The American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. (Source: www.wilsoninfo.com)
This is an open letter to the ‘Land of the Free’, and indeed, all those living under the colourful tones (and yes, I mean colourful… I’m a Brit!) of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’. This is a letter both to and about America and her people. This is a letter about liberty, democracy, equality, opportunity, merit, forgiveness and compassion. This is a letter about basic human decency.
Dear United States,
What the hell is going on with you? I grew up being taught of the many wonderful ideals that America held dear, and it once gave me some belief that there was a country in this world with the sense of fairness and decency to act out those ideals. Some of those ideals are supposedly the founding principles of your nation, and some of them simply ideals that America holds dear… ideas and ideals worth defending. Much of your country, after all, was founded with a population that grew from those that escaped the tyranny, persecution, and oppression they found in Britain, and even in Ireland. Yet more people have joined you since then from around the world, some of whom were slaves -OK, not a bright point in history, but at least Americans saw fit to eventually put an end to it – indeed, that Mr. Luther King was able to stand up as he did as a figurehead of the civil rights movement is just one example of how a man can supposedly start from humble beginnings and rise to greatness in America. Actually, I had grown up to think of you not just as a world leader, but one that leads by example.
Sadly, I no longer believe in that magical land of freedom I was taught about. It doesn’t seem to exist any more, and it’s a great loss to the world that it doesn’t exist. It is of course no great loss to LGBTQIA Americans, who have grown up with first hand experience of the flaws of your once great nation which serve to ensure that it is not free. All men (and women) under the American flag are not equal! Your levels of gun crime are truly shocking, and entitlement to healthcare was a shambles until recently, and is threatened to be so again by a Republican led congress determined to engage in culture war rather than concentrate on jobs, with jobs being the policy they were elected on. Britain is not perfect in this department either, but that excuses neither country and Britain isn’t the so-called ‘land of the free’.
The GOP led house has just voted to remove funding for Title X provisions; provisions which any civilised society should provide to anybody that needs them. Unfortunately those that cannot afford to pay for it can no longer gain access to…
- pelvic exams and Pap tests, important for early detection of cervical cancer;
- breast exams and instruction on breast self-examination
- testing for high blood pressure, anemia, and diabetes;
- screening and appropriate treatment for sexually transmitted infections; and
- basic infertility screening.
… and how are those unable to access these things supposed to have a choice over their own health, let alone their own lifestyle? Is this is an ill informed attack on women in an attempt to keep them fidelitous and stop them having sex? Why? Is it because a bunch of so-called Christians in your country feel that only God’s way is the right way, and so do all they can to bend and shape your nation into their theocratic image? I mean, what’s the difference between a theocratic society and laws based on theocratic ideas anyway? How is such theocratic rule supposed to be any better than that of any other theocratic state… like, for example, Iran? Of what value is separation of Church and State if the secular laws of the land are created by those who wish to enshrine their religious beliefs into legislation intended to enforce the moral code of their favoured deity and holy book?
Why, in this enlightened age, are abortion doctors murdered by those who profess to be ‘pro-life’?.. and on what planet is the murder of an abortion doctor ‘justifiable homicide’, as recently proposed by Republican Representative Phil Jensen in South Dakota? Why are transgender people in the US denied treatment known to be successful for their condition, and why are they so often denied the right to ammend their documentation appropriately… even reported by names they were no longer known by after their deaths and mistreated at the hands of public servants.
What about marriage equality… why? Why is it that an LGBTQIA person can serve their country in any number of patriotic ways, and yet be denied the right to be married? Why is it that when Proposition 8 passed (dubiously) in California, it was hailed as a show of the democratic will of the people, but it doesn’t work that way around when opponents of marriage equality fail to impress with their bigotry. Instead, in a state like New Hampshire where most people support already existing marriage equality, Republicans try to pass bills to repeal it… and when that fails, people like Republican Representative David Bates suggest that a consitutional amendment could serve the same purpose if the bill is defeated… Where’s the democracy in that, in a state with 29% against marriage equality, 9% neutral, and 62% in favour of it? This isn’t representing the people! This is using the people as pawns to get into government in order to use their position in an effort to force through THEIR views, not the people’s!.. and it’s happened on both a state and federal scale!
Making it worse, what’s happening about an immigration policy that not only has no policy for gay people, but specifically refuses to recognise the marriages of those who ARE in a state where their marriages are recognised. Where is the American dream or the freedom, liberty, fairness and compassion in throwing someone out of the country or refusing to let them in, just because they happen to be gay, where a straight person in the same circumstances would be welcomed?
Oh America! How can you go to war on false pretences of WMD’s that don’t exist with a claim of “spreading democracy and freedom around the world”, when such monumental democratic failings, culture wars, and illiberty permeate your once great nation?
Much of the western world has woken up to the bigotry, hatred, discrimination, and illiberty of the past. Many countries now recognise transsexual men and women for who they really are, and even allow them to get married accordingly. Many countries in the western world allow same sex marriage, and many of those that don’t offer a non-marriage civil union which is not enough, but at least something. America doesn’t even reliably offer a civil union, and it’s benefits are limited where it IS available! America, are you really willing to be left behind and stand there as a pariah state of intolerance, hatred and bigotry in not affording these people recognition of their relationships on your soil, for immigration purposes or otherwise?
I used to look up to the United States as a country of freedom, fairness and opportunity. Now, the United States is simply a disappointment. Would the real United States please catch up?