Here in the United States, a group of people has appropriated upon themselves the sole responsibility of determining when America was great, that America had always been great but America needs to be made great again! I call them the “much touted self-righteous holier than thou sole custodians of America’s greatness and patriotism.” For them and only they have the rights to make such determinations! Even more unnerving for me is their inability to reconcile the oxymoronic stance of their dual positions that America can’t always be great and made great again!
I am here to argue that it is a uniquely American value to be able to express your dissatisfaction about America insofar as it is based on substance and fact! It is important to recognize that “the American idea” was great but its application was not applied equally to all Americans! Let me explain!
Last weekend I had the privilege to be with my former program director and his protege who gave me my first job after residency! That Dr. Loerhke was impressed by my personal statement all the way from Accra, Ghana and gave me the opportunity to do postgraduate education is what America is all about. Today I had like to say I am an embodiment of the “American Dream” and can’t say enough good things about America! Contrast my experience with the refugee who fled from persecution and was detained at the border whilst her children were ripped away from them and put in cages or “summer camps.” This was ostensibly done because she was not a “legal refugee” as Jesus was! Her experience is vastly different from mine and she will be entirely right to say America has not treated her nicely and for that matter not that great for her!
Let’s consider another example! If you are a Native American whose population was wiped out by diseases brought to the continent by Western Europeans and also gunned down and had your land forcibly removed from you, Your American experience would be different from everyone and you should be able to say you don’t recognize the America of your ancestry without anyone questioning your motive or patriotism! At the same time if you are one of those people who benefited from the land grabs from the Native American and have had riches passed onto from one generation to another, please sing and cry hoarse the fact that America has been good to you and your family! What you don’t have the right to do is question others whose experiences are vastly different from yours!
If your ancestors came here on slave ships and were kept in bondage for over 400 years! After the abolition of slavery your ancestors were then subjected to severe discrimination under Jim Crow laws to the extent that even when you served your country in wars, people still refused to serve you meals because of the color of your skin and nothing else, you ought to be able to say America has not been fair to you without having your patriotism or motive questioned!
Lastly, if the government made available soft loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and you were able to afford a home and build equity that allowed you to pass wealth down to your descendants please enjoy your American greatness! If on the contrary your neighborhood was discriminated against and “redlined” such that you could not access those loans to build up your neighborhood, and hence unable to transfer such wealth to your descendants it should be okay to voice your disappointment about the shabby way your own country treated you!
So there you again! The status of America’s greatness depends on our individual experiences and we must be free to voice our opinions out without ever being questioned about our patriotism! For that is the American way!
Trump in Tennessee – ABC News
Boston Tea Party Painting by Luis Arcas Brauner
By Dr. Yaw Berko an Internal Medicine Physician practicing in Wisconsin, USA