I am a college professor and I truly enjoy engaging my students or anyone that I happen to be lecturing to. After a speaking engagement over human rights, a young man commented that the human rights violations in our country were not nearly as bad as violations in other countries.
I was determined to make him understand why this form of thinking was callous. I began by saying that Americans are under the illusion that human rights violations have been far less brutal in the United States than in other countries. While most Americans acknowledge that life in America has been unfair for many Americans, they also mitigate the unfair treatment inflected on various groups by saying it could be or could have been worse if they lived in an undemocratic nation. This is simply an attempt by Americans to claim that even when treated poorly, the mistreated in America still have it better than most in other countries.
I believe this attitude reveals how uncaring Americans are towards their fellow man. I believe that we are a nation unwilling to sympathize with what others have had to endure. The general attitude of the dominant culture in America has always been that if it does not affect us, then, we need not worry or care.
People must understand that it could not have been worse. The human rights violations that existed in America’s past and that exist today in America are just as horrific as the human rights violations in other countries.
Let’s take for instance when Emmit Till was mutilated and murdered or when Mary Turner, a pregnant Georgian woman, was strung from a tree, had her womb cut open, and was set on fire or when over 300 Black citizens in Tulsa Oklahoma were massacred or when a Black man was raped in a New York City police station by six police officers, I guess the victims in each case should have said “Thank god for allowing us to be murdered and violated in America instead of Stalin’s Russia.
Or let’s take for instance when Native Americans were systematically killed and forced onto reservations, or when several Chinese-Americans were butchered and mutilated near Snake River been Oregon and Idaho or when Japanese-Americans were stripped of all that they owned and placed in concentration camps or when African-Americans were used as guinea pigs by American scientists, I guess the victims should have said, “Thank god that we are facing genocide and torture in America as opposed to genocide and torture in Nazi Germany.
I believe it is simply wrong for any American to say that it could be or could have been worse. No country can claim to be completely righteous and innocent. Ours included.
And this I believe.
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