I often note on my personal blog the vast difference between what the USA claims to stand for - especially in terms of religious freedom - versus the sad reality of what citizens actually experience. Indeed, I wonder at times when the rest of the world is going to seriously take note that the USA is not the promised land that it likes to depict itself to be.
Religious based prejudice against gays and non-Christians is rampant. Racial discrimination against blacks, Hispanics, and other non-whites is pervasive. And in terms of social mobility, recent studies have shown that it is becoming easier to move up socially and financially in other nations than in the USA.
Yet demagogues and others continue to pretend that the USA is special or "blessed by God" - as if God favors one nation over another, at least absent a maniacal regime such as the Nazis. Do not get me wrong, I am not anti-American. I just wish we'd see more honest analysis of the true state of this country.
Now, Glenn Greenwald has picked up on this phenomenon in a piece at Salon. Would that more Americans would recognize the continuing disconnect between what the USA claims it is and the reality - and move to correct it.
Here are some column highlights:
Argentina [Thursday] yesterday became the latest country to grant full and equal legal rights to its gay citizens, as the nation's Senate followed the lower house in approving a bill to recognize same-sex marriages. Because President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has vigorously advocated for the bill, it is now certain to become law.
Argentina is a country with a fairly recent history of dictatorships, an overwhelmingly Catholic population (at least in name), and pervasive social conservatism, with extreme restrictions on abortion rights similar to those found on much of the continent. The Catholic Church in Argentina vehemently opposed the enactment of this law. But no matter. Ending discrimination against same-sex couples is understood as a matter of basic equality, not social progressivism, and it thus commands widespread support.
The contrast with the U.S. is quite instructive and depressing. Not only is the U.S. not close to nationally recognizing same-sex marriage, but we have a law -- the Defense of Marriage Act -- that explicitly bars the granting of any and all federal spousal rights whatsoever (including immigration rights) to same-sex couples. Despite the election of a President who campaigned on a pledge to overturn that law, and overwhelming Democratic control of Congress, repeal of that law isn't even on the table.
Virtually no national politician in the U.S. is even willing to advocate same-sex marriage, and those who advocate granting equal rights as part of "civil unions" refuse to take any real steps to bring that about.
It's worthwhile now and then to take stock of the vast disparity between how we like to think of ourselves and reality. When a country with Argentina's history and background becomes but the latest country to legally recognize same-sex marriage -- largely as the result of a population which demanded it -- that disparity becomes quite clear.
"Old Europe" and now Argentina are embracing equality and modernity. Meanwhile, in the USA - once a nation of progressiveness and modernity compared to others - the forces of reaction and theocracy seem to sadly be gaining more sway, not less. How far will America fall behind the rest of the world before we wake up and realize that this country is a sham in many ways compared to what it advertises itself to be?