“If there is a country in the world, where concord, according to common calculation, would be least expected, it is America. Made up, as it is, of people from different nations, accustomed to different forms and habits of government, speaking different languages, and more different in their modes of worship, it would appear that the union of such a people was impracticable; but by the simple operation of constructing government on the principles of society and the rights of man, every difficulty retires, and all the parts are brought into cordial unison. There, the poor are not oppressed, the rich are not privileged… Their taxes are few, because their government is just; and as there is nothing to render them wretched, there is nothing to engender riots and tumults.”
Says Thomas Paine in his highly respected Rights of Man (1791).
My question is, to what extent does Paine’s characterization of America holds true today?
Imagine yourself, living in harmony with all others from different backgrounds. What would it be like to disregard the superficial notion of ethnicity and conglomeration of achieving a concerted view? Paine writes, as America has a well established, firm government that maintains a powerful stronghold by utilizing highly influential political assets such as laws and political unions, Americans seem to care less about the wide diversity in their population, which creates unison.
Well the question is, is America still what it is from Thomas Paine’s intellectually persuasive description of America? America DOES have union and DOES still maintains that patriotic value that existed for so long, but we do have to keep in mind that this observance is only so superficial.
We need to look into Paine’s divine notion with profundity because his characterization of America here does not live up to its values today. There are so many issues that well address the undermining cause of Paine’s statement, if applied to contemporary realm, such as White American cops inhumanely treating black Americans with African or even African American descent.
Pain’s view must be revisited.
In July, Sandra Black (a black American) died in police custody which skyrocketed the degree of concern of this particular issue that highly epitomizes the essence of racial discrimination. Sandra Bland, according to New York Times, was inhumanely discriminated when a police officer yanked her out of her car for violating minor traffic protocol.
Paine’s belief of having a concerted view regardless of ethnicity proves to be wrong. If Paine’s superficial view of America is to be clearly reflected in the contemporary American society, there should be no racial stereotypes and discrimination whatsoever.
“The government is just”, says Thomas Paine, but why are the political authorities pertaining to this particular controversy of Bland’s death trying to conceal this distressing death of a women who died in police custody?
As Thomas Paine explicitly stated, America is a strong, unified nation that “there is nothing to engender riots and tumults”. This haven-like view of America can only be viewed from neglectful standpoint. Just like case of Sandra Bland, Michael Brown expounds upon the issue of not just an un-unified nation, but also a government that is not just. Michael Brown, a black American teenager, was found shot last year in 2014.
The government did acknowledge the fact that he was shot by a police officer whose impulsive action simply derived from fear that Brown was armed. This evidence not only expounds upon how racial stereotype could exemplify a nation that is NOT yet “concord”, but also expounds upon how government is unjust in certain ways. Yes, the government did acknowledge Brown’s death as a police’s murder, but the authorities are still concealing his name from the public. Paine wrote that “there is nothing to engender riots and tumults”, but this view ridicules the contemporary society’s ability to protest and remonstrate through social media. Both Bland and Brown’s death led to a widespread societal and online remonstrances.
Paine’s confined belief cannot withstand the severity of contemporary issue of how racial discrimination leads to disintegration and only proves that America is no way near a society with peace, tranquility, and unification. Is America still an ethnic haven, a sanctuary that provides people security and assurance? Paine asserts that America is in fact a sanctuary that does not “engender riots and tumults”, but in fact he is self-deprecating his well established idea of stating “all the parts… brought into cordial”. His assertion of unification in terms of ethnicity proves to be a superficially simplified view of America.
Bland and Brown’s death does not only exemplify racial discrimination, but also proves Paine’s overly distorted view wrong. Because of these conflicts and tumults, American contemporary society engenders riots and protests. Because of a fixed racially discriminating mind of many people America, people still go through such controversies. Paine’s characterization of America is that of a child who has been simply categorizing two opposing views of good and evil. A child without any sophisticated knowledge may simply call a man who was shot at as a victim, hence a good person.
However, what if the man who was shot at killed the other man’s wife? That’s what Paine asserts. Paine’s overly simplified superficial view of America proves to be wrong as contemporary issues towards racism and remonstrance are visited.
In the end, Thomas Paine was only a child who simply categorized America as a good man.