An Abridged Timeline of Epic Fails
1789 – 1865: Slavery is legal
Until 1865, the slave trade was legal and slavery enforcement was paid for by U.S. taxpayers. People, mostly of African descent, were treated worse than livestock.
1789 – 1920: Women cannot vote
Women were denied the right to vote until the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920.
1789 – 1965: Disenfranchisement of African Americans
African Americans have had their voting rights denied, curtailed, and taken from them by racist laws and intimidation by American terrorists.
1789 – Present: Discrimination against same-sex couples
Same sex couples lack many of the same rights afforded to straight couples, and are not equally protected against discrimination by U.S. law.
1789 – Present: Disrespect for Native American sovereignty
Natives had land stolen from them en masse, had multiple treaties forced onto them and then violated, were forced onto reservations, and to this day have their tribal sovereignty interfered with by public and private American interests.
1860 – Present: Drug prohibition creates new black markets
Drug prohibition has been used as a blunt instrument to oppress political and racial minorities, such as Asians in the 1800s, Mexicans and African Americans in the early 1900s, and anti-war activists in the 1960s and 70s. Today, the black market for drugs fuels gangs that use violence instead of courts to resolve disputes. Vast criminal enterprises funded by black market drug revenues have corrupted social institutions and terrorized local communities around the world. And the most vulnerable among us, the sick and dying, have had their access to lifesaving medicines restricted by prohibitionist drug policies.
1890 – Present: Military interventions and occupations
America has been picking winners and losers in the foreign political arena by fomenting dissent and engaging in proxy wars against disagreeable regimes. America will also send the military into foreign conflicts to “protect American interests”. Usually this translates into American taxpayers subsidizing the security costs of American corporations building factories or infrastructure in another country.
1921 – Present: Immigration restrictions prevent free movement
This despite the fact that America was founded in part by undocumented immigrants.
… and many more.
This is but a small sampling of the major shortcomings that have made America “never actually that great” in its relatively short history. So when someone exclaims “make America great again!” what you really have to ask is this:
When you say ‘make America great again’, to what time period are you referring, exactly?
The time when America was funding ISIS and Al Qaeda to fight Assad in Syria?
The time when America lied about WMDs in Iraq and launched a failed occupation that has gotten thousands of people killed and is still dragging on over a decade later?
The time when America was illegally selling weapons to Iran to illegally fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua?
The time when America denied same-sex couples the right to get married or even visit their significant other when they were sick in the hospital?
The time when America was performing midnight no-knock raids and shooting dogs and children because the police thought someone in the house might be in possession of dried cannabis flowers?
The time when America lied about a ship being attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin so they could enter a war in Vietnam that got over a million people killed?
The time when America kidnapped people of Japanese descent and imprisoned them in concentration camps?
The time when America fought viciously to enforce segregation and prevent African Americans and other racial minorities from gaining any political or economic power?
The time when America outlawed alcohol, spawning a new breed of organized crime led by violent mobsters like Al Capone?
The time when America denied women the right to vote or own property?
The time when America committed serial acts of genocide against native people whose ancestors had settled here centuries before Europeans?
The time that Africans were brought to America from their homelands against their will and forced to work and breed by white slavemasters?
I am really interested to know, when was this time when America was ‘great’ that you are so eager to return to?
You can’t write these events off as mistakes. These were deliberate acts by Americans who used the state to inflict enormous amounts of pain, suffering, and death upon cultural and racial outgroups with the goal of neutralizing them as economic or political threats. In some cases the targets of American anger and violence were bad people who hurt people. In too many other cases, they weren’t.
These moments cast a dark shadow on whatever perceived greatness there might have been for the beneficiaries of these injustices, the executives and financiers and middle-class employees of corporations, governments, and NGOs who made a living exploiting America’s “greatness.” In whatever ways America has ever gotten ahead to become so “great”, it has often been by forcibly keeping others down using economic or military power.
This is not greatness. This is bullying. Great leaders do not put people down, they raise them up. America – and the rest of the world – deserves better.
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