Rethinking America

I Want My American Dream Back

Never has it occurred that one man, in four short years, would nearly shatter everything that the US stood for.

Credit: Joseph Sohm Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • Never has it occurred that one man, in four short years, would nearly shatter everything that the US stood for.
  • With all of its faults and failings, 240 years of the American experience have made the US the beacon for all nations.
  • As Biden has eked out a hard-fought victory, Alon Ben-Meir celebrates the occasion by presenting a heart-wrenching appeal to his adopted home country.
  • Alon Ben-Meir recalls the path that led him from the Middle East and Europe -- where he experienced discrimination as a Sephardic Jew in his youth -- to the US.
  • In an endearing fashion, Alon Ben-Meir writes that he “wants his country back.” That is, a US that aims to be a positive force in the world.

As a little Jewish boy in the streets of Baghdad, I was looked upon by Arab boys my age as inferior.

I became accustomed to it — as if it were a natural phenomenon which I could do little to change.

When my family and I landed in Israel following the historic exodus of the Iraqi Jews, I did not understand why we were uprooted to go to a foreign land.

No longer looked down upon?

But even at that tender age of nine or ten, I felt that being among other Jewish boys, I would no longer be looked down upon. But that was not the case.

I wondered, why, why? “We are Sephardic Jews,” my brother told me, “the Ashkenazi Jews do not think of us as equal,” and so living among my fellow Jews did not change my plight.

I left Israel to study in Europe and could not help but look back but in anger. To my chagrin, though not as much to my surprise here too, in the cradle of Western democracies, racism and discrimination were just under their skin.

An intruder, a foreigner, a stranger

And I could feel it deep in my veins. In France, I was seen as an undesirable intruder. In England, as a foreigner and a stranger.

Though I loved Europe’s culture and the way of life, Europe was not a welcoming home to meet my yearning desire.

All the while I had been hearing about the “American dream.” The magic, the sound these two words exude wholly captured my imagination.

Going back to the lands that rejected me was no longer the path that I would travel as my longing to reach U.S. shores was the only thing that was anchored in my mind.

The land of the free

I imagined the United States of America as the land of the free that gave voice to the forgotten. Where race, color and creed do not matter and human rights are guarded with zeal.

The land where the ingathering of all cultures and people made it richer, and human resources and talent knew no limits or constraints. Where opportunity awaits the able — and generosity is extended to the needy. Where everyone is equal before the law and the land and political differences are valued to make the United States better.

And the land where sacrifices are willingly made to right the wrong, and morals and fortitude guide its leaders.

Where caring about friends and allies is the hallmark of the nation, and opposing oppression near and far is the emblem that distinguishes the United States.

The American soul

This is the character of the United States, this is its soul. This is what made the United States great. The United States that gave me a home. The United States that fulfilled my dreams.

These were the ideals that held Americans together. The United States was never — and is not — a perfect union, and every president — from Lincoln to Nixon — has transgressed in one form or another.

But then the United States’ striving to live up to its ideals has, — and will always be, an ever renewing endeavor. No country in human history has risen to govern with such a vision and resolve — placing the rights of individuals as part of its constitution as part of the Bill of Rights.

A beacon for all nations

With all of its faults and failings, 240 years of the American experience have made the United States a beacon for all nations. Young and old, large and small countries looked at the United States with awe and admiration.

Never has it occurred, however, to the multitude of Americans that one man, in four short years, would nearly shatter everything that the United States stood for.

That man tried to sully the country’s character and to foul its soul. He gravely injured its revered institutions and battered its unity as one nation.

He alienated Americans from one another and basked in the polarization and division he gleefully fostered.

Betraying allies, embracing adversaries

That man also betrayed the United States’ friends and allies — and cozied-up to its adversaries and foes.
He tarnished the idea of U.S. exceptionalism and grace, and sacrificed its greatness on the altar of his illusions and shame.

Trump is cunning, cruel and corrupt, deranged, delinquent and deceptive. He is also a narcissist, white supremacist and racist a bigot, brutal, and beastly.

Harsh though it might appear at first, there is not a single maligning word in the English dictionary does not fit Trump’s personality and demeanor.

Inflicting irreparable damage

Four more years of Trump would have irreparably impaired the United States, torn the country asunder, weakened its exemplary institutions, sow chaos, trepidation and fear, threatened liberty and the freedom of the press and gravely poisoned the socio-political order.

Four more years of Trump in power would also have permanently squandered the United States’ leadership role, bankruedpt its moral standing, emboldened the United States’ enemies, compromised the security of our allies, and left the United States’ foes to cheer its decline.

No man should be allowed to destroy the United States’ noble experience. His enabler’s — the Republican leadership’s — deafening silence is nothing short of treason.

History will judge

History will eventually condemn Republicans for having sold out their country by putting their personal and party interest, before that of the nation.

They are so intoxicated with power they never cared about where the United States would have been after four more years of Trump.

No, the United States would not have been the same.

It would have for many years crushed the once-cherished American dream.

And as long I can discern right from wrong, I will fight alongside millions of my fellow Americans to restore the United States’ greatness and grace. Because I want my American dream back.

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About Alon Ben-Meir

Senior Fellow at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs and Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute [United States]

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