I recently attended a lecture on the human rights violations at various US detention sites including Abu Ghraib and Guatanamo Bay. The speaker made it a point to say that these events marked the loss of America’s moral compass to the international world. I found the statement strange as I have never seen the United States as the moral compass of the world. Who in this world do we turn to when we seek moral and honest leadership? Has it really been the United States of America? I find that hard to believe although I do understand the role the United States played in the Nuremberg trials. I guess that highlights America’s ability to bring about a world of peace and justice.
The current administration’s “War on Terror” has resulted in the violation of human rights of people suspected to be terrorists. We call cruel and inhumane treatment “coercive interrogation” and we the people have become ambivalent towards these acts of torture. The victims are terrorists right and we need to protect ourselves don’t we?! We’ve turned a blind eye to the over-extension of presidential powers in what we call a democratic country. So I guess, one can assume that if a democratic country can do all this, then what is to prevent another country without the checks and balances of democracy from violating the human rights of other people?
But long before the “war on terror”, there was the “peculiar institution” also known as the “necessary evil” which of course refers to American slavery. Maybe it’s because I am Black, but never in my mind have I equaled the America of slavery, nor the America of Jim Crow as a country with a moral, just, and honest government. Or, maybe it’s just me.
We call the United States of America the greatest power in the world. But it hardly has the greatest military strength (China is catching up fast), it obviously doesn’t have the greatest currency today, nor the smartest people, nor the best quality of life nor health, nor the best trade deficit.
What this bastion of capitalism has going is democracy and even this is being challenged. Only for this reason can I see why countless people are worried about America’s moral compass and are expressing their fear of America the superpower loosing its hold on the world.