“Freedom,” Albert Camus pointed out, “is nothing else but a chance to be better.” For 234 years, America has strived, fought, invented, pushed, pulled and dragged itself towards the better. Fortune was keen to enumerate the progress. Through all ups and downs American were united in the end.
While on one hand America has witnessed brightest of the days on the other hand it has few dark days in its history. I was reading a very interesting thread on Quora about Darkest moment in American History and here are few of the points which I liked:
Andrew Marks, recovering political junkie said:
The darkest moment might not have been the most “evil” in itself, but it spawned more evil and division than almost any other. It occurred when the Founding Fathers decided not to resolve the issue of slavery at the Constitutional Convention. Instead, they compromised and postponed its resolution for future generations. This decision led to more conflict and injustice than almost any other in American history.
As a practical matter, this compromise manifested itself in several ways. First, the Constitution banned the African overseas slave trade, but only after thirty years. Second, it set up a system that counted slaves, for electoral purposes, as three-fifths of a person each, a seemingly arbitrary number.
But from a broader perspective, the failure of the Fathers to devise a solution to the issue while the country was young allowed the institution to become deeply entrenched in Southern society, and allowed the South’s economic system to become dependent on slavery. Thus, besides the inherent evil of allowing a crime against humanity to continue on American soil, this compromise inevitably doomed the United States to future conflict. It led directly to the cataclysmic violence of the Civil War, which killed 620,000 Americans (more than any other war); it led to Jim Crow, lynching, and 100 years of oppression; it led to years of struggle and hardship through the Civil Rights movement; it led to years of official and private discrimination; it has arguably led to continued racial tension and disparity today.
Pretty much our darkest hour.
I’d argue the point when South Carolina seceded from the United States. It was the culmination of decades of animosity and political conflict over the slavery issue, and represented the point when the fissures separating the slave society of the South from the northern and western states exploded into a divide leading to the deadliest war in American history
Neil Russo, a opinionated conservative said:
For me it was forcing Japanese and Japanese Americans into special War Relocation Camps (internment camps) after the bombings at Pearl Harbor. My government didn’t only force internment on Japanese who were here in the United States but also on those they kidnapped from Mexico and South America
It was the period immediately after 9/11, when the Bush administration, led by Dick Cheney, chose to take the low road in the war on terrorism, creating the monstrous bureaucracy called the Department of Homeland Security in their so-called Global War on Terror, passed the Patriot Act I and II, which vastly expanded the powers of the federal government at the expense of the rights of individual Americans, and did it all without a peep from Congress.
In addition, the US chose to invade two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, incurring not only death and injuries among Americans, but also causing untold suffering for the nationals of those countries. And this was all done with supplementary budgets, throwing the US into fiscal crisis. In addition, under President Obama, the US has embarked on a policy of attacking Pakistani villages and suspects with armed drones, causing civilian casualties and a backlash against the US among Pakistanis.
While the US did suffer from injustices against African-Americans, native Americans and Japanese Americans in the past, the infringement of rights in the name of the war on terror, and the creation of a vast new bureaucracy at a time when the US has chosen to cut taxes while invading two other sovereign nations is something which is unheard of in world history. The fact that both Democrats and Republicans have chosen to accept these measures without dissent or complaint shows that Americans have forgotten about past injustices including the Trail of Tears, Jim Crow and the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, and for all practical purposes, that is just so much empty talk.
In the name of this so-called Global War on Terror, huge expenses have been created, expenses which Americans can’t afford! Not only have Americans lost their right to privacy, but they have gone bankrupt. In addition, large numbers of American military have been sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. These military incursions somehow strangely morphed into military occupations, creating strong resentment for Americans among the local populations. This has had a detrimental effect on the US troops, and many have committed suicide, while others have returned to the US with severe injuries and mental trauma which require prolonged care which we are not financially able to provide. And all of this has happened with a minimum of protest from any politicians, out of fear that they may be criticized for being unpatriotic. This is a very cheap form of patriotism which sinks to the lowest common denominator.
At the same time, the US is in a very dark period in its economy, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and the nation’s infrastructure is crumbling. The public school system is a joke, and Americans continue in their blind belief that a system which has systematically cheated them will somehow save them. How dumb can they get? Instead of the ideals which made America great: hard work, learning, a belief in science and progress and family, most Americans practice laziness, more laziness, an endless and very tiring discussion about religion and “values” and lazy individualism, in which you can do anything you want, but if something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault.
Then there is the issue of the Sept. 2008 meltdown, where the subprime mortgage market melted, and the banks were only able to survive thanks to a bailout from the federal government, which was really taxpayers’ money. However, the American economy has continued to worsen and the job situation has worsened, even though it is nearly three years later. The financialization of the American economy continues, with the only people making bonuses being the financial sector. For the large part, Wall St has succeeded as a killing machine, killing jobs for Americans.
And who has been punished for causing these job losses after losing taxpayers’ money? Aside from Bernie Madoff, no one.
So what is the darkest period in US history? Evil is always dark, how many shades darker really doesn’t matter but that was an interesting discussion. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did.
Do share your views.