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Is America the greatest country in the history of the world?

Updated on June 19, 2013

America--The Greatest Country?

You’ll often hear right wing pundits say that America is exceptional; the greatest country in the history of the world. Sean Hannity says, “The U.S. is the greatest, best country God has ever given man on the face of the earth.” Is it true? I really don’t have the faintest idea. I mean I haven’t spent much time in, or studied the history of, say Finland—maybe that’s the greatest country God has ever given man. So before I agree or disagree with his claim, I would first like (if it was possible), to ask some people what they think. I would first ask the African man abducted from his country, his arms and legs chained, forced to march through the jungle, loaded onto the bottom of a slave ship inches away from another man who was inches away from another man, until steerage was packed with humanity, as he struggled to breathe, almost died from infection, but was lucky enough to land on American soil, where he worked the fields without pay for 12 hot hours a day, while a gun was pointed at him and his every move, where he was separated from his family, and lashed with a whip if he didn’t do what he was told.

I would ask the young gay man who was tied to a fence in 1998, in the freezing plains of Wyoming only to freeze to death because he was different than the normal ones. I would ask the elderly, church going black woman in the 1960s, who was told to give up her seat on the bus to another human being just because her skin color happened to be darker than the other woman’s. I would ask the two men making consensual love as adults do, when four police officers stormed into their Texas apartment in 1998, and threw them in jail for indecent behavior. I would ask the innocent prisoner who was executed by electric chair because of bad evidence, lazy legal counsel, and a corrupt judge.

If I could I would ask the sexually confused Boy Scout who was ostracized by his fellow scouts for being queer, and later hanged himself because of the guilt. I would ask the 13-year-old girl made to carry a baby to full term when she was also the baby’s sister, when she couldn’t get to the nearest abortion clinic hundreds of miles away. I would ask the record-breaking college quarterback in the 1970s who was told in coded terms that he wasn’t smart enough to play quarterback in the NFL because he happened to be black, and he would have to try out for defensive back instead. I would ask the courageous black soldier who died in battle in World War II, but whose sleeping quarters had to be separate from his white compatriots. I would ask the Japanese American boy who was shipped off to an internment camp because he and his family just might be traitors. I would ask Josh Gibson, one of the greatest baseball players in history, who was never allowed to play Major League Baseball. I would ask the man who was dragged behind a truck until his body was torn and pulled apart just because he was a black man. I would ask the American Indian forcefully moved to a reservation of the white man’s choosing. I would ask the 40-year-old woman with breast cancer and no insurance who can’t get adequate medical care.

These are just a few of the people I would ask before I would agree or disagree with Sean Hannity’s claim that America is the greatest country God has ever given man. And yes, I know these are extreme examples, and yes I know that there are many more reasons that make this country great. But, I would also be honest enough to face up to the fact that horrendous things took place here, and maybe God wouldn’t be so proud of these things. Simply saying the United States is exceptional, the best, the greatest, doesn’t make it so. Sorry Sean Hannity—it’s not that I agree or disagree with you, it’s just that your statement doesn’t matter anyway. It’s like saying Mickey Mantle was the greatest baseball player in history—maybe, maybe not.


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