Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Positive & Negative Images of America


This positive image of America for me, is the notion of Freedom which is perhaps the most elaborate patriotic part of American history. No view is more essential to Americans’ sense of themselves as individuality and as a nation, than freedom. Freedoms means opportunity and potentail equality for all: a black man, Obama, in the White House; an Austrian weightlifter in charge of the US state with the most consumerist/richest lifestyle - Arnie Schwarzenegger 'The Governator" of California. Where else but in the USA could this happen. This belief is inherent in the American psyche that they have the possibility to achieve anything. It has meant they have the richest country in the world, people who are confident, out going and have freedom (enshrined in the Constitution/Bill of Rights) to express their opinion and succeed in what they do.
The Bill of Rights has given Americans a sense of national pride. America is proud of a national day to celebrate, the 4th of July and can say " Happy fourth of July!" to a stranger, in England we seem ashamed to celebrate our national day (St George's Day - April 23rd). Americans have a strong patriotism which in Europe some of us feel guilty about celebrating. Millions of Americans say the Pledge of Allegiance every day, a commitment to their country and national identity; their national anthem & flag the Star Spangled Banner are demonstrated at sports events etc. Whether one agrees with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of American homes fly their flag in their yard every day, because they are proud of their soldiers; how many homes in England fly a flag for our troops?

The Ku Klux Klan or KKK is an American organisation that consisted of only white men and were located mainly in southern states of America. The Ku Klux Klan, informally known as The Klan, weren’t just a simple southern organisation. The main goal of the organisation was to oppress black people, in violent ways. They believe that only white, Christian, heterosexuals deserve civil rights.
The first KKK was formed in the South of America towards the end of the civil war, when the triumphant Union government forced a set of martial laws on the south and began to impose laws with the intention of ending segregation against the black society. The Klan turned to violence and intimidation when a constitutional amendment approved giving black men the right to vote in 1870. In an attempt to stop desegregation, the Klan turned to harassment and intimidation towards blacks. This included, putting burning crosses on the lawn of individuals, riding in groups by horseback near communities who they wanted to frighten, arson, beating, rape and hanging.  The Klan can be distinguished by their bizarre costume, consisting of a long robe and a tall pointed white hat. These costumes were meant to represent Klansmen as ghosts of angry Confederates. They serve as an intimidation symbol that evokes the violent history of the organisation and are still worn today by the Klan.

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