Richard Nisley

Rhapsody in Red, White and Blue
History - American Released - May 15, 2021
The book is entitled, "OUT OF MANY, ONE: PORTRAITS OF AMERICAN IMMIGRANTS," by George W. Bush. It's nothing less than our 43rd president's Rhapsody in Red, White-and-Blue-dedication, in art and words, to 43 immigrants who, having overcome great difficulties, migrated to the United States, and realized the American Dream.

Bush's masterful portraiture is worth the price of admission. Check out the eyes of those he painted–always an indication of a painter's insight and true artistry. Who knew our 43rd president had such talents? Apparently, he took up painting some time after leaving the White House, and, judging by his artwork, proved to be a quick study.

Many of the immigrants achieved academic excellence in U.S. universities and colleges, while several started successful businesses that now employ dozens–and in some cases hundreds–of Americans.

Among his subjects are Indra Nooyi (from India), who rose up through the corporate ranks to head PepsiCo, and now, incredibly, is a Cadet at West Point. Writes Bush, "Sure, she's a little older than the average cadet, having joined their ranks after a successful business career. But she's tenacious, disciplined and patriotic as any you'll find."

Another is Hamdi Ulukaya, a Kurd who immigrated from Erzincan, a province of Turkey. Having been raised as a nomadic shepherd, and having arrived safely on our shores, he started his own business–making cheese. The business failed. In the best American spirit, he picked himself up and tried again. He saw a real estate listing for a yogurt factory in Twin Falls, Idaho, that Kraft Foods had shuttered. Writes Bush: "Against the advice of everyone he consulted, he bought the factory in 2005 with a loan from the Small Business Administration. He named his new company 'Chobani', after the Turkish word for 'shepherd'. Hamdi's first move was to paint the factory red, white and blue. He rehired many of the plant's former employees who had lost their jobs, as well as a number of refugees looking for work. They started making the thick, tart Greek-style strained yogurt that his family had made for generations." The rest, as they say, is history. Today, Chobani is the number-one Greek yogurt brand in the United States. Says Ulukaya: "This only happens in America. It's magical."

Included in Bush's gallery of immigrants are two that, after achieving academic excellence, went on to serve the U.S. as secretaries of state: Madeleine Albright (from Prague, Czechoslovakia) under Bill Clinton, and Henry Kissinger (from Furth, Germany) under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Also included are a number of athletes, including Dirk Nowitzki (Wurburgh, Germany), who starred for the Dallas Mavericks basketball team; LPGA Hall of Fame golfer Annika Sorenstam (Stockholm, Sweden); and Albert Pujols (Dominican Republic) first baseman for the California Angels. Writes Bush: "As I write this in 2020, Albert is preparing to start his twentieth season in Major League Baseball . . . with his awards (Two world championships and three MVPs), he is a shoe-in for the Baseball Hall of Fame (if he ever stops playing.)"

Then there is cultural phenomenon Arnold Schwarzenegger (from Thal, Austria), which Bush painted wearing his red, white-and blue tophat. Bush quotes him: "To me, being an American means getting off the couch, working your a– off, and changing the world. You can't change the world if you are sitting in front of your television yelling at it . . . If you want to be an athlete, put in the time and training necessary to get there. If you are unhappy about the politicians, voice your opinion. Being an American is being a doer who gives back."

Bush relays the difficulties several immigrants experienced in their own country, which drove them to the U.S. One is Roya Mahboob (from Afganistan), who writes: "Afghan women know, through hard experience, what the rest of the world is discovering: the brutal oppression of women is a central goal of the terrorists . . . Women have been denied access to doctors when they're sick. Life under the Taliban is so hard and repressive, even small displays of joy are outlawed–children aren't allowed to fly kites; their mothers face beatings for laughing out loud . . . The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women."

And Mark Haidar (from Lebanon). Writes Bush: "I asked Mark if he hated the Israelis for destroying his village and attacking his people. Without hesitating, he looked me straight in the eye and said, 'No. Hate takes too much effort. I love. I love my family, and I love America.'"

Bush also writes that since 1901, 132 immigrants have been awarded the Noble Prize, approximately one-third of the total awarded. Also, that eighteen percent of American business owners are immigrants.

While Bush freely admits that our nation's immigration policies need reform, he adds, "I reject the premise that (immigration) is a partisan issue. It is perhaps the most American of issues, and it should be one that unites us. After all, we are a nation of immigrants . . . On American currency, you will find the Great Seal of the United States. Since Congress adopted it in 1782, it has displayed the words E PLURIBUS UNAM – Latin for 'Out of Many, One.' The motto refers to our country's makeup of many states and many backgrounds. It is a nod to one of our greatest strengths–our unique ability to absorb people from different backgrounds and cultures into one nation under God."

In art and words, this book is George Bush's testament to that belief.

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