The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States’ Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
For these reasons, the American Dream emerged as a symbol of hope and freedom not only to the American people but also to the people of other continents. Citizens of countries under military rule or other oppressive dispensations have for years been longing to achieve the American-style democracy and liberal ideals. They also crave for the same liberty as enjoyed by their American counterparts. The US became the center of global attention because the Americans were a people who recognized that human beings were created with rights. And now?
For countries in chains, America used to be a dream, but now the dream has blurred. Anti-US sentiments are on the rise across the globe particularly in the Middle East. The rage against America is also growing even among its allies. Nobody believes any longer that the US can bring them democracy. Everyone now equates US promises of democracy with bloodshed and divisions.
That fine dream has to a large extent lost all influence with the East. However, the point I wish to emphasize is the effect on the American people. How and why did America, which we thought of as a country of happy, optimistic and go-getting people become a nation of suicides, aggression and protests? Why are the people of the country unhappy?
Many western writers investigating the subject ascribe this unhappiness to economic troubles. Economic collapse cannot be a reason for unhappiness; it is unhappiness that causes the collapse of economies. When people feel unhappy, insecure and uneasy, they tend to hide what they have away, rather than sharing and investing. Crisis comes in times like that.
The reasons leading the Americans to unhappiness are therefore different. We need to have a close look at the US administration’s policies in order to understand the reasons. The recently unveiled CIA torture report was nothing more than an official acknowledgment of what had already been well-known facts about America’s Middle East policies. People were not unaware of what went on in Abu Ghraib, or in the CIA’s torture stations found across the world. Statements such as “These things belonging to the past” are just an attempt to calm the American people. Everyone in the troubled spots in the Middle East knows that CIA stations are still active, maybe not as much as during Iraq’s occupation, and there still are countless prison camps with no rule of law, like the one in Guantanamo Bay.
This is not a policy that changes with America’s leaders. This is a policy of the secret state that every American leader has to implement. Successive American administrations have for years been monopolized by the secret state, the architect of these policies. These violent policies that came to the fore with the release of torture report is not exclusive to the Middle East.
Although human rights and freedoms are always kept on the agenda in America, the American people are also subjected to a similar policy of violence at home. Racism is astonishingly widespread in some states. People are free to bear arms and the police have the right to shoot anyone under circumstances they regard as suspicious. As required by this policy of violence, in most cases police fire is intended to kill, rather than to deter or neutralize people by wounding them. The Ferguson case is just one example.
While the US lifted the death penalty as a priority in Iraq, where it went for reasons of democracy, the death penalty is still actively implemented in several US states. Suicides are a terrible problem that America is now facing. One in every six US troops returning from the Middle East suffers from depression, and a soldier takes his own life every 84 minutes. The number of troops committing suicides in the last 10 years exceeds that of all those who died in Afghanistan and Iraq. The words of Deputy US Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III on the subject are striking, “Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the army.”
While the eyes of the US turned toward the Middle East because of the Sept. 11 attacks, it faces its own deep-rooted problems of hostage crises, school massacres in which children shoot teachers and fellow students, and serial killers. The country has moved away from its spiritual roots and religious believers are persecuted in many states. The fact that only 35 million people in America, which is home to 270 million Christians, actually attend church is a terrible sign.
It is a fact that the policy of teaching lessons through violence, for long determinedly observed by the US secret state, has wreaked havoc on the American people themselves. A strategy that regards love as unimportant can turn even such a fine and loving people as the Americans to pessimism and rage. As materialist education turns people away from religious values, violence is depicted as the only solution and young people are sent off to commit atrocities in the Middle East, these terrible outcomes have become impossible to avoid. Many of the American people no longer believe in American Dream to strive for.
The American Dream must return. Oppressive policies emerge in all those countries where secret states hold the rein; this must not be allowed to harm either those countries or America. It needs to be known that there is a rational majority in America that is strongly opposed to torture, war and hatred, and efforts should be made to restore the American Dream with them. Because America is a valuable country, its people are a fine people and this cause is a fine cause. The world will soon become a place when everyone enjoys equal rights given by the Creator, when freedom and democracy are perfectly applied, a place of delightful happiness. In order for that to happen, however, we need to strive together.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Arab News: