Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Are We Really Better Than This?

We’re better than this has been a popular response to much of what's happening in this country, especially now with the separation of immigrant families. 

But are we better than this? I wonder.
As a country the USA has been responsible for numerous atrocities – against Native Americans from the earliest days, down through the Trail of Tears and the forced “Americanization” of Native children. 

Slavery and Jim Crow laws remain a blot on our record of Liberty and Justice for all. 

And our treatment of immigrants – from the Chinese Exclusion Act to ‘No Irish Need Apply, to quotas favoring Northern Europeans above any others has always been problematic
Then there's our meddling in the affairs of other nations – installing dictators who will toe the US line – which has led to dire consequences from the middle east to Latin America. We have a great deal to answer for, a great deal to be ashamed of.
But despite this dark history, at least we had an common ideal, a goal – to be a beacon of hope, a shining city on a hill. Though we usually fell short of this ideal, it was still a shared vision, the USA as she ought to be rather than as she was. 
Now, I’m not sure. It seems that  many of our fellow citizens want to turn inward, to wall off that shining city, to extinguish the welcoming lights. To slam the door in the face of refugees, to deprive them of their children, and to shut out the rest of the world, mistrusting and derogating former allies while pandering to former enemies.
This version of American Exceptionalism lays claim to leadership not through righteous behavior and moral superiority but through bullying and swaggering. It is a trumpery leadership, hollow beneath its peeling gilt.

This version is the death knell of the American Dream.

To quote Buffy St. Marie: "My county, ‘tis of thy people you’re dying."


Barbara Rogers said...

Well, one thing's for sure. We're not "great" again.

Anvilcloud said...

We have much the same history, at least wrt treatment of indigenous peoples in the past and wartime internment camps etc. For the most part, we seem to have turned that corner although there's still work to be done with the aboriginal community. I trust that you will rediscover your better selves. I know they're there among millions of you. It's just that the deplorables are having their way right now.

jennyfreckles said...

We can only hope things turn for the better both in the US and over here in the UK. Seems we're only a few steps behind, sadly.

KarenB said...

For all those dark pieces of our history, many, if not most, of the country supported them. That is actually not true now. That is what I hold on to in my times of darkness. However, it will become true if we give up, if we fail to do what we can to stop this current administration. And we have to realize it may take a long time. Civil rights took a long, long time. Getting rid of slavery took an even longer time. We need to hold to the fact that what we believe is, in fact, what the US truly is - the land of the free, with liberty and justice for all people - and work to make that reality happen even if it doesn't happen in our lifetime.

NCmountainwoman said...

Never in my wildest imagination did I envision the President of the United States spewing such vitriol. And it seems to give others permission to do the same. Sad situation indeed on this day. Your post is spot on.

Darla said...

I'd say that, rather, we *can* be better than this. I guess we'll see what happens in this year's elections ... do *enough* Americans see the errors of this way and make the effort to step forward and vote the changes they/we want to see? Time will tell. Meanwhile, I'm writing a trilogy, creating the communities I'd like to see; it's my therapy.

katy gilmore said...

Well people like you are certainly better than this. And there are many like you. That's what I cling to in the dark times. And these are dark times.

Thérèse said...

For the better... for the better. That's the only thing I find to say.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

While everything you pointed out is true, Vicki, what breaks my heart is that we had come a long way to repairing our past evils, making redress, truly becoming our better selves. It's horrendous to see this administration smashing things.