We know that the lonely Native American female warrior as the statue of freedom atop the Capitol Dome was cast in bronze by a foundry that used enslaved labor. No different is lady “liberty” (in New York), which was also erected by the enslaved.
And, the White House could not be standing shining all these years if not for the sweat of the enslaved blacks.
Without forgetting this sordid past, let’s fast forward.
The President occupying the White House today claims to “Make America Great Again.” But we find in him and his ilk very little of greatness and a whole lot of pettiness. Here is why.
Our petty President and politicians of all persuasions are unashamedly plotting policies that set back the lives of 99% Americans and advance the lives of the 1%.
Our petty President and Congress shamelessly adds $34 billion more to an already whopping $750 billion military budget. Meanwhile, neither are ashamed to cut the Department of Education budget to a mere $64 billion, about twelve times less than the budget for weapons of mass destruction.
Today’s White House is like the Torquemada of American law. Tomas de Torquemada, the 15thcentury Dominican friar who became the grand inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition, who was largely responsible for torturing and the burning of heretics. The modern Tomas de Torquemadais yet to be found with a bloody axe in his hand but he does own a hate-stained pen that he uses to ban the battered and deport the destitute.
While the “free” America continues to insist for a safer world for herself, at any cost, it fails to protect her very own. Every day, armed men and women wearing blue uniforms kill unarmed black and brown men and women.
The most dramatic wealth gap is between middling millionaires, who have seen only “modest” gains, and the booming billionaires, who now seem to defy economic gravity.
We claim our nation to be the richest, but it ismore debt-ridden and even more debt-dependent than ever before. This indebtedness is what Thomas Jefferson feared the most when he said, “I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared.”
While celebrating this independence day let us not forget the immeasurable human pain and poverty that continues to exist amidst us, and let us continue to fight for the oppressed and against the oppressors, in it we shall find our true collective independence.
Shakeel Syed, Executive Director, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD).
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