By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
“American democracy” has been an ideal that has been identified throughout this country since its inception and has been emulated by countries throughout the world. America’s capacity to exist as a pluralist nation, honoring and respecting “all” races, ethnicities and religions has been called the great experiment. People have migrated here and settled in because this country was so much better than theirs, so they thought.
The truth of the matter, however, is that America is not a democracy, nor has it ever been. It has been a country developed by people who believed God had sent them, White men, to this land to create a country for White people.
They brought their religion with them, a religion that denied the portion of the Great Commandment that says that God’s people are to “love their neighbors as themselves.” They believed that God gave them room to negotiate the interpretation of those words, allowing them to declare that some people were more human than others and therefore, more deserving of dignified and comfortable lives.
They saw racism and sexism as biblically sanctioned, allowing them to make human beings that were a different color and/or gender targets for radical injustice.
The powers that be, however, taught little children, Black and White, male and female, that America was a democracy. They made us all say the Pledge of Allegiance every day before class, including those words, “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We believed the words we said. In the district choruses in which I was a member during my elementary school years, we sang wonderful, stirring, patriotic songs. Two stick out in my mind: I Like It Here and This is My Country! I still remember those songs.
But their words belie the reality of this country, a country born in racial and sexual bigotry. While Americans are holding on to the lies we were all taught, the roots of this country, which have never died but instead grown deeper and wider, are producing their fruit: a populace that believes in its sexism and racism, and that is willing to throw the myth of democratic egalitarianism out with the new laws they are putting into place.
The people who are making the laws, and pushing them, are not patriots; you cannot be a patriot and at the same time work to overthrow the government of the country you say you love. It is actually more patriotic to criticize the government as it is in order to prompt reform. That’s what Colin Kaepernick was doing when he took a knee during the singing of the National Anthem. That’s what people on the streets are doing when they protest. They don’t want overthrow of the government. They want reform, so that all people can enjoy the bliss of being an American citizen.
But what these power-hungry people are doing is attacking rights listed in the Bill of Rights, including freedom of religion, freedom of speech – Gov. Ron DeSantis has had people arrested for challenging him – freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press. The only right they feel is worth defending and fighting for is the right to bear arms.
We can see what is happening, but way too many people are in denial. We are descending into a police state, a state where only a few people are free, but we are denying it. We are watching the U.S. Supreme Court perform as the political body it is, not as a non-partisan, objective judicial tool, as it works toward overturning Roe v. Wade, and makes way for states to do follow suit by making dangerous and oppressive laws as pertain to the rights of women. As reported by the Springfield News-Leader, some have suggested – even before the Roe opinion – that women should not be allowed to vote, an opinion supported as the outcry against the erosion of women’s rights continues to grow.
The bottom line is, that America’s chickens are coming home to roost. Every time someone says, “This is not who we are,” I cringe. The statement tells me they have not studied the history – the real history, not the homogenized version we have all received – of this country. Too many people in this country act like the United States lives in a gated community, making it less vulnerable to the struggles that exist in countries around the world – struggles that Americans have traditionally spurned and criticized.
They will not see or admit – that what the United States is revealing itself to be – is exactly “who we are.” Denial will not save them or their spirits, as the powers and principalities continue to work on their goal of denying “liberty and justice” to as many people and groups of people that they can.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.