The American Dream at a Crossroads

The multicultural rebellion that started as a protest against the murder of George Floyd, a protest movement about colonialism and slavery that has now reached several countries, revealed the profound wave of racism that has swept the United States since Donald Trump became president.*

There have been hundreds of demonstrations—still taking place due to another murder, the likes of which America has never seen, because, for the first time, there has been extensive participation by people of all colors and races. The notion of race is an ideological construct that has absolutely no scientific foundation and that has transformed skin color, as well as other ethnic differences, into definitive categories.

The famous passage in Alexis DeTocqueville’s “Democracy in America” of 1835 in which he claims that Russia as well as Anglo American people were destined to occupy a prominent place in the concert of nations is often recalled. But this is not the case with the quote in which he highlights the weakness of American democracy: “The most terrible of all the evils that threaten the future of the United States lies in the presence of Negroes on their soil,” De Tocqueville wrote.

The institution of slavery did not blend effectively with democracy. The matter was settled in part during the Civil War of 1861-1865 when the victorious Abraham Lincoln, U.S. president during the conflict, abolished slavery, but social phenomena can be extremely persistent, as after 150 years, the problems derived from segregation remain—in many cases, almost unchanged.

From the official end of slavery up until the current pandemic, the Black population continues to pay their blood tribute. In view of education rates, the composition of prison populations and the distribution of wealth, it is enough to realize that the country of opportunities remains an unfulfilled dream for many.

The basic insignia of America could be Janus Bifrons.** The slogan “In God we trust,” inscribed in the currency of all denominations, hardly explains that worldview, in which individualism was most fully expressed.

From its beginnings in the 17th century, before Karl Marx formulated his political doctrine, America has combined an earthly paradise with a wicked puritanism; it has mixed religious freedom and the inalienable right to free speech with a genocidal spirit and ferocity that left almost no Native Americans in its way, and that has tried, by all means necessary, to erase all traces of the old Spanish Empire—America’s other large fissure being its Latin American, Spanish-speaking population. I recommend reading “Nuestra América: Una Historia Hispana de los Estados Unidos,” an excellent book by historian Felipe Fernández Armesto.

Due to a seemingly magical conversion, the indigenous inhabitants of this vast territory were transformed into “the other;” on par with immigrants coming from “shithole” countries.

Similarly, racial segregation has continued in many ways. Thomas Jefferson had to hide the offspring he conceived with his biracial slave, possibly a half-sister to his wife, the slave’s original owner, because, in the land of freedom, the law prohibited interracial marriage. In my view, Donald Trump’s triumph was influenced by the fact that a Black, biracial president was his predecessor.

Trump’s attempt at a military solution to the current protests was the breaking point, America’s leading military generals balked immediately. On the other hand, a large part of the white population cannot look the other way because it sees only Trump and his staunch defense of white supremacy. The Black Lives Matter movement may resist more forcefully than even the #MeToo movement, and defeating Trump and his entire ideology would change a number of aspects of American geopolitics.

In America, a country supposedly committed to the future, there exists a population stuffed with drugs and opiate painkillers, with many others suffering from obesity and its attendant illnesses. Life expectancy has decreased and any memories of the events that caused these ills have been forgotten.

History has been a pleasantly repeated fiction since the Mayflower. The fracture in the American Dream indeed occurred decades ago, but the need for substantive change has never manifested itself with such force until now.

As the number of COVID-19 deaths surpassed the 100,000 milestone, a reflection of the flaws in its health care system, America still managed to join a crewed flight to the International Space Station by means that put America ahead of China and Russia again. Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” program exhausted the old Soviet Empire; however, after 30 years, Mother Russia, lead by a brilliant and unscrupulous man from the KGB and in close alliance with the Orthodox Church, is back on the world stage.

The lost compass of international politics has had negative implications on every level. America could not even retain its key allies in the European Union, and the situation is even worse in Latin America. It would be ironic (one of the many ironies in history) if the strength of democracy lay in the ability to reform the established order by rebellion. This secret weapon is not possessed by China or Russia, much more less so by us, who are incapable of rebelling en masse to the outrageous murders carried out by the police.

*Editor’s note: Police officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been charged with murder but have not yet been tried or convicted.

**Editor’s note: Janus is a Roman god. He was often depicted with two faces, and then called Janus Bifrons.

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