The appeals – especially from Romney and the right, who seem to believe in a 1950’s American utopia – to American exceptionalism are peaking right about now, the days before the election.

Perhaps we have to do this, as a modern democracy, but it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Restore American to what greatness, Mitt Romney? That greatness never existed. American exceptionalism never existed.

The truth is this: American History is a Sad History.

“America” began with Columbus. It was the extermination – by disease, guns, and religion – of the natives peoples. Before then, the word never existed.

It continued with the importation of slaves from Africa, people who never choose to be here, who built the wealth of “America” on their backs. Slavery ended but then began almost 100 years of discrimination – against the few remaining natives, forced into poverty and destitution, achoholism, placed in reservations in the least productive lands – against the former slaves, against mixed people, against women, against recently arrived immigrants. This continues to this day.

What in this history am I supposed to be proud of?

Do you know who lived on the ground of your home 300 years ago? Do you know what that place was called in a language, so beautiful, but that has been lost for all eternity? American history is only [400] years old. Before that was a history of thousands of years, now lost.

American history is not something to be proud off. Not at all. But it is something that we can learn from. Maybe then we can treat the remaining natives peoples with the rights promised to them as sovereign nations. Maybe then we can begin to understand how discrimination has created a near-permanent underclass.

False slogans and historical hypocrisy will not help. Only when we understand our history can we move onto a human promise. That is the real American dream – of a future where we can begin to finally atone for the sins of our collective past.

Free weekly roundups, straight to your inbox


Asia Undercovered: Get the stories on Asia that mainstream media doesn’t cover.




You've signed up! Please check your email to confirm.