Every morning, its embassies around the world are packed with people who want a shot at the dream. Boundless wealth; unbelievable power; unfathomable influence – there is no country quite like the United States of America. Yet practically any time that this superpower makes news, it is for a tragic incident that leaves the world questioning how a country so advanced can be so primitive.
America currently ranks fifth in the list of countries with the highest number of executions. Thousands of American citizens are on death row. The fortunate ones are sometimes exonerated by DNA evidence but the unlucky ones like Troy Davis are executed before DNA or justice can prevail. Some people may respond by saying “at least America is not some Third World country that performs Female Genital Mutilation nor is it some Islamist state that practices Sharia law”. I couldn’t agree more, but, even by the most generous standards, March 2012 has been a bad month for America’s reputation. In Afghanistan, an American Solider, likely suffering from PTSD, killed seventeen innocent civilians in their homes. In California, an Iraqi woman was beaten to the bone. The note tagged to her body read “Go back to your country” – A few days later, her soul returned to her maker. America the beautiful?
In this country where money talks, their financial industry was rocked by a cri de coeur from a high powered investment banker at Goldman Sachs who boldly stated that Goldman generates profits by ripping off its clients. In this same land of Oscars and Sundace, Jason Russell, a well-intentioned director made a video about the notorious Ugandan rebel, Joseph Kony, and received severe backlash about the contents of his documentary. Russell could not withstand the pressure and suffered a nervous breakdown. Xenophobia, financial scandal, hysteria about a Youtube documentary, it can’t possibly get worse until you watch the Tuesday special of Republican Presidential candidates debates and hear grown men arguing over antiquated issues like a woman’s right to choose a few months after America withheld funding to UNESCO because the organisation voted in favour of a Palestinian statehood. America the beautiful?
Before you answer that , you have to overlook the egregious foreign policy mistakes and acknowledge how America has improved the world. Their unwavering commitment to liberty is a benchmark the rest of the world admires. Americans invented electricity, the car and medicines to treat serious diseases. It is home to luminaries like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Martin Luther King who have impacted the world beyond description. America gives millions in aid to poorer countries. They have Peace corps and NGOs who are genuinely doing good work around the world. America the beautiful? Most definitely. You need only look at incidents where there is a global crisis, be it an earthquake in Haiti or Tsunami in Japan, to see that no other country responds with the kind of empathy and generosity that America does. Even the polarizing Kony 2012 video generated five million dollars to end the struggle of Invisible children. America the beautiful? Absolutely! Then, you hear the story of seventeen year old Trayon Martin. A boy walking in an affluent neighbourhood in Florida, gunned down for being armed with skittles and an ice tea – red, yellow and green skittles went flying in the air, his blood drooled on the pavement. Another black boy who will not get a shot at the American dream. America the beautiful??? Rest in peace Hoodie