I have read some real garbage about equality in the USA today, not least at "The Lead" where this diatribe by Janie Stevens was posted.

"In the more than 200 years since the Declaration of Independence, our nation has come a long way in fulfilling the bold vision set forth by the founding fathers for a nation in which all people are created equal. It continues to be a model for freedom around the world. We have been and continue to be the envy of many. Our freedom and equality are very special gifts, to be celebrated, honored and treasured. On this day we remember John Adams’ hope that we celebrate with all our heart with cookouts, barbecues, parades, fireworks, prayers, speeches that help us remember our story on this great anniversary festival."

It appears that many Americans believe that equality is a thing, in the same way that apple pie is a thing. But it is not a thing it is an attribute which has to be connected to a thing, such as healthcare, in order to have any relevance. To state that Americans enjoy equality means nothing unless it is also stated what the thing is that they are equal in. When you do that it becomes obvious that Americans enjoy a fair amount of equality in certain things but very little equality in others. Ironically, it is equality in certain things, for example the opportunity to amass personal wealth, that creates inequality in other areas, for example healthcare. In fact, Americans have a hierarchy of equalities and freedoms where freedom usually trumps equality. True wealth equality would involve every citizen having exactly the same amount of wealth. But Americans place the freedom to own more than other people above all calls for a truly equal society. Freedom is also placed above the wellbeing of the individual. I know of no other country where lying and defamation by anybody, and not just the government, are tolerated, accepted and celebrated as much as they are in the U.S.A. What has happened is that unbridled freedom and unequal wealth has created a situation where those with access to the media are far more equal than everybody else and can inflict harm on others without fear of being taken to task over it. That the injured parties are not in a position to defend themselves, usually because of a lack of wealth, shows an inherent inequality in American society far greater, for example, than the citizens of the rule encumbered United Kingdom. 

It seems to me that equality in the U.S.A. is all about possibility rather than reality. Everybody having the chance to become rich being seen as a much more important equality than everybody, without exception, being rich, or even having enough money to live on.

Is the U.S.A. envied throughout the world? I would suggest that it is but not as much as Americans would like to think it is. I very much doubt that a Swede would move to the U.S.A. for the equality or a French person for the freedom. My guess is that those who want to emigrate to the U.S.A., legally or otherwise, are after the money, after the dream, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the American dream is all about the individual and damn the rest. And what is the point of equality in the land of me?


U.S. OR JUST US? — 7 Comments

  1. Gee,When you put it that way, our glorious fourth doesn’t seem so glorious. I wish I could find an incontrovertible rebuttal, but there is enough truth here to leave a crack in any counterattack. I guess we have to say that we mean well, but rarely live up to our meaning (Maybe we are a Christian nation after all.)

    • This is not an attack on America, a country from which most of what I love most in life comes from. It’s an attack on an incorrect understanding and use of the word “equality” and an arrogance that annoys the heck out of the rest of us (yes, I know we used to be that arrogant but we learned not to be and that is my hope for the USA). Do you know what you are better at than everybody else? Making music and cinema and writing crime novels and loads of great stuff that gives us all loads of enjoyment. Boast about that if you must boast because it’s real. Don’t boast about your unsurpassed equality and freedom because it’s a myth like the English myth that we are a nation of animal lovers when we are, in fact, one of the greatest abusers of animals in the world.

  2. Uh, MP – I think the “equality” may relate to the idea that one citizen in our country is equal under the law. And the fact that we do not allow royal or nobel titles. lords and ladies, kings and queens are out over here and therein lies our “equality” – we have “celebraties instead and anyone can aspire to be one. Equal opportunity.

    • Equal opportunity? I don’t think so.
      Equal under the law – so are we and have been for a lot longer than black Americans and native Americans.
      And once again I remind my American friends that we live in the 21st. Century over here in Europe. We are run by politicians and big industry (mostly big industry) just like you. It has been a very long time since any European monarch had any say in the running of any European country. And, although I hate the honours system, anybody in Britain can aspire to be a Lord or Lady and many of them nowadays are former celebraties, like Dame Judi Dench. And we don’t even televise our honours ceremonies like the Americans televise theirs which I believe they call Oscars.

  3. Ah, THERE you are! It just wouldn’t be 4 July w/o Crazy @rse of Our Former Colonial Overlord dissing us/U.S.! Another Independence Day tradition…

    Now, soon to enjoy fireworks: don’t forget to diss us for THAT too!


  4. Excellent considerations, MP, and well put. I celebrate an ideal we have never lived up to… but I refuse to dismiss it because it keeps calling us to do better.