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Only In America
In light of this country’s recent celebration of Emancipation, this column is an open commentary for the attention of the United States Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago so that the message can be relayed where it matters.
• Only in America can a President like Barack Obama hunt down and kill the world’s most wanted terrorist and the mastermind of the greatest terrorist attack in history, and yet be still fighting for his electoral survival.
• Only in America can you have the world’s number one golfer for years, who still does not get the acknowledgment and respect of a true red-blooded American. Instead, you have American commentators who have repeatedly tried in the past to take the lustre off his achievements and almost rejoice in his fall from grace a few years ago.
• Only in America can Venus and Serena Williams be, for more than a decade consistently, the most successful American players on the ATP tour and at Grand Slam events, with Americans at times rooting for their opponents and saying they are so big and strong that they have an unfair advantage. Imagine Venus had to remark last week at the US Open that when she heard the home crowd chanting for her, it was the first time that she felt like an American. Only in America.
Remember for the first seven or eight years of their careers the American commentators would pointedly and repeatedly refer to both Venus and Serena as “African-Americans”, as if this was some sort of different category as distinct from “Americans”. So they weren’t the Americans on the court playing for their country, they were the “African-Americans” who happened to be playing for the USA.
• Only in America, a non-entity and a nobody like Sarah Palin could have been put up four years ago to supposedly represent a serious challenge to Barack Obama. Fast forward to 2012 when Ryan, despite all the hype, fluff and PR about his athleticism, hunting and eloquence, brings nothing of real value to the table other than the fact that he is supposed to represent what the idealised and stylised picture of what a real true red-blooded American is supposed to be like.
• Only in America could gymnast Gabby Douglas score gold at the olympics in scintillating fashion and yet have to be defending herself against critics who found she did not meet their mental picture of an American sweetheart. No matter that she won gold and brought fame and glory to the country, she was not given the accolades, praise and esteem which America normally gives its gymnastic heroes. No matter that Dominique Dawes opened that door since 1996, in 2012 Gabby not only has to win but has to justify why she should be an American sweetheart.
• Only in America could there be sports such as lacrosse, water polo, Nascar, ice hockey and so many others where it is almost accepted and understood that there is a glass shield around them protecting them from widespread ethnically diverse participation as competitors.
• On the other hand, only in America could there be an abundance of so many opportunities for Afro-Americans, and so many of them are content to just sit back and squander them and not capitalise on them.
• Again on the other hand, only in America could you have a group making up so large a segment of the population in numbers, and yet having such miniscule economic net worth or financial strength.
• Again, it is only in America that you could have one sitting president such as Dubaya— wreck the country and the economy for years—and get little or no castigation for it, and then you blame his successor for not fixing it quickly enough.
• Only in America could you have groups such as the Klu Klux Klan, the skinheads and the far right wing extremists who have openly racist and discriminatory agendas, be aligned, whether loosely or not, to the tea party movement and that such a grouping or idea would gain traction on the political landscape.
Yet despite all its flaws, its failings and its shortcomings, and despite the fact that it can still learn a lot from Trinidad and Tobago in relation to the concept of Emancipation, it still remains the brightest spark and the greatest hope for realising, living and maximising the Emancipation ideal. It can be the worst of times and yet the best of times...Only in America.
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