Reflecting on the Past: USA

Today Dr. Sylvie Kleinman, alumna of Trinity College, gave a tour to twenty two unknowledgeable Americans. On this tour, she explained how the Irish people experience deep discomfort when discussing their history. The topic is typically avoided by Irish citizens at all costs. Subjects of conversation Irish people avoid include the harsh attitudes towards Catholics and anything dealing with violence. Isolde’s Tower specifically was upsetting to our tour guide, and it seemed like she wanted to breeze over this portion of history rather than talk about it.

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In America, we experience a similar type of uneasiness towards various topics of history. The US certainly is not a perfect country — far from it. A topic that makes me  uncomfortable is our lack of initiative in WWII.  At the time, the US was fully aware of the prison camps and terrible deeds done to the Jewish population. Yet, we sat on this knowledge and decided to “wait it out”.  It wasn’t our problem. In the end, we did take action after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 7, 1941. The US recruited its army with appeals to social justice, and history paints us as heroes. Instead, they should paint us as hypocrites. A mere ten years later, we punished Vietnamese-Americans unfairly. The US sentenced American citizens to prison camps for the duration of the Vietnam War based on their heritage. In our history classes, this is hardly covered.

As Chuck Palahniuk once said, “History does nothing but repeat itself.” Lack of action and racial profiling is a reoccurring issue with the States. Today we see racial profiling throughout our country when it comes to Middle Eastern people. Because of things going on in the country of their nationality, we stereotype them without caring that they are American. 

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Another time the US has failed to act is against North Korea while they repress their citizens. The US calls itself “Moral Crusaders”, yet we refuse to take action when we know citizens in North Korea are being oppressed. Those who wish to leave cannot, and children grow up brainwashed by the government. A Ted Talk by Suki Kim explained that many of the citizens realize they do not have the full truth, but are so thoroughly oppressed by the government they know better than to seek it out.

Why is it hard to talk about these topics? Any nationalist wants to be proud of their country. Discussing history that embarrasses the population or shows the country in a negative light is uncomfortable. Citizens want to respect their country and overemphasizing the negatives makes pride difficult to achieve. However, citizens of both countries should push ourselves to recognize these failures. If we don’t, how will we ever change?

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