Thursday, August 18, 2005

BBC, Seattle and the American Dream

The BBC must be getting their money's worth from their correspondent who has pulled summer duty in Seattle. (the best - and only- time to visit). First the news report and now a report about the American dream and its viability.

This article has obvious bias. Not liberal bias because that has been debunked here, here and here, but cultural bias. The author, Humphrey Hawksley, is clearly British and not American.

While some research may show that those born into poverty in America have less mobility than other nations, Hawksley just doesn't the get mystic of the American Dream. He interviews people that are down and out and finds they -gasp!- blame themselves for missing opportunities and losing out on the American Dream. Hawksley shows utter confusion because
In Europe, the government is entwined with a lot of what we do, yet in America, I felt a sentiment that the more say the government has over you, the more you carry a sense of failure.

My favorite part are the last lines.
"Why do you want to live here and not in Europe?" I asked a young woman from Ethiopia, who tipped back her Seattle Mariners baseball cap and looked at me as if I were completely mad.

"Europe," she said disdainfully.

"What do they ever hope for in Europe? Here they have a law that you can dream to be happy."

I admit that I ran from America because I was tired of telling my poor black students that they could be anything they wanted if they just worked hard. I knew they had so many strikes against them that "anything" was a lie and the kids across Lake Washington in Bill Gate's neighborhood would only have to work 1/2 as hard to achieve truly anything. When I left, I thought I was coming to a liberal utopia in Europe. It isn't that liberal and isn't a utopia.

At least in America, minority concerns are addressed. The poor and minorities do "make it big". Look at our cabinet versus any European cabinet. We are virtual rainbow to their snow whiteness. With the Horatio Alger myth still in full force, it allows people to dream. And we know, as the Psalmist says, do you think you can mess with the dreams of the poor? You can't, for God makes their dreams come true.

America has many faults, and President Bush's administration is exacerbating them, but after visiting over 20 countries on 3 continents, I know that America is the greatest country in the world.