The true backbone of America
Today, everyone, even the most “anti-establishment” among us, must adhere to the strict guidelines of patriotic correctness that have been staples of American sensibility since the country’s inception, and even more now in the PC era.
No matter who you are and no matter what you think of the country, you have to offer up the same libations to mother culture for fear of being labeled an anti-patriot. “Don’t get me wrong, I still love America,” we tack on to the end of furious rants about genocide and exploitation. “This is not what this country was founded on!” we crow, as we shoo the knowledge of slavery and mass incarceration from our minds.
But then what was our country founded on? Where in our country’s history, its real history, is this freedom and tolerance and bravery I have heard so much about? All I see are exaggerations and downright fabrications. The reality of this country is that it exploits the underclass and minorities for the gains of the elites.
America was founded on genocide and slavery. Its economic prosperity came directly from the destruction of Native culture and lives, and then later from the importation of enslaved Black slaves from the West Indies and Africa. Even in the North and after abolition, Black people served as cheap labor forces for dangerous jobs. After abolition, prisons began using free labor from Black prisoners to manufacture goods. Blacks were incarcerated falsely or stood unfair trails at ridiculous rates so that they could once again provide free labor for the thriving American economy.
The history of this country is one story of economic or social exploitation after another, shrouded in rhetoric of freedom and gallantry.
The railway systems built in the 1800s were created by Chinese immigrants who were forced to work in terrible conditions for low pay, resulting in an untold number of deaths.
In World War II, America threw Black soldiers in the front lines to be used as canon fodder.
Over the course of our history, we have supported many dictatorial regimes to protect our foreign economic interests. Many of these regimes are violent and suppressive and abhor human rights, Saudi Arabia being one example of an American ally whose government beheads its own citizens. Not only that, but we have also supported coups to overthrow democratically elected rulers, and we have replaced them with dictators who will protect our interests. Haiti and Iran stand out as two of the most brutal and depressing examples.
And all this destruction of democracy and human rights while we scream of freedom to the world. We are liars and greedy hypocrites.
We escaped the bonds of colonialism by becoming an imperial power ourselves. We seized Hawaii illegally, and then exploited its native populace as cheap labor on sugar farms.
We shunted Black citizens to ghettos and gave them the worst factory jobs this country had to offer. We welcomed immigrants so we could profit off their lack of citizenship by forcing them to work terrible jobs for under minimum wage. That is why this country is the greatest in the world. That is why we can afford to have freedom of speech, why you can get in your Toyota and go to Kentucky Fried Chicken or Taco Bell at three in the morning.
Most white, Protestant Americans have enjoyed the freedom and tolerance of a country that was created for them and made prosperous for them through genocide, slavery and imperialism.
But here’s the kicker: its not even working for those people anymore. This is why Donald Trump won the presidential election. Average white working class Americans are finally being treated like the rest of the non-privileged country has been for centuries, and they are saying, “Hey, this doesn’t really seem fair, does it?”
They are saying it’s not fair, and they are right. It isn’t fair. It has never been fair. We have been too distracted by our own “prosperity” and by the partisan politics which could have come directly from a dictator’s handbook under the heading “Divide and Conquer” to see that this country is one based explicitly on exploitation for the benefit of the elites, as it has always been.
Most Americans simply didn’t notice as they continued to get their own (tiny) slice of the pie. Now, suddenly the system has gotten out of control, to the point where the shiny bait of consumerism and the rhetoric of freedom can no longer conceal the truth of the downright deplorable function of our government.
White middle class Americans are learning what the rest of the country has known for centuries: This system isn’t designed for you, it’s designed for the top one percent, and it works because it has been exploiting its weakest citizens, and global citizens, since the pilgrims invaded.
Christin Howard is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.