Posted by: sternenfeeinflorida | 10 May 2010

America, liberate yourself (again)!

Often, when I’m asked what I miss most about Germany I have to answer: my freedom. I feel that my life in Germany was much freer than it is now in the United States. This usually earns me disbelieving looks and comments stating that everyone in the United States is free, that freedom of speech is a constitutional right, protected by the First Amendment and that everyone can speak their mind but must be prepared to be criticized for it. I will not go into detail comparing the constitutions, just let me say this: the German constitution grants the same freedom of speech, and yet, I feel there is a big difference. Maybe the following examples will explain better what I mean when I say that I’m freer in Germany. Last week, when the Battle of Puebla was celebrated in Mexico, the Mexican communities in the United States, as well as many Americans and people of other backgrounds living in the United States joined the celebration. Since this holiday largely serves as an excuse to get drunk in the United States, the typical arrests for drunk driving and other disorderly conduct while drunk can (and should) be expected. What surprised me, however, was the arrest of students for wearing T-Shirts that displayed the American flag. While the students may have arranged to wear the shirts on the same day, isn’t this their right, protected under the First Amendment? Since when can in the United States only the flag of the country displayed that happens to have a national holiday? Does that mean everyone can only wear and display the German flag on October 3? I mean, Americans like to celebrate the Oktoberfest anyway, so the American flag shouldn’t be displayed at all because it would be disrespectful to the German communities who brought the Oktoberfest to America in the first place. While we’re at it, what about St Patrick’s Day, America’s excuse to pretend to be green? I have never heard of a single instance where someone got arrested for displaying an American flag on this day. Maybe this will now change, as it is apparent that only the flag of the country celebrating a holiday (preferably one that involves plenty of alcohol) can be displayed. What I don’t understand is why it is impossible to display both flags. Any holiday celebrated in a different country warrants the display of the host country as well as the country celebrating the holiday. Aside from promoting the integration process of new immigrants into the American culture, it should be America’s right to display their flag inside their own country whenever they see fit. After all, it’s a constitutional right. Americans, make use of this right and show everyone in the world that while you gladly accept and celebrate the holidays of other nations, you will not allow your own culture to be stomped into the ground. Please stand firm and demand the integration of immigrants. Actions like the arrest of the students only promote separation and lead to a more or less self-imposed censorship in a misguided attempt to be politically correct. Political correctness is a serious threat to America’s identity. While it aims to unite the people by trying to make sure nobody is left out, it achieves the direct opposite – it separates people even further. One example that never seizes to amaze me is the division of Americans into different races. In attempt to do the politically correct thing the division of Americans into different races creates the ultimate separation. I understand that the classification was established to ensure all Americans have the same opportunities regardless of their ethnic background and I’m sure it has served its purpose. However, it also provides a strong basis for discrimination. At the same time, it has become essential to be up to date with the latest politically correct terminology when trying to distinguish between ethnicities. Using the wrong term is likely to offend somebody, although many people do not fit into the categories provided. I believe if the ethnic classification was dismissed and all people in the United States were suddenly simply people who live in the United States, a much greater equality and integration could be achieved. The focus would be shifted from a person’s ethnicity to the person itself. Americans, you will have to decide if you want to embrace the diversity in this country. It is up to you to decide whether you want to live in a colorful, diverse country in which everyone is judged based on himself or whether you want to live in a country that still divides people by their ethnic background, no matter how insufficient the dividing criteria are. Another case of political correctness gone wrong is the debate over the so-called “Holiday Season.” There once was a time when it was called “Christmas Season.” People went “Christmas shopping”, sent “Christmas cards” that read “Merry Christmas”, bought or baked “Christmas cookies” among other things. Sometime ago, I don’t know when, it was suddenly deeply frowned upon to do any of these things. Instead, it had to be “Holiday Season”, people now have to go “holiday shopping”, send “holiday cards”, buy and bake “holiday cookies.” The argument of trying to create unity and equality among Americans by replacing “Christmas” with “Holiday” loses any remaining credibility once Americans look at their calendar. Christmas is a federal holiday, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Yule (among others) are not. While it is undeniable that many different religions exist in the United States, it does not promote peace when the religious identity is taken away. Instead, Americans should realize that religious identity is an important but individual part of their culture. Religion should be a largely private affair and there are certainly enough resources available to celebrate their own religion. To be honest, I have yet to hear complaints from other religions groups that they don’t get a federal holiday to celebrate their equivalent of Christmas and they highly disagree with Christmas being a federal holiday. Throughout its history, the United States have presented strong Christian roots, they are visible in every political debate and in every day life. Yet, Americans have always embraced and accepted other religions. Therefore, I ask you Americans, stand up for your identity, embrace the differences. For many Christmas is not so much about religion as it is about celebrating peace and family. I hope that these examples show what I mean by being able to express my opinion freer in Germany than here in the United States. Unfortunately, currently the disguise of political correctness is used to censor the freedom of speech that should be available to all. At the same time, in Germany I don’t have to worry about offending anyone for being topless at the beach. Signs like “no shirt, no shoes, no service” outside a store are unknown and I know I won’t have to worry about a frivolous lawsuit because most Germans still possess a healthy level of common sense. I wish I could walk free in the United States as well, knowing that as long as I acknowledge that other people have the same rights as I do, my rights are protected, that nobody is more equal than anyone else.

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Responses

  1. When I stop to think what has happened to my country, I have your same thoughts. I want my freedom from this government! I don’t want to hear ‘it’s still the best country’ I want my country back. The way it was. Your right ON! Thank you for your thoughts. You are what America is all about.


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