Commentary: From sea to shining sea: America a divided nation

Jean H Charles LLB, MSW, JD, is a regular contributor to the opinion section of Caribbean News Now. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Jean H Charles

I watched the speech of President Donald Trump on the State of the Union last week; I thought it was a great speech, a unifying moment when America was standing as one to push forward the manifest destiny of a great nation. But reading later the comments of pundits and respectable media you could find mostly the distortion of facts as the big news of the night. I am observing from afar the United States transforming itself into a banana republic more common to the situations seen in Latin America, Africa or the country I hail from — Haiti.

It is true the United States was built on July 4, 1776, as a divided nation with the black population not having all the rights and privileges thereunto reserved to a citizen. It missed the opportunity to redress itself when John Adams lost his re-election in 1800 to Thomas Jefferson. Adams wanted to use the genie of Toussaint Louverture in St Domingue to unleash the end of slavery in the United States.

Ayiti, after the French Revolution in 1789, set in motion the full rehabilitation of all men to liberty, equality and fraternity. With the election of Thomas Jefferson, the issue of race relations in the United States and in the rest of the world took a turn for the worse. Napoleon, with the tacit help of Jefferson, defeated Toussaint and the vision of a world without the distinction of color vanished for good!

In the United States we would have to wait until 1864 for the 16th president of the Union, Abraham Lincoln, to defeat the candidate of the Know Nothing Party aka Democratic Party, Senator Stephen Douglas to engage the United States in a war against the Southern States bent on maintaining slavery and creating one nation under God from sea to shining sea.

Abraham Lincoln did not have the chance to heal the wounds of both antagonists and forge a unified nation where blacks and whites would labor with no difference of color to build families and continue the process of nation building. He was assassinated two years later after the Emancipation. For another 100 years there was no magnetic leader who could have pushed forward the magnum opus set forth by Abraham Lincoln. Lynching of the new freedmen and lip service to black education was the order of the day until Dr Martin Luther King came along, around 1964, to galvanize the nation where black and white would be engaged again into forging one nation under God.

President Lyndon Johnson concurred with the spirit of appurtenance and worked with Dr King to pass sweeping civil rights legislation that would affirm the determination of the country to move forward together as one. But Dr Martin Luther King, like Abraham Lincoln, was himself assassinated, pushing backward the black agenda.

With the exception of the government of Richard Nixon some 50 years ago there has been no meaningful traction in making full the deficit in education and in appropriation for the centuries of injury inflicted on the black population in America. Even President Barack Obama, the first beneficiary of the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and of Dr Martin Luther King to arrive to the highest standing in the nation as president of the Republic did not come close to a real advocate and strong mover of the great march of history towards full emancipation of the black population.

Here comes President Donald Trump who made a campaign promise he will do so well for the black population that a portion of the electorate forgot that he the president was not their preferred candidate. On his way to achieving such promise, President Trump has been assailed as no president has been assailed before. You would have believed you are in a banana republic with open warfare against an elected president.

The social media, the press and the Democratic Party in a concerted and planned effort are playing all the cards to derail any move by the president to fulfill his agenda. I am reading on my Facebook page the postings of the Democratic Coalition against Trump as a legitimate instrument of the party designed just to rail, ridicule, and even insult a sitting president.

For the sake of healing and recovering nation, the Democratic Party should at least shut down or demand the mellowing of the comments. Imagine the Republican Party choosing to respond in kind with its own Republican Coalition against Chairwoman Pelosi or Senator Hillary Clinton.

We would be than Guyana in the Caribbean with the PPP against PNC, the Indian Guyanese insulting the black Guyanese!

I have lived long enough in the United States to know that Jews and Arabs, Sunnis and Shiites, Indian and Pakistan cohabit peacefully in the neighborhoods of New York in fact in every city of the United States, while they are fighting each other at home. There is now a real warfare between those who believe President Donald Trump is doing a great job for the nation and those who strongly believe he is the great Satan who must be impeached and thrown out of power for the sake of the welfare of humanity.

Let us review some of the issues that divide the nation.


The burning one, the wall at the southern border to stem the caravan of immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin American fleeing oppression, gang violence, corrupt governments and plain misery. President Trump is asking Congress to put $5 billion for a wall that would deter the would-be migrants. An enlightened Democratic Party stopping the crocodile tears for the migrants would give the president that funding with an offer he could not refuse…

Imagine the Democratic Party taking the lead to duplicate what the Republican Party did 30 years ago under the leadership of President Ronald Reagan: legislation to offer a general amnesty to all the 11 million illegal aliens presently in the country for the price of building the wall and securing permanently the southern border!

The United States would have enough money not only to build the wall but also to initiate nation building in Latin America and in the Caribbean, deterring forever all illegal migration to the United States as it has also been suggested by Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas and Doris Meissner former director of US Immigration and Naturalization Service.

At $1,000 per head for the legalization process, (less the money the migrant has been paying for a coyote to bring in); the project would enjoy a budget of $11 billion to fix once and for all the issue of migration in the Western Hemisphere, structurally and conjecturally!

Health Insurance

I remember vividly the weeks after the Obama health care was passed, the entire nation was filled with new health insurance agencies as well as boutique clinics at each corner similar to those Protestant churches in ghetto neighborhoods, ready and prepared to take advantage of this manna in ripping off the government under the pretense of health services. With time it has died down a bit, yet there is a clear impression the Obama health care is a bonanza for the business practitioners and insurance companies, not for the patients. It needs a re-vamping for the sake of the patients and for the sake of the financial good standing of the American budget.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

In a previous essay, Required Reading, I have demonstrated how China has set itself up to gobble up the jobs of the world to the detriment of all other nations developed or not developed. As a matter of fact it is more apt to deliver most of the jobs of the developed nations at a cheaper price than at home. Emil Vlagick, the author of the opus The Miserable of Modernity /Les Miserables de la Modernite (which by the way is 20 years old this year), has laid down the remedy to such development: education for all to the highest degree, creativity and resilience.

President Trump is at least putting the issue at the table. He is not the great advocate as President Obama or President Clinton of outsourcing as the best tool for the world division of labor.

America, the Gendarme of the World

President Donald Trump is advocating the concept it is time to bring the troops home. He is promoting the demilitarization of most of the hot spots of the world. Be it North Korea where he enjoys a warm relationship with the reclusive Chairman Kim, be it in Syria, where President Assad has been able to maintain the grip of power in spite of the fact he has destroyed the lives of millions of Syrians, be it in Afghanistan where the Taliban is now talking with the established government, its diplomacy of confronting the enemy face to face to bring the best out of those leaders for their own sake is a new school of approach; it deserves the test of time and analysis before it is discounted out.

The old approach for the past 60 years has brought success only in Japan and in Europe. The United States and its allies in Europe have brought more calamity in reaching out to solve the world problems than it has sorted them out. We have now some 260 million international migrants worldwide knocking the doors of Europe or the United States, there has been an increase of 274% more migrants (160,000) seeking asylum in 2018 alone in the United States because of combination of terrorism, corrupt and inefficient government, gang violence and remnants of bungled interventions. It is time to bring a new approach and break ranks with more things change the more they remain the same.

Race relations

First, full disclosure, the grandmother of my children lived next door to the Trump family (his mother and father) for the last 30 years in the Jamaica Estates section of New York with the actual President Donald Trump visiting on weekends and holidays. There was at no time an indication or a gesture of racism from a neighbor to a neighbor where there was not even a border separating the two families. Donald Trump the racist, as painted by the Democratic coalition against Trump, is self-serving at best and hypocritical at worst.

There is a problem of race relations in the United States, which is 500 years old, as I have explained at the beginning of this essay. Solving that problem by pointing at or denouncing each and every one of its manifestations is hypocritical at best and not going into the roots of extracting racism for good from the United States. The Democratic Party might have an excellent narrative that appeals to the black population but in fact it has been a slow mover of the black experience to its best.

Aside from FDR and Lyndon Johnson a Democrat not even elected, I cannot pinpoint any Democratic administration that has been a pioneer in improving race relations in the United States. President Obama, the first black president, pushed the clock backward in spite of the excellent reputation and branding his name, observed lately. In fact I have observed in a state like New York the best mayors for black or white (John Lindsay, Rudolph Giuliani, and Michael Bloomberg) have all been Republicans. (Good mention should be given to the actual mayor, Bill De Blasio, a Democrat)

Racism is ingrained in each one of us, I have had more racist demonstrations from Latinos because maybe my command of Spanish is not up to par or by Chinese citizens because I am a black man than I have had from white citizens and in truth from Haiti, my homeland, the nation with an emancipation mission par excellence, where racism is at the core of its ethos the way it treats its rural citizens!

The Doctrine of America First

I have shown in a previous essay with the image of the tower of Babel that God intends us to give the primacy to nation over internationalism. Only nations that stand on their own feet can promote true internationalism. The doctrine of Woodrow Wilson, Americas for the Americans is good neither for the Americas nor for the Americans. Its substitution to America first promoted by President Trump will give the opportunity for Salvador, or the Dominican Republic or Jamaica or as a matter of fact Haiti, to shout Haiti first and solve its problems at home without dumping them onto The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic or the United States.

The hypocrisy of caring observed in the United States or in Europe for the migrants issued from Africa, the Middle East and Latin America irritates the citizens of the host countries into a backlash that promotes demagogic rightist leaders who might do more harm to the collective social conscience of their nations.

To conclude, each time I travel back to the United States, I see a great nation from sea to shining sea with the technology, the right combination of people with the resilience and the creativity to lead this world; it is being polluted now by partisan politics. An olive branch has been tendered by President Trump on Tuesday February 2, 2019, in the State of the Union speech to make peace and move forward as one nation, let us pray God it is seized and hold tight for the good of both parties and for the good of the citizens of America!




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