A Special Kind of “Freedom”

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

In 23 years of living in the US, I never really “warmed up” to the American culture of life. The closest I came to supporting America in recent years was related to the US women’s soccer team – and not only because of their enthusiastic play, but also how civilized they behaved off the field, especially when it came to showing true character by unitedly rejecting the visit to the White House, where a perverted buffoon was president.

Unfortunately, this nation is not as united in its sanity and a responsible-minded, true devotion to the Fatherland as this outstanding soccer team.

The sometimes unnerving American bluster about freedom can certainly correspond to an individual’s view of things – or to a widespread self-deception. Americans obviously have to stress over and over again how free they are because in reality they are unfree, and they are unfree because there is no basic guarantee of fair wages in their country, much less of universal health care affordable to everyone.

How can people call their country a free country when the vast majority of their own population does not even have the freedom to not have to constantly worry about the essentials of life that define a true and just democracy?

Critical Race Theory: The Paradox is DeSantis

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

At the instigation of Governor Ron DeSantis, the State Board of Education has banned Critical Race Theory from public classrooms in Florida. Instead of dealing with the unpleasant things of the past, he wants to confront students “with [his and his kind’s] facts rather than trying to indoctrinate them with ideology.” Is the man afraid that American schoolchildren might know too much, ask awkward questions, or even end up becoming Marxists? It is preposterous.

From the historic standpoint, it is hard to deny that the United States of America was built on the oppression of others. From the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, only one never owned a slave (John Adams). Writes US-Historian Edmund S. Morgan: “To a large degree, it may be said that Americans bought their independence with slave labor… The paradox is American, and it behooves Americans to understand it if they would understand themselves”.1

Morgan also wrote: “For the historian it poses a challenge to probe the connection: to explain how a people could have developed the dedication to human liberty and dignity exhibited by the leaders of the American Revolution, and at the same time have developed and maintained a system of labor that denied human liberty and dignity every hour of the day.”2

Twelve Nazi years of my native Germany have profoundly damaged our history forever, and in school it became the core of our consciousness – the unimaginable atrocities committed in the German name. The nation of inventors, innovation, poets and thinkers. Should the Germans remain the only nation today to thoroughly come to terms with their past? 3

Of course, remembrance and admonition of evil must nowhere take a back seat – we owe that to the victims, no matter which country it concerns.

Racism is an unpleasant topic and does not lend itself to desired images. Yet, righteous Americans must be careful, not least in light of what continues to happen in their country, that they and their own history are not completely muzzled. Florida’s Governor is one of those dangerous, power-obsessed demagogues who want to distort facts in order to make their own people compliant under the guise of a misconceived patriotism. This no longer has anything to do with freedom and democracy – it only deepens the division of American society.

Notes:

[1] See Edmund S. Morgan: American Slavery, American Freedom, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1975, pg. 5.

[2] ibid.

[3] For the sake of historical-political truth, it must be mentioned here that one of the main interests of the communist leadership in East Germany (GDR) was to address the crimes of the Nazi regime down to the smallest detail. After all, Nazis and Communists had been ideological mortal enemies since the Weimar Republic. In contrast, in the other part of Germany – the Federal Republic – the society struggled of coping with German Nazi history until the 1970s, not least in public schools.