The United States believes it has the cornerstone of human rights within its borders. But our past and present shows a different picture, a history full of human rights violations, that go back to the beginning of our history. In our past you can find many Holocausts of hatred and oppression. But we seem to forget somehow, through patriotic and religious zeal, how this country truly began, and how we have treated our own citizens throughout our existence. If you read some books, newspaper articles and editorials today you will find a rewriting of our past, a total fiction, which somehow history has magically changed into a fantasy; a mythical tale, full of lies and colorful trappings. Our educational systems also rewrites history in favor of a Disney styled world, where everything is perfect. But history cannot be changed to fit one’s need to feel superior, neither can false patriotism and religious beliefs change history, and the fact that human ignorance, bigotry, and hatred has been a part of American culture all along.
When the white Europeans came to the New World, they viewed the Native Americans as just savages, animals, needing to be saved by European culture and Christianity. They believed that it was a God-given duty to convert or murder the natives. Ignoring the fact that these were human beings like themselves, who already had rich cultures with many religious beliefs that had existed for thousands of years, they were not savages in any way. This began years of genocidal acts against the Native Americans, by forced conversions, massacres, and concentration camps. In fact Adolf Hitler, the head of the Nazi Party in Germany, fashioned his death camps after what we call Indian reservations. Today much of Native American culture is forgotten, even to its people. Many live in poverty and are treated with little or no respect by their white neighbors. Most white Americans have little knowledge of Native Americans or their culture, and many still view them with total ignorance.
The owning of African slaves is another part of our history that is at times forgotten or excused. These human beings that were violently kidnapped from their own part of the world were sold into a nightmare. The greed of slave traders, and the laziness and racism of slave owners fueled the slave trade. When talking about the founding fathers of the United States, we speak of how heroic and wise they were, but never mention that they were slave owners and supported slavery, just like the rest of white culture at the time, especially in the southern states. The Confederate South, also called the Bible Belt, fought the north for the right to keep owning their slaves. They used Christian doctrine to verify the right to own another person. Austin Cline states; “The primary focus of those using Christianity to defend slavery and segregation was the story of Noah, specifically the part where his son Ham is cursed to serve his bothers. This story long functioned as a model for Christians to insist that God meant Africans to be marked as servants of others because they are descended from Ham. Secondary was the story of the Tower of Babel as a model for God’s desire to separated people generally rather than have them united in common cause and purpose.” Web Essay: Christianity in the Confederate South: Southern Nationalism and Christianity (2007).This idea was a total twisting of what is really said in the Tanach (the Hebrew Bible.)
After the Confederate South lost the Civil War to the north, things did not improve for the freed slaves. They were treated as threats to white culture; many feared that they would get equal rights to whites and racially mixing. They were hunted down, tortured, and murdered without one thought of their humanity. Around this time America’s first home grown terrorist group was founded. In 1866 the Klu Klux Klan was formed by Confederate veterans of the Civil War in Pulaski, Tennessee, angered because of the ending of slavery. The far-right Christian Klu Klux Klan started a history of ethnic and racial hatred and violence throughout the American South, causing other hate groups to slowly form across the South and the country. Cline states: “Although the South lost the Civil War, White Supremacy remained an important component of Christian teaching for the next century. White Christian churches taught that slavery was a just institution, as were Jim Crow laws and segregation; that white Christianity remained the last, best hope for western civilization; and that white Christians had a mandate to exercise dominion over the world — and especially the darker races who were little more than children” Web Essay: Christianity in the Confederate South: Southern Nationalism and Christianity (2007). Southerners supported politicians and other legal systems that guaranteed total segregation of the races. They did not want to share any public arena with their black neighbors, strongly enforcing Jim Crow laws. If you were black you had separate bathrooms, drinking fountains, parks, schools, and other public areas. You could not eat in restaurants with your white neighbor, or enter places of business through the same entrance. Jews and other minorities were also targets of the Klu Klux Klan’s violence. The United States government did little to change this, viewing it was a state’s right to choose their laws. Sadly, a lot of those in Washington D.C. agreed with the white supremacists.
Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, lynched in Marion, Indiana on August 7, 1930.
Martin Luther King Jr. and his freedom fighters and other people like them made great change in the American South and the rest of America. King and many people like him died for these changes. But there is more work to be done. Today, the United States has many hate groups around the country; the KKK, Aryan Nations (the Church of Jesus Christ Christian), the American Nazi Party, National Association for the Advancement of White People, (founded by former KKK leader David Duke), and many others. Their objects of hate are African-Americans, Jews, liberal Christians, gays and lesbians, immigrants, and many other minorities. These hate groups hide behind the American Constitution, false interpretation of religious doctrine, and twisted patriotism. Their members are active in our communities, politics and legal systems. Can we have true justice for all? When we still let these terrorist groups exist within are borders. When they have done the very things that terrorist around the world have. That is a question that can only be answered by “no”. Martin Luther King Jr. said;“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” Martin Luther King JR., Essay: Letters from Birmingham Jail.