By David Wanderi
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV.
I remember when I was in middle school and the private Christian institution, I attended made it mandatory to recite the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of every day. The words are permanently ingrained into my brain, especially the ending line, “One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all,” a statement that is both beautiful and grotesquely inaccurate.
America’s history is sobering compared to the grandiose myth it has created for itself. The society we live in is a byproduct of people believing in the American dream even when it wasn’t living up to it.
We live in a society where we’re still paying for the sins and mistakes of past American officials and corrupt systems that went unchecked for generations. Although I’m grateful to live in this country during this time period, I can’t help but notice how America is always late to the proverbial party of justice. As a nation, we believe we stand for justice, but outside of the American revolution, It’s hard to find times when the general public was aware of an injustice early on and banded together to stop it.
Is this an unfair expectation to put on our beloved country? It would be unfair to most nations, but unfortunately, it’s a fair standard to hold this nation to. America prides itself with being God’s moral police officer to the world, after all. Which God exactly? I’m not sure, but I’ve written other articles expressing how I adamantly never believed the USA was a Christian country or a nation that followed the Christian God.
I would be a liar if I didn’t think the country has improved drastically since its inception in every possible metric regarding upholding justice. The bar was pretty low with African American slaves not even being considered human, or the genocide of the Native American population. We’re not there as a country anymore and have improved with how we treat our citizens.
But even with our advancements, we were always late. Two prime examples of America being late was World War 2 and the Rwandan genocide. During the second world war as millions of Jewish people were being targeted by Germany, America had information about the atrocities. However, at the time America wanted to be left out of international affairs. This is a logical reason for the late involvement of our country. The issue wasn’t our will to stay out of foreign affairs, it was the narrative that was pushed after we joined and won the war. The United States was purposely hesitant while atrocities happened overseas. Our country even infamously turned away a boat of pleading Jewish refugees who instead were sent back to Europe. This objective truth isn’t what Americans think of when we think of World War 2. Instead, we painted ourselves as knights in shining armor of the world. In fact, we were bystanders who could have intervened much sooner.
Unfortunately, with the Rwandan genocide, America didn’t even show up. They, along with the rest of the world, did nothing. During a time when the US had changed its stance on international affairs, they stood by as approximately 500,000 people were murdered. What makes America’s lack of involvement so outrageous is that the United States invaded Iraq only nine years later. Now there are nuances and many reasons for the US involvement in Iraq. A major factor was 9/11, but another reason was to go after Sadam Hussain for atrocities he committed and the nuclear weapons he obtained. Of course, we all know by now that Iraq had no nuclear weapons, and Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Not only that, but after removing Sadam, the country didn’t get any better. We went in for the sake of justice and left with absolutely nothing to show for it.
We’re moral police who are more focused on destabilizing countries with financial motives rather than actually using our resources to stop evil. How can we be a nation that cares about justice when we won’t act until there is financial gain in doing so?
This issue of lateness isn’t only an international one. The civil rights movement didn’t pick up until the general public saw the atrocities that happened to Emmet Till and the broadcast of people being attacked by police.
Even the social movement Black Lives Matter didn’t receive wide support until George Floyd’s brutal murder. Only after his murder did masses of people protest and corporations put out letters of support. But the issue of police brutality has been around for a long time, and people are only invested after yet another person is murdered.
I am pro-America, despite this article being a critique of the country’s ethics. I love this country and I’m proud to be American. However, we need to give this country an ultimatum. Either we stop viewing ourselves as “just” and continue to operate as we always have, or we live up to the pledge we’ve been reciting by standing up for the marginalized and oppressed.
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