The manual transmission is going the way of the unsynchronized crash box. It's an obsolete technology now. Why should you and everyone you know learn to use it anyway?
There are obvious safety benefits to owning a car with a clutch pedal, but there's more to it than that. Since most Americans (especially young Americans) don't know how to drive stick, when you learn how, it feels like you're entering some kind of elite super-skilled driver's club. Even if you end up jamming a gear and skidding into a tree, you'll feel like a driving god.