Following the most recent shootings and police brutality in America, I asked a grade 11 student to write a letter to the American people. What they produced shocked me.
It would appear that your history and circumstance has played a pivotal role in your birth as a nation. Paradoxically, two of these circumstances are now responsible in what might undermine the states from ever becoming united. Guns and racism are two pathological illnesses your nation was born with, the two scary issues that ‘the land of the brave’ seem too afraid to deal with.
It is somewhat ironic that as your first black president’s administration is in the autumn of its office, America appears more racially divided than at any other time in recent history. Many of us thought that the election of Barrack Obama would mean that you had finally reached Martin Luther King’s ‘promised land’. In recent years it has become obvious that this was a false dawn, today you are as far from that ‘promised land’ as you have perhaps ever been.
Why is it that racism is only talked about following the police shooting an unarmed black youth, or police brutality against black, bikini clad teenage girls, or when a white supremacist executes 9 black people in a church? Surely none of those actions have a place in ‘the land of the free’. And that’s part of the problem, it’s all this ‘land of the free, and home of the brave,’ the huge effort you go to to convince yourselves that you have created a Utopia. What kind of sick minded people pledge their allegiance to a flag? It’s nothing more than a symbolic yoke used to control the nation’s citizens, an arbitrarily colored piece of cloth, I would rather pledge allegiance to my toilet paper, after all it has a far more functional purpose and I know which one I couldn’t live without. The incessant patriotic pageantry has misled you into thinking that somehow you are the moral compass setting a course for the rest of the world. Sadly the rest of the world can see right through it and sees you for the wayward child you are. It’s time that you wake up and acknowledge that this country that you sing about, pledge allegiance to, doesn’t, and indeed has never existed. As George Carlin once said ‘it’s called the American Dream because you’ve got to be asleep to believe it’. You have to ask yourself why any country requires so many institutionalized methods of reinforcing patriotism, if the country is so great people will acknowledge it as being so without the need for all this mindless, systematic pageantry.
Put away the bunting for a while and turn off the ball game, have the courage to face up to your responsibilities. Start tackling the issues that as a nation you have ignored for far too long. Look yourself in the mirror and recognize that America’s most dangerous enemy isn’t Islamic extremism, ebola or even Russians, but yourselves. It’s always easy to put the blame onto someone else’s shoulders, but your society is the problem, it’s your mess and only you can clean it up.
People around the world are at a loss to explain your disparate responses to when foreigners kill Americans compared to when Americans kill each other. America has justified the torture and rendition of foreigners for the reason of protecting Americans whilst being only too happy to provide its citizens with the weapons to openly slaughter one another on a daily basis. One can only wonder, how as a country you would have reacted had the gunman been a follower of ISIS. But, because he is a white supremacist your response is markedly more restrained, more measured, you can’t find anyone to invade on this one. The fact is America far prefers its citizens to kill one another than to allow foreigners to do it and your constitution’s second amendment facilitates this. You have to ask yourselves some tough questions, you have to question some of the historical factors that gave birth to your nation, and to be strong enough to acknowledge some of them just might have been wrong. One thing you must be certain of though, now is not the time for ticker tape parades, apple pie, bunting and songs.
A Korean student