The America We’ve Become

Written by BG Howard

June 19, 2024

Since October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty has stood poised on Liberty Island in New York Harbor to welcome newcomers to America.  Ms. Emma Lazarus scripted words that appear on the statue:  “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Considered by some as America’s creed but, lately, it has come to be viewed as more of a curse spoken upon the country nearly 140 years ago.  When Christopher Columbus first graced the shores of the new world in the fifteenth century, there was no way to know what “growing pains” the country would experience en route to maturity…and beyond.

Factually speaking, Columbus found his way to America but he couldn’t have “discovered” it due to native Indians already inhabiting the land.  Beginning with the first settlers, the continent’s original culture was shunned, bastardized and more-or-less pushed aside for the sake of growth and development.

Fast forward 127 years to discover the first Africans’ arrival in Jamestown, Virginia.  Roughly twenty slaves had been seized by Dutch traders from a captured Spanish slave ship.  Needless-to-say, that was the beginning of a 246-plus year oppression of the Black culture.

At one period in America, individuals of Chinese decent experienced severe discrimination as well.  Many migrated to the United States during the 1850’s to work in the gold mines.  Eventually, they moved into areas of agricultural and factory work; especially in the garment industry and were instrumental in building railroads in the American west.  A heavy migration during the mid to late 1800’s eventually prompted legislative attempts at limiting the number of immigrants which culminated with the Chinese Exclusion Act.  This law restricted the amount of individuals arriving in America to fifteen per vessel.

Another culture with an eerily similar experience as Africans in America, only in Europe prior to a mass migration to the United States, was the Irish.  Having endured conditions of slavery under English penal laws, early Irish-Americans were originally viewed as European Blacks.  The newly arrived immigrants reasoned the best way to gain acceptance would be to cooperate with natives and persisted in oppressing their African counterparts as well.  In essence, they became imitators of the persecutors and levied the same behaviors upon another race to gain acceptance as “good citizens.”

As well, Italian-Americans and other cultures have undergone the same or similar oppression at the hands of the “true American race.”  In the words of Czech philosopher, John Comenius:  “We are all citizens of one world; we are all of one blood. To hate someone because he was born in another country, because he speaks a different language or because he takes a different view on a subject, is a great folly.”

Several years ago, a travesty actually perpetrated beginning April 27, 2018 came to light.  Numerous news organizations reported enforcement of the “zero tolerance” initiative that had been carried out for nearly two months by the Trump administration led to the separation of families and unlawful detention of minor immigrant youth as young as eight months old.  Hatred spewed via social media stated the children should remain in America as there is a shortage of body organs and suggested they “can become citizens on piece at a time.”  Some feared many of the parents would never be re-united with their children as no effective plan had been structured to do so. 

Granted, there has always been a need to curb the unlawful influx of immigrants who enter the country illegally.  However, the plan to utilize innocent children as a deterrent was utterly despicable.  Any parent, aunt, uncle or caregiver of youths should have been appalled at what had occurred to these children at the hands of the American government.

In the words of Abraham Lincoln:  “America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedom, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”  Some question the present state of our nation.  I’d venture to debate the fact; this is the America that always has been but the complacent attitudes of the elected leaders leaves much to be desired.  I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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