Ronald Mason | America as it is
The United States, our dominant neighbour to the north, has had a well-oiled public relations machinery that has left us with perceptions of America not as it is, but how we hoped it would be.
It would be difficult to find one family in Jamaica that does not have at least one close member living in the US. America facilitates remittances on which Jamaica is dependent and provides our largest bloc of tourists.
But who, or what, is America?
America is baseball, apple pie, hot dogs, violence, automobiles, technology, miserable winters and mercilessly hot summers. Is this America not the same America that produced Martin Luther King Jr and assassinated him in 1968? The same America that produced Malcolm X and assassinated him 1965? The same America whose immigrants landed at Plymouth Rock but subjugated black people. The same America that, in the last 50 years, has been in a constant state of war and hostilities?
The reason many people are just seeing America for what it is is because the US has waged war and taken the hostility to other countries. Think World War II, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Syria, Panama, and even our little Grenada. America has always successfully taken death and destruction to somebody else's homeland. That is the real face of America, not what we fantasise it to be.
Donald Trump was lawfully elected to be the 45th president of the US and came to power primarily with the overwhelming votes of a group whom Hillary Clinton labelled "the deplorable". This was not complimentary, but how could anything complimentary be said of the person who boasted about shooting someone on Fifth Avenue in New York City and still be elected?
NO POLITICAL EXPERIENCE
Donald Trump was elected with no political experience, no multinational corporation managerial acumen. This crude, uncouth person who defied all convention would not disclose his tax returns; would not display detailed medical records; and who embraces the hate-spewing white 'deplorable'. He lost the popular vote by more than two million, but overwhelmingly won the Electoral College. He won the presidency even though his pretences were stripped away.
Donald Trump embraces the neo-Nazi, KKK, alt-right, illiterate trailer trash. He is the defender of their perceived grievances in a country where more persons are incarcerated than any other place on earth. He defends the indefensible where one-third of the black male population is either in jail, in court on the way to jail, or on probation, having left jail. They are at the bottom of every statistical indices, being least educated, last hired, first fired, and most likely to be the recipient of police violence, yet Trump got more black votes than Mitt Romney.
We should not be surprised at the current state of affairs in America. The 'deplorables' have been feeling deprived and maligned in their country. They still ride around in pickup trucks with gun racks and Confederate flags. They still harbour deep-seated animosity to the extent that even after sharing an hour of Bible study at Mother Emanuel Church, one of their avowed members could still gun down nine black people. The America that is, and not as we hoped it would be.
America has also provided the world with achievements for good. In 1969, America landed a man on the moon, a technological feat made even more awe-inspiring when he was returned to earth in relative safety. America has made remarkable contributions to industrialisation, advancement in agriculture and the weapons sector, creating fearsome armaments.
One must, therefore, think on what could be if America were to be a global leader in solving some of the world's problems. They will tell you that they have, but they deny climate change. They withhold health-care benefits from the needy. America is the only industrialised country of the top 34 that does not have national health coverage for all of its citizens.
America funds pre-tertiary education on a per-capita basis, because it says education is a state prerogative, not a national prerogative. This results in the graduates of the wealthy counties always being preferred in comparison to the less well-off. This is why the deplorables are now out in full force, because they elected Trump to give them recognition by making 'America great again', by making America white. It never was. America that is, and not as we hoped it would be.
- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.