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27.5.16

Truth In Advertising

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Earlier this week, there was a brief storm of controversy over a young woman named Krystal Lake, who worked (I use the simple past advisedly) at a Home Depot in New York state.  She had the unbridled audacity to make and wear a ball cap which read, "America Was Never Great."

Well, as you can imagine, especially in the current political environment in America right now, this set off a Twitter War of unrestrained jingoism and bashing that left the poor girl fearing for her life.

Yet, she posed a very good question, and one that still doesn't have a good answer, especially in the wake of how this girl was treated by the public at large.  Certainly, it wasn't free speech that made America great.

The question is, "When exactly was America great in the first place?"  I mean, after all, Donald Trump is having significant success running on a slogan of "Make American Great AGAIN."  It begs the question, for which the neither the candidate nor his supporters seem to have an answer.  It's one of those dangling assertions that everyone assumes is true, but no one can point to a specific fact that proves the case.

Was America great during the financial collapse and endless wars of the past two decades?  How about during the 1990s, when the husband of one presidential candidate was abusing White House interns with cigars?

Was America great during the 1980s, when greed took over the Western World?  Perhaps the hedonistic 1970s, when polyester leisure suits and all-night parties with piles of Bolivian Marching Powder were the rage?  Perhaps America was great during the 1960s, when a number of high-profile folks were murders and riots occurred at political conventions and the president of the country ordered henchmen to break into the opposition's headquarters?

The saccharine 50s?  The war-torn 40s?  The Depression 30s?  The 20s, decade of Robber Barons?  How about the 1800s, when the federal government licensed slave ships, committed genocide and a brutal and bloody internal war torn the country to pieces?

I guess there was a brief period when America was home to amazing inventors, entrepreneurs and small business owners, but it didn't take long for the regulators to step in and shut them down to protect the major corporations.

Yes, we are in search of that elusive moment when America was great the first time.

Oh sure, the country stepped into two world wars under false pretenses to come to the aid of a couple of "allies" that got themselves into wars they couldn't win because of pure stupidity, knowing that they could lure those war-like Americans to join in at some point.

I heard you earlier start to get upset when I said the US licenses slave ships.  Well, hate to break it to you, but not one single slave was brought to America under the Confederate flag.  All the slave ships where either British or US registry.

OK, I'll grant you that the US Constitution is pretty great, but to be great again would assume the country ever followed it in the first place.  Even the vaunted Thomas Jefferson violated that poor document with the Louisiana Purchase.  The Constitution would be great if anyone had ever paid attention to it.  Now it's just a dirty word and judges throw you in jail for contempt if you so much as breathe the word in court (I know...I've been one of them).

That very Constitution that is so great guarantees the freedom of speech, which poor Krystal Lake found out is not much protection.  When she expressed her thoughts, people began campaigns to get her fired from her job, called her all sorts of mean nasty names and even threatened her life on social media.

The behavior of Krystal's fellow citizens proved the very point she was making with her simple ball cap.  The things that made America great were ideals that have rarely been achieved (if ever).  Even the noted Mr. Jefferson wrote that all men were created equal, except perhaps the ones he owned.

Ms. Lake made a valid and profound point with her quiet statement.  America has an active fantasy life about its greatness, but there is a lot of room for improvement.

In defense of Ms. Lake, I would like the Trump campaign, and all his supporters that espouse his slogan, to please define for us what period of American history we should return to in order to be great again.

Perhaps dropping "again" from the slogan and campaigning on a platform of returning the country to Constitutional government would be more honest and appropriate, because I honestly can't think of a single period of time to which the country could return to be great again.

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