Can’t run from history

To the Journal editor:

When I went to public school in the 1950s, we’d start each day with a pledge. It concluded with the words, “One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” I’m beginning to think that some of my classmates weren’t listening or were listening, but didn’t take that pledge to heart.

“With liberty and justice for all.” Liberty, among many other things, means having the opportunity to make a living, having freedom of movement, being free to express ideas, and having a real chance to pursue the American dream. Justice means being treated the same as all other Americans; at home, at work, and in the courts of law. Clearly, we have failed to fulfill the spirit of that pledge.

When all is said and done, there is, and always has been two Americas. America’s founders took ownership of this land of promise through duplicitous treaties, open slaughter and the ongoing oppression of the indigenous occupants. In addition to confiscating their land, Native American children were often separated from their families, forbidden to speak their own language, and were prohibited from practicing their religion by their Christian overlords; in a futile attempt to “beat the Indian out of them.”

Shortly thereafter, another group of “founders” conspired with slave traders to capture, import, and mercilessly exploit over 12.5 million African men, women, and children brought here as chattel slaves. Chattel slavery means, “I own you and any children you might bear.”

Some politicians say that there’s no point in dwelling on such “unpleasantries” of the past in school or public policy. Instead, they say, we should accentuate the positive elements of the American experience. You know, there’s no delusion like self-delusion.

Many European immigrants came to America seeking freedom from oppressive cultures where you were destined to die in the same social and economic class into which you born. They fled poverty and rigid political systems seeking a more just system that rewarded hard work with social and economic progress.

How ironic that they would almost immediately engage in the very same deplorable behaviors that they purported to detest in their homelands.

There are two Americas because we don’t believe in one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

Maybe it’s a flaw in the species; reddened tooth and sharpened claw run amuck. Maybe we should just skip that pledge. At this point, it’s just embarrassing.


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