Sunday, August 23, 2009

The American Mirage: Justice, Equality and Democracy

The American Mirage: Justice, Equality, and Democracy

By Solomon Comissiong

The mirage that America is the world’s beacon of democracy, justice, and equality is quickly fading. The illusion that the US is the “gold standard” for the rest of the world to marvel at is starting to come back into a more realistic focus. Despite tremendous potential the US is a perpetual underachiever.

The aforementioned sentence may be a surprise to many who have long made habit of repeating hollow propagandistic slogans such as, “USA #1”, “America’s the best”, or the very popular, “USA, USA, USA”. These slogans are repeated over and over like incantations at a cult gathering.

Rarely is there any substantive thought process delving into the derivation of such baseless chants. What really makes America number one? What makes America the “best”? Who is the official governing body that ranks what country is the “best” and which is the “worst”. What are the criterions? Is there a voting system in place and if so, do the indigent get a vote or is it simply limited to the elite?

If having a wealth of resources that are seldom distributed to the country’s impoverished then America would rank among the very best within that rubric. If using over 600 billion dollars annually on military, war, and aggression rather than on social programs to help your own country’s most in-need citizens then, yes, America is a leading figure in that category.

If it makes one’s country the “best” if their own government is willing to spend trillions of dollars bailing out criminal minded bankers rather than its most marginalized and oppressed citizens then the US is ranked numero uno! And if your country is virtually the last industrialized country since World War II yet to have a social contract providing free (single-payer) health care to all of its citizens, yup you guessed it, America is the reigning champ.

You would think that a country that claims to love all of its over 300 million citizens it would give a damn that 22,000 of them die a year due to a lack of sufficient health insurance and healthcare. Over 46 million of them have absolutely no health insurance to speak of.

Watching democrats and republicans, alike, pinching every corner they can in order to limit money that could be spent on healthcare reform is clear indicator of who they are truly beholden to, the private trillion-dollar-a-year “healthcare” industry. These corporate political parties (Democratic & Republican) seldom seem to care that over 40 percent of taxpayer dollars go to finance the military (

These corporate politicians aren’t even beholden to some of their intellectually challenged base that has come out in droves to shout out in protest to what they call government-run “socialized healthcare”. These “people” are clearly having trouble understanding that Medicare is socialized healthcare and has been run by the government for over four decades.

Regardless, the US has more than enough money, if it wants to, to provide every non-insured American with quality free healthcare. However in good ole America, profits and capitalism reign supreme, not the people.

Truth be told, when it comes to placing profits before its people America has virtually revolutionized the “game”. If the US can find a way to save money by way of neglecting its citizens’ basic needs, it will. Healthcare should, without a doubt, be considered a basic human right. However, in America is seems as though human rights are arbitrary privileges rather than rights.

America is no stranger when it comes to the blatant violation of human rights of many of its citizens, especially those of color. If there is a special category for the abrogation of civil and human rights America ostensibly helped write the “book” on that hundreds of years ago.

That “book” is in its umpteenth revision and has pretty much been woven into the fabric of American society. The beating and excessive use of force, by the police, on black and brown skinned “Americans” is an institution in and of itself. Police brutality is one of most visible examples of American styled institutional racism.

Police brutality is such a part of Americana that America’s black president won’t even dare to speak out about police executions of black men like Oscar Grant. As a matter of fact when an unarmed black man, Sean Bell, was gunned down execution style by the NYPD the then presidential candidate Obama virtually justified the killing by saying he believed that the acquittals verdict of the murderous police officers needed to be respected.

It was crystal clear that he wanted the masses of black people, who were upset about the verdict, to passively take this injustice sitting rather than to “stand-up”, organize and protest. His words, as well as the unjust verdict speak volumes on the levels of acceptance America has when it comes to police brutality.

In America “Lady Justice” seems to only be blind when it comes to the rights of certain segments of the general population. If you are an American of color justice has an excellent chance of eluding you. If the blatant negation of justice for a country’s citizens of color factor into the world’s “best” ranking system then…USA, USA, USA!

After all the “United” States of America is a country that was established upon the stealing of land from indigenous people and the building of its economic base on the backs of stolen African people. Those same people (Native Americans & African Americans) continue to catch hell and suffer needlessly at the hands of the American system of injustice!

Would we expect a country that treats its citizens of color like garbage to actually respect the lives and sovereignty of people from so-called developing countries? Only if one is still caught up in the American mirage would the answer to that query be yes. This brings us to the imperialism category of the world’s “best” litmus test.

If “best” is referring to a country that has a past and present history of imperialism, throughout the globe, then America would, once again, rank amongst the very best. Given the fact that the US has used its military might to take over countries, destroy innocent lives, and to orchestrate murderous coups, under the guise of baseless and self-serving political edicts, they are second to no one.

America does all of this on the “dime” of the American taxpayer. The US has destroyed and destabilized countries everywhere from Guatemala to Congo to Chile to Vietnam. In each case the justification has been to serve the interests of the elites who really run America.

In addition to the usage of the CIA and shear military might to accomplish its nefarious goals of world domination; the US is quite adept at using lopsided policies like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) as well as Structural Adjustment Programs under the guise of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) in order to economically cripple countries and make them more dependent on the US. NAFTA has made it fashionable to keep labor and wage standards in Mexico as low as possible.

Structural Adjustment Programs prevent so-called developing countries from using their finances to fund everything from healthcare to education. In many ways the IMF is much like the mafia in that they want their money, one way or the other. The only things international about the IMF are the countries they debilitate. The IMF is as American as Apple Pie. So if destabilizing developing nations is another category in establishing number one status, the US takes the cake.

I will continue to be perplexed at the cacophony of “USA number one” chants especially by people whose fundamental interests the American government has seldom served. Is America this beautiful tranquil haven for life, liberty, justice, and the ever evasive pursuit of happiness or is it a mirage?

In my humble opinion that image is a mirage to many. It is also far from being number one in terms of being a beacon of justice, equality, and democracy. The US will come closer towards reaching its potential stature when people stop blindly supporting morally corrupt and self-serving politicians from corporate beholden political parties, ala Democrats and Republicans.

The fact that the US is still run, dominated, and controlled by a fraudulent two-party system speaks volumes. They, and their corporate roots, are one of the major reasons why this country fails to find the money to finance an authentic single-payer healthcare system all the while finding trillions of dollars to engage in wars.

Neglecting its citizens, repudiating social justice, promoting institutional racism and xenophobia, as well as illegally invading other countries are among a few of the reasons why America is far from the “best” and a perpetual underachiever.

Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, public speaker and the host of the Your World News radio program ( He may be reached at:

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