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USA:When the model of Western societies, fails
by Christos Mouzeviris
2015-07-08 11:11:45
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For decades the United States of America has been promoting itself as a country of equality, opportunities for all and as a model for the rest of the Western world.

In the recent years though, I am not so sure that USA can claim the role of the leader in our hemisphere,or that it can expect the rest of us to follow its example.

bl01_400During the past years, a disturbing and shameful phenomenon has been increasingly becoming an occurrence; young African Americans have been shot or brutally killed by US police.

Ever since February 2012 and the death of Trayvon Martin, who was shot by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman, about 16 more black Americans were killed in similar way.

The latest case was of Freddie Gray from Baltimore in April 2015, who fell into a coma after sustaining injuries to his spinal cord, due to police violence during his arrest.

This incident led to the Baltimore Riots, a protest and response towards police brutality. As have numerous other incidents before, like these in Ferguson-Missouri, which saw a repetitive wave of violence as result.

These deaths of course are only the tip of the ice-berg. The United States of America is not the country that it wants to believe it is anymore; at least not for its African American citizens.

Discrimination, lack of equal opportunities and alienation is the reality for a large number of black youths in the US. Their government has failed them, as it prefers to waste money on wars abroad, instead of investing in projects that will promote equality.

In some other cases, African American criminality is being exaggerated or distorted, as the American discourse on crime is deeply politicized and influenced by racial and class bias. (AlterNet)

Often the number of criminal activities that are attributed to black Americans are overestimated, as the above article in AlterNet describes. Resulting of course in further discrimination and stereotyping.

The United States often lectured Europe on what type of society it should aspire to become. They actively promoted and encouraged multiculturalism in our continent and elsewhere, human rights, freedom of speech, liberalizations and privatizations.

All of the American values became eventually and gradually European as well. As result, our continent is increasingly becoming a multicultural continent, that resembles more and more the USA.

But what aspirations is America giving Europe now? That it has to allow millions of non-Europeans to legally become citizens of a unified continent, only to be treated as second class citizens and be discriminated against by the very state they were born in?

Will Europe adopt the exact model of America, or will it be capable to avoid its closest ally mistakes and shortcomings?

If African Americans still struggle to achieve justice and equality centuries later after the creation of their motherland, what chances have the more recent arrivals in Europe from other continents to achieve these?

It is evident that the struggles of some people for equality in USA have not ended. Europe's closest ally resembles progressively Hans Christian Andersen's story, the Emperor's New Clothes.

Everybody is aware what is going on, but they just don't dare to express their honest view because well, it is the emperor and it can't be criticized by his subjects!

If America wants to lecture Europe and the rest of the world on freedom, democracy and equality, it better show a better image of itself to us. Plus it needs to start looking after its own citizens and internal problems first.

In an ever changing world, they can not rely on their military might for too long, to promote their model of society and ideology on others. They need to start aspiring their values to the rest of us, just like they did decades ago.

Obviously it is not just Europe who is suffering from a crisis of values and direction, together with an economic, political and social crisis. America has its own demons to face still.

It would be of a great benefit to people of both sides of the Atlantic, to get to know their weaknesses and mistakes. Learn from and help each other, to avoid repeating the same errors.

For that we need a closer cooperation, but not solely on a business level that our elites are insisting. We need to start engaging social groups from both sides, to teach one another about integration, social justice and equality.

If Europe is to become like the USA, then I am not sure I want to live in any sort of federal political or economic formation, in which minority groups are treated like the African Americans nowadays.

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Emanuel Paparella2015-07-08 15:31:34
Indeed, there is no doubt that much remains to be done on both sides of the Atlantic, and the temptation is strong to merely paraphrase Churchill and declare that American democracy is the worst and most corrupts, except for all the others, but I am afraid that cultural bridges of understanding and cooperation are not easily realizable by emphasizing the flaws and the worst and the shameful aspects that unfortunately exists on both sides, and are the first thing the media likes to pick up and sensationalizes, but by the more challenging task of learning what is best as well as what is worst on the other side and then discuss the cultural values that we have in common with the premise that a democratic society is always perfectible but never perfect. There is more of the latter than the former, I dare say; all one needs to do is look for it objectively without bias.

Of course the likes of Donald Trump are not of much help in that respect, but neither is a mindless anti-Americanism, usually based on gross ignorance of all aspects of American culture; a culture which has indeed many flaws and injustices to still be perfected, but remains a complex one to study and understand not to be described by mere cliches and slogans. Every time I visit Europe I am astonished at how much misguided analysis there is there regarding the US, much of it where one would least expect , on the “enlightened” left of the political spectrum. The mindlessness comes through via expressions such as “you Americans...” by which a complex varied culture is implicitly painted with the same wide brush and condemned.

Which is to say I suppose, that a rigorous self-critique is necessary before a genuine dialogue can begin between the two sides where the unvarnished truth is placed on the table and discussed. I suggest that these dialogues are presently ongoing in the very pages of this magazine, it is noticeable immediately and they are inter-national and inter-continental or global as the saying goes, and in my opinion it is that kind of freedom of speech which remains one of its most laudable aspects, and ought to be further encouraged. The comment section in fact remains a good tool for that purpose, when not abused by thoughtless incivility and pique. It merits further encouragement.

If I may be allowed one final point: it seems to me that those who have lived and worked on both sides of the Atlantic on two continents, or both sides of the Pacific Ocean for that matter, such as Nikos Laios in Australia, and are citizens of both continents, so to speak (often having dual passports and citizenship), are usually better equipped for the exploration, the judging, the bridging that must precede the dialogue. In other words, it is they who can function as genuine bridges of understanding and avoid chauvinism and vainglory. I suppose the very concept of a United Europe requires those bridges, be they inter-national, or inter-continental, or the union will remain the shallow union of banks, at the mere economic level and eventually destroy itself. It would therefore be wiser by far for those who do not have such an inter-continental cultural experience (even if merely at the intellectual level, and here a Christopher Dawson of The Making of Europe fame jumps to mind) and have not taken the time to study and understand the complexities of the other culture, to first listen carefully to what they have to say before doing the judging and before engaging in a profitable debate or dialogue.

Christos Mouzeviris2015-07-11 14:11:30
Excellent input Mr Paparella..Thank you.. Totally agree..

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