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The Great American Nightmare

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America is “the land of the free”, but should it still be referred to as this? Their leaders, policies and people defy the very notions of freedom. Writes Anna Chandi

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The great American Dream is the ideal America. The set of ideals consisting of democracy, right, liberty and opportunity. The definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances. Well in the process to achieve this ‘dream’ America’s government has put in certain policies. This certain dream has led to the leaders to force their idea of the American dream on their citizens. Is the land of America turning more towards a dystopian path rather than a dream because of the political control? Well, ever since Trump was elected as the President of the United States, it has shown us that the society of America is indeed becoming more and more corrupt, exposed through the large issue of gun control, the discriminative attitudes and the new immoral immigration and deportation policies. Is this the Great American dream or the Great American Nightmare?

The great American issue of democracy for gun control and violence. The issue of gun violence in America is huge but who doesn’t know that? America’s dream built upon democracy yet the laws and policies for guns are not being responded correctly by the leaders. Americans want stricter gun policies as gun violence is a rising issue in USA. USA is ranked 121 on the global peace scale out of 163 countries, quite possibly because of the horrible level of gun violence. Is trump further encouraging this behavior? Well since 2017 it was said that 99.85% of Americans will know a victim of gun violence. This figure is a frightening figure and if this doesn’t make you believe that the US doesn’t have a gun issue well then this will; gun violence is a leading cause of death in America with a 1 in 135 chance to be killed by gun assault.

But why should us Australians be worried? Well Australia is heavily exposed to America and if their leaders aren’t listening to the public will our leaders too find this ok?

America is a developed nation yet they still have this issue which shouldn’t exist at all, no other developed nation comes this close to the rate of US gun violence. A shooting in Las Vegas killed at least 58 people as well as the shooting earlier this year in a Florida high school killing 17 people and injuring a dozen more, yet again, the standard set of responses in the wake of a mass shooting in the United States of America. This reminds me of the time I read Ray Bradbury’s dystopian text Fahrenheit 451, in this, the wise and optimistic Granger sums this very cycle up, “…every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we’re doing the same thing, over and over…”. Will America ever learn from their mistakes? This same path could push us down to a dystopic disaster. As Clarisse explains, “”They kill each other…Six of my friends have been shot in the last year alone…I’m afraid of them…” violence is so prevalent and is seen as a pastime revealing a flaw in the dystopian world. America’s current situation is quite similar to this which makes us consider could we be slowly also heading down this fantastical path of violence.

Liberty, part of the ideal of the American dream, however Trump’s policies prove otherwise. The immigration policies by President Trump have controlled who can and cannot live in the US. Is this truly liberty? These new policies have led to a major decrease of people coming into USA and also a massive number of people being deported, especially in the Latin American community. Yes, these stricter enforcement policies could be considered beneficial as less people will enter the country illegally, but it has put many people in a dire situation as they are left without homes and families. 3

For many Mexicans this brings back memories of a fearful historical moment they don’t want to relive. A philosopher in Classical Greece and the founder of the Academy in Athens, Plato, wrote a book called, The allegory of the cave. He privileges the idea that perceptions from just one point of view cannot help you understand the world in fact, he who seeks knowledge outside the “cave” will find truth and wisdom. “The learning and knowledge that we have, is, at the most, but little compared with that of which we are ignorant.”

Yes this means that if we continue to ignore the other side we will not know the real truth and in this case we will never feel the pain and helplessness that people feel when getting deported. Citizens and leaders of America need to open their eyes to see the other side before making any hasty decisions. Trump’s administrations aggressive removal of undocumented immigrants is inhumane and a direct attack on the wellbeing or their American family members.

These hasty decisions remind me of Robert who was considered a model citizen by his neighbors, had no criminal record but still had to leave his four young children and wife. His children looked like orphaned bear cubs, wandering around aimlessly in the terminal with their faces frozen in fear. I can’t help but think of Clarisse and her situation in Fahrenheit 451. Clarisse’s family went to jail many times for small activities such as walking on the streets or driving slowly, which in that society was . Just like they are put in jail in an immoral manner because of certain policies and laws so are Robert and people like him. The dystopian society considers people like Clarisse unwelcome and the government knows exactly how to, “nip most of them in the bud…”. This is exactly what is happening in America at the moment with Trump’s administration effectively getting rid of the ‘unwanted’ people.

Now, the national ethos also includes equality for all. However, America’s current situation can be seen as society who is filled with a discrimination issue and the leaders of America encouraging this. Quite the opposite of equality. This behavior of ignorance has led to racial prejudice. “It’s just part of daily living. It’s what you expect as a person of color when you head out the door in the morning,” said Jeff Chang, the author of Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post-Civil Rights America. This certainly doesn’t help with the great American dream for many, I’m sure this is in fact, the great American nightmare. Jamilah Lemieux, a cultural critic and writer states that,

“Non-black people in this country have been fed a steady diet of propaganda from their parents, their schools…that tells them that people of color, and particularly black folks and Latinx people are not to be trusted…we are criminals, that we are violent that we are predators and think we need to be monitored.” Well guess what? The great President of America also thinks this, with him tweeting, “African Americans and Hispanics are living in hell. You walk down the street and you get shot.” His statements have fueled racist actions, instead of America moving ahead are they now going back? If the leader of America has this mindset then what do we expect from the people of America?

Australia is so exposed to America everyday through the media so it is essential that we do not make the same mistakes as Americas and take this as a warning for our own nation

Our reality is heavily dominated by control and authority as it can be seen that under a political view, the leaders of a nation can impact how the people within it behave. The president claims he’s making America great again, but the hard numbers and his discriminative statements prove him wrong. His policies have again and again shown that America is getting more violent and less peaceful and there’s nothing great about that.

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