If you're not grateful to the United States, why are you here?

This brings us to the second part of the response to Mehta, the “uppity immigrant.” Thankfully, many immigrants and descendants of immigrants in the United States do not harbor the grudges Mehta holds against his adopted homeland, nor believe America “owes” them anything. Nor do they think they must grovel at some person or groups who supposedly have more reason to call themselves American.

Every person born in America, or who obtains citizenship, is indeed a citizen with certain unalienable rights. But that doesn’t mean we should vainly claim to be “entitled” to them, especially when much of the globe mocks the rights our First Amendment guarantees, not to mention the rest of the Bill of Rights.

As the saying goes, “Freedom isn’t free.” That we were born here or became citizens is a gift, a result of a combination of circumstances largely out of our control. Mehta’s family, as with mine, might just as easily have been denied entry when it approached American shores.

My ancestors emigrated from Ireland and Poland, nations that also saw their fair share of brutal oppression, violence, and intolerance. They didn’t perceive their new status as citizens of this glorious country as something to which they were entitled. They were simply glad to be welcomed in.