.com/print/the-tocqueville-fraud/article/8100 in The Weekly Standard (13 November 1995). This quote dates back to at least 1922 (Herald and Presbyter, September 6, 1922, p. 8 http://books.google.com/books?id=3sYpAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA3-PT21&vq=%22I+sought+for+the+greatness+and+genius+of+America+in+her+commodious%22&source=gbs_search_r&cad=0_1)
There's an earlier variant, without the memorable ending, that dates back to at least 1886:
I went at your bidding, and passed along their thoroughfares of trade. I ascended their mountains and went down their valleys. I visited their manufactories, their commercial markets, and emporiums of trade. I entered their judicial courts and legislative halls. But I sought everywhere in vain for the secret of their success, until I entered the church. It was there, as I listened to the soul-equalizing and soul-elevating principles of the Gospel of Christ, as they fell from Sabbath to Sabbath upon the masses of the people, that I learned why America was great and free, and why France was a slave.
Empty Pews & Selections from Other Sermons on Timely Topics, Madison Clinton Peters; Zeising, 1886, p. 35 http://books.google.com/books?id=f54PAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA35&dq=de+tochneville&ei=w1YCSbS3JoTkygS2g_mvDQ
Misattributed

George Washington photo
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Richard R. Wright Jr. photo
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Bernard Baruch photo

„America has never forgotten — and never will forget — the nobler things that brought her into being and that light her path“

—  Bernard Baruch American businessman 1870 - 1965

the path that was entered upon only one hundred and fifty years ago … How young she is! It will be centuries before she will adopt that maturity of custom — the clothing of the grave — that some people believe she is already fitted for.
Address on accepting The Churchman Award, New York (23 May 1944)

Thomas Carlyle photo

„Europe has made much; great cities, great empires, encyclopaedias, creeds, bodies of opinion and practice: but it has made little of the class of Dante's Thought.“

—  Thomas Carlyle Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher 1795 - 1881

1840s, Heroes and Hero-Worship (1840), The Hero as Poet

David Nicholls photo
Paul Manafort photo
Charles Krauthammer photo

„Optimism with regard to labour as an agency of social progress has been replaced by pessimism that sees little prospect of workers acting on their own behalf.“

—  Neethi Padmanabhan Indian academic

Globalisation Lived Locally: A Labour Geography Perspective on Control, Conflict and Response among Workers in Kerala https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263155852_Globalisation_Lived_Locally_A_Labour_Geography_Perspective_on_Control_Conflict_and_Response_among_Workers_in_Kerala, 2012, at ResearchGate

Albert Einstein photo

„I came to America because of the great, great freedom which I heard existed in this country. I made a mistake in selecting America as a land of freedom, a mistake I cannot repair in the balance of my lifetime.“

—  Albert Einstein German-born physicist and founder of the theory of relativity 1879 - 1955

Attributed in FBI Memo, February 13, 1950 (item 61-4099-25 in Einstein's FBI file—viewable online as p. 72 of "Albert Einstein Part 1 of 14" here http://vault.fbi.gov/Albert%20Einstein, as well as p. 72 of the pdf file which can be downloaded here http://vault.fbi.gov/Albert%20Einstein/Albert%20Einstein%20Part%201%20of%2014/at_download/file). There is no other information in the FBI's released files as to what source attributed this statement to Einstein, and the files are full of falsehoods, including the accusation that Einstein was secretly pro-communist, when in fact he was openly so Albert Einstein#Vierick Interview (1929)
Disputed
Context: In December, 1947, he made the following statement: "I came to America because of the great, great freedom which I heard existed in this country. I made a mistake in selecting America as a land of freedom, a mistake I cannot repair in the balance of my life."

Margaret Fuller photo
Cecil Frances Alexander photo

„He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.“

—  Cecil Frances Alexander British hymn-writer and poet 1818 - 1895

Hymn: All things bright and beautiful http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/l/allthing.htm

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