The Beautiful American Lie

This is about how the American Dream is a lie. I'm not really in any minorities, I just wanted to point all this stuff out.

By Ryan W. from Project Citizen in Connecticut


Somebody got the crazy idea to make a website about finding a new “American Creed”, whatever the heck that is. This would be the most nebulous concept since “mindfulness”, and “political correctness.” Giving a single creed to a nation housing 327 million people and encompassing over three and a half million square miles is about as easy as determining the meaning of life. I don’t have anything against these people, I just think their documentary is a bunch of meaningless fluff. Looking at the website, it’s pretty clear that there’s a consensus that’s agreed upon by the majority of people. The American Creed is that people can be free to pursue their aspirations, no matter who they are. The problem with this is that if people are going to take the time to achieve this dream, they might as well cure cancer, bring about world peace and set up a functioning dyson sphere while they’re at it. If you were to ask me what my American Creed was, it would be the belief that people should have equal opportunity and freedom regardless of background, but I doubt that it will ever happen.

Land of the Free? Not so fast...

The United States of America has never been the bastion of freedom it claims to be. In July of 2019, Donald Trump plans to give a speech celebrating the four hundredth anniversary of the first “American” laws, even though native americans had a complex system of law for thousands of years before, and black politicians, on the same day, are remembering the four hundredth anniversary of African slaves arriving in historic Jamestown, destined to have themselves and their families put to work for hundreds of years to come. But wait, that’s just the beginning. Everyone knows about slavery, and their historic liberation after the passing of the 13th Amendment. No, not the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. People know of that story, but many don’t know what happened after. The newly freed African-Americans had nowhere to go, and no way to pay the bills. Their old masters, now without the free labor with which they ran their plantations, offered positions in “share-cropping.” This consisted of the master giving the share-cropper a plot of land, seeds, tools, and a rudimentary home, and then the share-cropper would work the land, harvest the crops, and give most of it to the master. Ring any bells? It was as close to slavery as was legally allowed, and African-Americans often ended up in crippling debt to their masters, making them slaves in every way but name. The political world wasn’t much better, even though the 14th amendment ensured the same legal protection and citizenship as white Americans, and the 15th gave voting rights. The KKK began their reign of terror then, and threatened any black voters with death by lynching. Voting wasn’t the only thing African-Americans couldn’t do without fear of retaliation, any action that helped a black citizen could end in violence. The government itself began restricting black voting by imposing “poll taxes”, making the poverty-stricken black population unable to vote, and in addition to that, literacy tests were administered on the mostly illiterate African-American people. Black Codes, the precursor to the more well-known Jim Crow segregation policies, restricted the freedom of African-Americans, in ways such as restricting work besides becoming a farmer or servant. Punishments for “vagrancy” ranged from fines to forced plantation work. It eventually got repealed, but not long after the Jim Crow laws we all know and hate came to be. That was a thing until the civil rights movement, but twenty percent of the black population, compared to eight percent of the white population, still lives in poverty. I wouldn’t know, but the numbers don’t lie.

Treaties? What Treaties?

Black people aren’t the only ones screwed over by America, there’s also the Native Americans. It’s not a good sign when the first contact between two civilizations ended with one side almost dying out from disease, and that’s what happened when the White Man met the American Indian. It’s not politically incorrect to call them “American Indians”, there’s a museum in New York called the Museum of the American Indian. I went there. A little lesson in epidemiology, when you expose a less diseased population to a very diseased one, the less diseased one better have antibiotics, and if they don’t, say, because they won’t exist for another three hundred years or so, say your prayers. If you’ve ever read War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, you’ll get the picture. Smallpox swept through indigenous populations like fire in a California forest. This event, known by historians as “the great dying”, was so bad that it puts THE BLACK DEATH to shame, and that wiped out a third of Europe. If you were wondering how the pilgrims found a conveniently cleared and unpopulated section of land in Massachusetts, it was populated once, then the smallpox got to them. Speaking of the pilgrims, they weren’t the first white settlers in American, the colonies of Roanoke, which mysteriously went missing, and Jamestown came before it, and the only reason the latter didn’t die out was because illegal tobacco plants were smuggled there and it eventually led to the agricultural slave empire that I talked about earlier. Now back to the pilgrims, they ended up killing Native Americans and putting their heads on spikes, so much for that image everyone thinks of with the first thanksgiving. They also raided native graves and strapped dying settlers to trees in order to deceive Native Americans into thinking they had a constant village guard on duty.

Fast forward to 1830, and Mister Twenty Dollar Bill Himself, Andrew Jackson, is in office. His work as a general in the war of 1812, with his most important exploits at the battle of New Orleans, which was in 1815, thanks a lot historians. His determination in battle earned him the nickname “Old Hickory”, and I don’t know if it’s just me, or is it kind of funny that American generals with the last name Jackson get nicknames because they hold their ground, and if you’re wondering, I’m talking about Stonewall Jackson too. Andrew Jackson also fought in the Creek Wars, fighting the Native American tribe of the same name. This may have been the beginning of his hatred of Natives. Flash forward to his time as president, and he plans to pass the Indian Removal Act. It was an act that would force a number of tribes off their land, which they considered sacred, and force them to move to Oklahoma, a territory that was at this point uninhabited, away from white people. This was originally ruled to be unconstitutional, partially because there were a number of treaties already in place which gave Native Americans claim and sovereignty over their land, but of course Andrew Jackson didn’t care, and he did it anyway. He gave the Natives the ‘choice’ to move off their land, but if they refused he would resort to violence. This ended up in the infamous “Trail of Tears”, an event that Andrew Jackson himself described as such, “By persuasion and force they have been made to retire from river to river and from mountain to mountain, until some of the tribes have become extinct and others have left but remnants to preserve for a while their once terrible names. Surrounded by the whites with their arts of civilization, which by destroying the resources of the savage doom him to weakness and decay.” Four Thousand people died in this whole thing. This guy was pretty much American Hitler, and we have him on the twenty dollar bill. No wonder people want to replace him with anyone from Running Antelope to Harriet Tubman and even Donald Trump. I hate Trump as much as the next guy, but he’s got nothing on Jackson.

We’ve Got Enough Huddled Masses

If there’s anything more controversial in this day and age than Israel and abortion combined, it’s immigration. Some people are spending tens of billions of dollars on a WALL of all things, the worst defensive structure known to man. Need me to prove it? Berlin Wall, torn down after thirty years. Great Wall of China, breached by Genghis Khan. Keep in mind that up to forty percent of illegal immigrants come here by PLANE. Not just that, but the amount of illegal immigrants coming to the U.S. has gone DOWN in recent years. The worst part is that Donald Trump’s grandfather was an IMMIGRANT who came here from Germany, a heritage Donald has denied. Freidrich Trump must be rolling in his grave right now. Some people might object and say that this is fine because Trump is only opposed to illegals, and Fred came here legally, but what people don’t realize is that coming to the United States was much simpler back in the day. Not easier, but with less red tape. Before the building of Ellis Island, American policy regarding immigration was highly relaxed, only excluding the Chinese, criminals, prostitutes, ‘lunatics’, and ‘idiots’, which were both legitimate medical terms at the time. When Ellis Island was built on January First, 1892, to process the oncoming tide of southern and eastern Europeans, immigrants had to go through rigorous legal and medical tests, often resulting in detention or outright deportation, but after that, there wasn’t much in the way of questions of legality. Of course, there was intense racism, poverty, child labor, etc. If you want an idea of this stuff, look up How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis. After that, a good portion of immigrants achieve the ‘American Dream’, even though it usually takes several generations to do it.

Everything was going good until 1921 when everything went to hell. To understand why everything went to hell, we’re gonna have to go into the history of eugenics. You must be thinking, but eugenics was a thing that happened in Nazi Germany, and I say to you, fair reader, the Nazis got the idea from us. It started out as a niche scientific movement started out by biologist Charles Davenport and psychologist Henry H. Goddard. Davenport’s pipe dream of a better human race led him to work with Goddard cataloging heredity in a very pseudoscientific fashion. In their research, they came to the ludicrous conclusion that ‘feeble-mindedness’, the intentionally vague blanket term for stupidity, criminality, and other things, was hereditary. Goddard tried to show this in one of his books, The Kallikak Family, that tells a what if story about a man during the revolutionary war that hooks up with a tavern girl, and then tells the story of what would happen if he got married to a woman Goddard thinks would be a more valuable citizen. The first scenario results in generation upon generation of delinquent and dysfunctional individuals, and the latter results in a long and proud lineage of model citizens. This type of genetics is entirely unscientific as well as incorrect, and masses of perfectly normal people were institutionalized because they were considered “morons.” This culminated in mass sterilization, most of which were forced. Time passed, and with any science, racists got their hands on it. Eugenicists, most of them white, straight, protestant males, saw African-Americans and the oncoming immigrants as a threat to white purity. They thought that older races, mostly black people, as less evolved and therefore inferior. Many saw the “Nordic” race, known to most people as Aryans, as the pinnacle of Darwinism. You’re starting to see how this inspired the Nazis, aren’t you?

Now this is the moment where it all went to hell. The year is 1921, eugenics is the hot new fad, the government is tired of immigrants. Then, the Emergency Quota Act was passed. Now, the government blocks people from countries they consider undesirable, a large portion of which are eastern european jews trying to escape persecution. This sounds bad now, but consider that Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank, tried to get his family out of Europe before the Nazi party could get to them, only to be denied entry. Anne Frank and most of her family died gruesome deaths because the United States had already filled their annual quota for that part of Europe. So when people said the U.S. government has always welcomed immigrants who came in legally, think again.

In conclusion, the U.S. has never been equal, and the chances of it becoming so in the near future are impossibly slim. The point of this entire “American Creed” project is to assign a set of beliefs and values to a set of people that are too diverse to be united.

Project Citizen

Project Citizen '19

Project Citizen is a youth writing lab that is offered as part of the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University. The mission of Project Citizen is to empower young writers to engage in issues of social and political importance through a variety of genres in order to both find their voice and to become fully realized citizens in our democracy. Project Citizen brings together students from school districts and towns in Fairfield county that represent a variety of economic, racial, ethnic, and religious demographic groups in an effort to break down the "zip code apartheid" that stands in the way of true collaborative learning.

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Writing Our Future: American Creed is part of the National Writing Project’s family of youth publishing projects, all gathered under the Writing Our Future initiative.

Writing Our Future projects are designed by educators for educators and the young people they work with. Intended for use in schools, libraries, and other educational settings. All projects are COPPA compliant and educator-managed. NWP is committed to supporting young people’s writing and civic participation by providing a safe and supportive environment for youth writing, media creation, sharing, and publishing.