Dok: United States must practice what it preaches

Akol Dok

As an immigrant from South Sudan, I always thought the United States represented freedom, democracy, education and opportunity — qualities I want for myself and my home nation.

The United States has propelled itself to the top nation in the world, but it has not always stood by the principles it advertises.

Historically, freedom wasn’t guaranteed to U.S. citizens. It took 80 years — from 1783 to 1865 — for the United States to attempt to correct its subhuman bondage of blacks.

Yet after many attempts in both the courts and by lawmakers to create true freedom for all, African-Americans continue to fight for their right to be first-class citizens 150 years after Congress supposedly did that legally.

Brutal discrimination was seen during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, but it has been resurrected today with police brutality, mass incarceration of blacks and officials ignoring protesters asking for basic human rights. And, while the United States was still perpetuating unconstitutional second-class citizenship for its citizens, it proudly went to Europe during the World Wars as liberators with the intention of freeing oppressed people but continued to oppress within its borders.

Until President Harry Truman’s executive order, blacks were discriminated against in the military. African-Americans faced the most severe form of discrimination, but other ethnic groups were victims of the hypocrisy of American freedom.

Japanese Americans were deprived of their 14th Amendment due process rights when put in internment camps. The Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional for the United States to detain them due to national security.

Does this mean the United States had a vested national security interest though? The Office of Naval Intelligence released a report indicating no real evidence Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans presented any threat. Japanese women, children and men were all detained by the U.S. government while the U.S. military liberated Europe.

America has always been the international leader, but it breached its democratic values. The United States has been responsible for multiple covert operations overthrowing democratically elected world leaders.

The United States assisted with the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the democratically elected leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa.

Former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had a share in a company in Guatemala, and, when then-President Jacob Guzman policies hurt the company’s business, he was overthrown. Dulles, along with his brother, Allen Dulles, director of the CIA, orchestrated the coup and set up a brutal dictator.

America has set up dictators and brutal regimes contrary to “democracy.” I don’t think a nation that conducts elections and has a functioning government would appreciate foreign actors intruding on its own domestic affairs.

So why does the United States do it to others? What gives America the right to decide what leaders stay or go? That’s not democracy, that’s imperialism.

When America liberated Europe after World War II, it continued to allow the British and French to have colonies in Africa and Asia. The French, who were under Nazi occupation, continued to brutally oppress African nations until the 1960s.

I believe America can set a great example for the world because of the long way it has come from its founding. Hypocrisy exists, but this nation need not fall into that category. There was no national security issue at stake, and most external interventions have no just cause.

America has no excuse because it isn’t like developing nations. It must be the leaders of freedom and stand by democracy even when it disagrees with other country’s leaders.

In recent years, former President George Bush and President Barack Obama have been responsible for unjust interventions that have created a power vacuum in regions resulting in the rise of terror groups. 

Democracy is a process, and nations must learn it at their own paces. America must promote progress and encourage extensive practice to perfect governmental practices. The American Congress has been unproductive, and the executive branch oversteps its powers; I don’t think they have room to tell another nation how to run its government.

These issues are occurring today, from the Supreme Court rejection of citizens who claim habeas corpus while detained in Guantanamo Bay to presidential candidates proposing anti­-Muslim rhetoric to the American-led bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital, killing 30 people on “accident.”

What’s the excuse? There isn’t one. National security is the only option, but national security can’t be proactive in other national affairs. America has progressed, but its concept of freedom doesn’t apply to the entire globe.

The freedom America stands for is limited to a select few, and the rest continue to be oppressed by the wrath of American imperialism.

America must continue to stand up for freedom and keep granting freedom and liberty to all, regardless of any demographic. America loses credibility when it stands for freedom but, at the same time, is responsible for depriving freedom.

Nations must not be tolerant of others but understanding. One must try to understand what is going on with another before making an irrational decision.

The American freedom I came to this country for must be upheld and not deprived from people but granted to them.