So exactly when was America great?

Was it when the Declaration of Independence said "All men (white males) were created equal?" Or when Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson bred slaves for profit to fund lavish lifestyles?

Maybe in 1857 when President Buchanan (from Pennsylvania) strong armed the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott decision that said Africans were inferior species "not included, and were not intended to be included ... [as] citizens in the Constitution."

Was it in 1860 when 40 percent of the north voted for Sen. Stephen Douglas (from Illinois) for president who maintained "this government was made by our fathers on the white basis, by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever." How about in 1866 (a year after "American hero" General Sherman defeated slavery) when Sherman and "American hero" President Grant conspired to commit genocide, "We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children."

Or when the Supreme Court in its 1896 decision Plessy v. Ferguson upheld segregation as Constitutional saying, "A commingling of the two races" is "unsatisfactory." Maybe prior to 1920 when America considered women less worthy than Blacks and allowed Blacks to vote, but not women.

Was it in 1942 when America incarcerated Japanese American citizens in concentration camps. Or in 1978 when most of the schools in the south were still segregated.

Maybe in 1983 when "religious" schools like Bob Jones University were still denying admission to Blacks saying it was their constitutional "American right?" Was it from 2002 to 2006 when the American military committed human rights violations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay? How about up until 2016 when the last school district in America was desegregated 62 years after the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Yes, I know, someone is going to say "Leave America if you don't like it." They are the problem.

(70) comments

Greg F

When? The racist

phydeaux994

I think that Mr. Burgess may be guilty of overemphasizing the “bad”. I agree that the “good” in America far outweighs the “bad”. But I believe that Mr. Burgess is pointing out a problem that has existed in our Country since it’s origins and is tearing America apart as we are discussing it here today. As America becomes more diverse, and the minority population grows as a percentage of the population, how are we going to deal with that?? Five States are majority minority. Maryland will soon become the sixth. Fifty major Cities are majority minority. The U.S. is projected to be majority minority Country by 2050, only 30 YEARS away. America is going to be influenced by the growing minority population. It already is as Trump and Co. already blame the “Democratic poorly run States and Cities” that are Governed by more Liberal Administrations. We are today a largely Racially, Politically, divided Nation. America will become more diverse, more Liberal, like it or not. We must Unite to survive. That’s not looking so good.

MRS M

phydeaux, you're so right on target here. Stuart Stevens, Republican stategist now turned Lincoln Project member, has pointed out in a podcast recently that the dirty little "secret" of the Republican Party is, AND HAS ALWAYS BEEN, the ingrained, accepting, hateful "look the other way" racism, which is now (finally!) destroying that party of cowards from the inside-out, as the demographics of our nation rapidly change. My hope..... (my prayer)...is that the Senate can be flipped in November. AND, that citizens will VOTE. ( No surprise that this is trump's next, but not last, desperate attempt to impact voters' access).

DickD

Good analysis, phy.[thumbup]

olefool

You cannot know whether the USA s still a "great" nation until you live a little in Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's shoes. He came here as a seeker, found and partook of our treasures only to have them trampled by the demon of greed and avarice. We all should honor him.

veritas

Such an angry, sad screed. Hopefully Mr. Burgess will somehow manage to find some peace... somewhere.

shiftless88

says the king of angry, sad screeds?

awteam2000

Anger or just the other-side? A wake up call?

The Wendy's restaurant burned down, a firIng protest on June 13, where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by police following a struggle in the restaurant's drive-thru line in Atlanta, because he was asleep in his car. That’s anger.

Yes, there is another side of the coin. A lot of ugly on one side but on the flip side we have made progress, a long history of resistance of fighting for liberty for of all, “human rights“ and “equal access to goods and services” and political participation. “The Great Experiment“ , And yes, America has led the world. But on this day Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, were lynched in Marion, Indiana on this date August 7 in 1930, in the “greatest country”.

It’s took along time to get where we are and we have a long way to go.

I would have preferred mentionIng those that objected, resisted, fought for the abolishment of slavery, racial servitude , the blood draw to change the wrong doings and life’s spent on efforts to correct misdeeds. Those were Americans too. But sometimes we need a “Me Too“ moment, a letter, comment, a protest . Just to wake everyone up, an awakening if not a reckoning to know where we are.

Burgessdr

[thumbup]

shiftless88

aw: as someone has already said before; we know who here would have supported the Montgomery police against MLK jr.

wran

In my life I have traveled to 15 countries, and I have studied and read about many others. I honor my country and rate it as the best.

awteam2000

Me too. That’s why it bothers me so much when I come home and see a knee on an American’s neck. I’m sure it bothers you too. That shouldn’t happen here. Right?

bosco

There should never be an instance like the murder of George Floyd. As I watched that video the first time, I was struck with the overwhelming feeling that had I been a bystander I would've felt compelled to intervene physically - but with three other cops at the scene there might've been two dead that day.

[sad][sad]

DickD

Why only two Bosco. Don't you feel those standing by, as Floyd called out for his mother, were equally guilty.

francesca_easa

God bless you. Outside of a few countries in Europe, there is no other place I would rather be. Let's make America Greater!!!

awteam2000

Trump has said the same thing on multiple occasions. Remember the interview he had with Bill O’Reilly, when Bill asked Trump about Putin murdering reporters, Trump responded, “the US has done the same thing”. When questioned about bounties being place on American soldiers in Afghanistan and Russia supplying arms to the Taliban, in the Jonathan Swan interview, Trump said, “we did it too, in the past”. Would that be a good mandate (front the right) on American values?

matts853

We are far from perfect, but compared to most “civilizations” past and present in human history we are angels compared to: Nazi Germany; Imperial Japan; Facist Italy; the monarchies of Britain, France, and Spain; North Korea; Communist China; Communist Russia; Ghengis Khan and the mongrels; the Roman Empire; militant Native American tribes (before colonists arrived); Vikings; much of the Middle East where women are stoned to death just for talking to a man other than her husband; much of Africa with their slavery and warlords and abject poverty; Mexico and much of Central America with their drug lords...get the picture, Don?

No corner of the world has been spared from human atrocities. It’s in our nature and Neanderthal DNA to conquer and dominate others. We see it in the animal kingdom. The difference is our atrocities against one another are a conscientious choice and pre-meditated to varying degrees of savagery throughout human history. I would grade America’s short history as an overall B+ / A- on the benevolent side. Like Smokey and the Bandit we have come a long way in a very short time to cure our internal ills and fight tyranny and oppression across the globe. Imperfect as we are, we are the nice guys, Don.

All in all I would rate your letter an F for its complete lack of critical thinking and originality.

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] matt!

jsklinelga

matt853

Excellent response. I might add one point that differs slightly. You said " our atrocities against one another are a conscientious choice" Not everything is conscientious but sometimes a byproduct of human nature. Consider the systemic inequality that is occurring right now.

I have watched carefully actions concerning distance learning. I read Mr. Smith's editorial about his 10 year old son and how he supported schools closing. I do not blame him.It comes from a point of privilege. But will it have a harmful impact on others. I have heard slight mentions of the real inequality caused by distance learning and how it will affect the poor communities but I have seen very little action to address the situation. Several years from now we will read articles about this situation and how this shut down of schools had a pronounced detrimental effect on the the poorer communities. Certainly there will be hand wringing.and blame cast. I hope Mr. Burgess is working tirelessly to address this current, very real systemic inequality.

awteam2000

JSK, You should have ended your comment after “Excellent response”.

shiftless88

jsk; it is worth pointing out that the entire pandemic hurts poor people more. Yet your King refuses to push the wearing of masks and social distancing in order to bring the virus and disease to its knees. Therefore prolonging the problem and exacerbating the situations of already underprivileged people. So if you care so much about those people, then you should be railing at your King to lead instead of waffle.

bosco

Excellent post, matt! [thumbup][ninja]

Burgessdr

The issue here is that our nation has continued along this path of systemic racism from its very beginning to the present day.  That is abhorrent.

Unfortunately, there are those who simply dont get it and poo poo the problem, wont acknowledge it, and instead wrap themselves in the flag of nationalism singing the hymn "How Great We Art."  

But fortunately, the times we are living in today may be a watershed moment in our history.  Like the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments in 1865, 1868, and 1870 and the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 1965, 1968 and 1972. 

America was great in those instances.   Maybe again in the next several years.

matts853

So you just answered the question asked in the title of your essay.

Burgessdr

So you still missed the entire point of the essay.

Burgessdr

You dont get the big problem of systematic inequality and instead wrap yourself in the flag of nationalism singing the hymn "How Great We Art."

francesca_easa

Thank you Matt. You are so right. And one of the few posters here with any intelligence.

Dwasserba

Maybe it was after Sammy Davis Jr. worked tirelessly to elect President Kennedy then after he married Mai Britt, Kennedy told Sinatra to un-invite Davis to the Inauguration? (Sinatra documentary on Netflix).

pdl603

Instead of teaching what is wrong with the greatest nation in the history of humankind, perhaps we should return to teaching good moral character. Good moral character is what will change this country not lefty mandated feel good measures.

Burgessdr

I agree. Those who do not acknowledge and thus support systemic racism are not of "good moral character."

matts853

Wow Don, you don’t know when to quit. The good in this nation far outweighs the bad. More so than in many countries.

Blueline

This sounds like it was lifted from an Andrew Cuomo speech from two years ago. However, I don't think Don needs to be concerned with being charged with plagiarism, as Cuomo quickly walked back on his comments and probably prefers that everyone forgets he said them in the first place.

matts853

How many racist, sexist, and overall idiotic comments does Trump prefer people forget...oh right - none. Because he has no conscious and a very limited sense of right from wrong. You should work on your social awareness, Blue.

Blueline

Well, I think I am socially aware. I am conscious, and I do have a conscience.

Brookhawk

There is nothing wrong with not being as great as we thought we were. There is nothing wrong with flaws as long as we acknowledge them and work on them, and I'm sorry, but the US has had plenty of flaws from the beginning. Nobody - no country - is perfect. We should always strive to do better, just as each of us as individuals should always strive to do better.

JerryR

Mr. Burgess, as you so clearly state....you are welcome to leave. Try Venezuela, or North Korea, I'm sure they would welcome you with open arms. BTW, if it wasn't for our great country and people like my father, grandfather, and uncles that served in our armed forces to keep us free, you most likely would be speaking a different language, quite possibly German or Russian and sitting in a gulag. Obviously you are not a student of history or you would know from all the points you make about our past, that the entire world operated like that or worse during those times and some of it still exists outside the U.S. today. Think about it!!

Burgessdr

I am a student of history.

Did you know that the 14th Amendment (1868) says "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

It took 100 years exactly for Congress until tje Civil Rights Act of 1968 to pass legislation regarding racial discrimination in housing.

That's the history.

BTW My father and stepfather and uncle fought In WWII, and my grandfather in WWI. And they abhorred systemic racism.

matts853

Professor Don, refer to my post above to refresh your knowledge of human history.

phydeaux994

JerryR, some of it still exists in America today. Look in the mirror, read the comments here today from the RRR(RadicalRightRepublicans). We are a great Country but we still have a major flaw we need to correct. Unfortunately, some don’t believe that everyone in the Country should have the the same Rights and opportunities as the White Ruling Class. That must change.

Burgessdr

[thumbup]

bosco

I agree, phydeaux. Everyone deserves to have the same rights and opportunities. Beyond that, it's up to the individual what they make of those rights and opportunities. Sadly, too many don't use them. But that's another discussion for another day.[ninja]

Dwasserba

My husband and I had parents (including our moms), grandparents, uncles, cousins, and in my case 1 boyfriend who served, but can still see the merit in a letter like this. The "whole world operated like that." Kinda his point.

Burgessdr

[thumbup]

Burgessdr

There is (something) wrong" with a nation where many today do not "acknowledge" and have not really "strived (very hard) to do better."

Apparently you are not familiar with the Constitution, specifically the 15th Amendment (1870) which says "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.  Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."  

It only took Congress 95 years until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to enact "appropriate legislation" that "enforced this article" with regard to the "right of citizens to vote" and prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

That's not really much of a "striving to better" since today we have largely the same issues of racial inequality today as in 1965. It is clear today that there are many who still support it.

matts853

You are out of your mind, Don. Racial disparities are nothing like they were in 1965.

Burgessdr

Deflection from the primary issue.

tonyc51

Mr. Burgess, maybe just maybe if America is not the great country that I feel, it is is due to people as yourself constantly trying to bring it down. Be thankful that you were born here, in a country, although maybe not perfect, where you can criticize it and not be put into prison or worse. Have a nice day, while and think about the millions of people from "perfect countries" who would trade places with you be here..

Burgessdr

The problem of racial inequality is "due to people" that are "constantly trying to" deny its existence, and worse yet perpetuate it with attitudes. "Be thankful that you were born" privileged as I was and do, and "think about the millions of people from (the US) who would trade places with you" (and me).

tonyc51

Mr. Burgess obviously you are what could be called a "one trick pony". You fail to see the good because of your perception that you (and the country) are not perfect because you were born an Euro-American. Is the USA perfect no, but the attitude that you are not able to succeed if you were not born an Euro-American, is just fallacy. Just as a few examples please consider Barrack Obama; Clarence Thomas, Tim Scott, Robert Johnson, Herman Cain, Oprah Winfrey, Jay z, Kanye West, Spike Lee. All from different backgrounds, yet have been able to succeed in the country you disparage so blindly. Are we perfect no, but the possibility exists for most who strive to search for the keys to success, and not wait for others to provide them to them.

awteam2000

Tony , I don’t see where Burgess specifically said of “Euro-American” dissent. Quite the opposite, Many Africans-Americans have European ancestors but don’t pass for white and weren’t considered White.

I think he’s being more direct, more exclusive , even more abrasive “White”, skin color. Genetic studies reveal that 73.2% of all Blacks with ancestry dating back to antebellum, before 1860, inAmerica have some European lineage but are “colored” in complexion and are not considered “white“ in America. There were many classification from negro, mulatto, quadroon, and octoroon who had seven white great-grandparents out of eight.

Who is black?" has long been that a black is any person with any known African black ancestry. This definition reflects the long experience with slavery and later with “Jim Crow” segregation.

Burgessdr

The issue is not of succeeding. The issue is discrimination. The dark underbelly of America. With 10s of millions of Americans guilty of that.

Rick Blatchford

It has been said, ""If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will." He proves the point. What a dark place his world must be. There's always the other side of that coin should he choose to flip it over.

Burgessdr

The issue here is that those of color dont "always (have access to) the other side that coin." You clearly dont get that.

tonyc51

The key word in your comment is "ALWAYS". I can agree that not all people always have "access" to every possible benefit of our country, but that statement is equally true to a lot Euro-American citizens too. You claim that people are closed minded to the plight of a certain segment of American society, maybe you are equally blinded by a preconceived view of the issue, Think about it.

shiftless88

This from the supporter of a President who claims everything is dark and scary?? Really, Rick?

matts853

👍🏻👍🏻Shifty

hayduke2

Hey Rick, it has also been said that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” E. Burke

Burgessdr

[thumbup]

matts853

👍🏻Hay.

Or for ostensibly intelligent people to blindly follow a lunatic into the abyss because of irrational fears and a closed mind.

pdl603

Greed, Mr. Blatchford his head is in a very dark place.

Burgessdr

[thumbup]

awteam2000

I’ve seen the other side of that “coin” with Trump. The same head is on both sides.

“Bad” on both sides. No moral values on one side, and incompetency on the other side. Both greatly flawed. Neither sides correct or prevent the bad. Only advocates for bad.

One of the encouraging things about our country is to flip the bad by admitting our wrongs, and working to do good, better going forward. No, it doesn’t erase the past, clearly a place we don’t want to go back to, but working to get better, going future.

bosco

Find a country that is more "great", publicize it, and maybe the millions of people who sneak into our great country will go elsewhere.

In the meantime, enjoy the benefits of living in a free country and work to make it better. As my grandmother used to ask, "what have you done to make the world a better place today"?

[ninja]

Burgessdr

Your position on making America "a better place today" with regard to systemic inequality is quite clear.

bosco

And your position on illegal immigration is now quite clear. Thank you. [thumbup][ninja]

Dwasserba

Oh, snap!

jsklinelga

Mr. Burgess,

Indirectly your letter's question answers itself. You have the freedom to openly criticize your country and your government. America became a great country when it formed a government and guaranteed this right.

"“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Burgessdr

You directly made your position known on the issue of systemic inequality by failing to acknowledge it.

shiftless88

jsk: Serious question. Do you think this is one of the only, or even few, countries where one can criticize their country or government?

Greg F

When? The racists would have you gaslighted to believe it was when whites were the dominant population and anyone not white was a lapdog or slave to them. We see this clearly in the right wing politics and especially in Agent Orange’s racist ramblings and the ramblings of his followers, who cling on the hope he will make ‘Murcia white again.

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