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Wednesday, October 05, 2016

US personal freedom—a myth—not the freest

Those who don’t want to stand for the national anthem at our sporting events are sure to hear that the song “represents all the freedom we have” in this country. Muscle bound thugs threaten, at times, to beat up those who disrespect the flag—they fought for that flag. Or we may hear that we live in the freest country in the world. But the fact is—we don’t.
And a new survey that came out ranks us a 15 in the world. According to an article in The Wichita Eagle:

“Personal freedom, as defined by the London-based Legatum Institute, measures a nation’s performance at both guaranteeing individual freedom and encouraging social tolerance. Canada was ranked No. 1 due to 94 percent of its citizens saying they believed they had the freedom to choose the course of their own lives and 92 percent saying there was tolerance for ethnic minorities and immigrants.”

That isn’t real bad, considering the countries that didn’t make it higher than us. But we are NOT #1. In fact we are not even in the top 10. It doesn’t take long to see that this country does not really provide the personal freedom it lays claim to. It does not live up to its promises. When it comes to “choose the course of their own lives,” This country has run a “war on drugs” designed to prevent citizens from choosing a live style that includes any kind of intoxicants, including marijuana. There are a lot of countries in Europe that allow citizens to make that choice.
Then there is the issue of flag desecration. Many people think it should be illegal to desecrate the flag. However such rules would take away people’s freedom to decide how they can display their patriotism. All this flag worshiping is important to vets who claim they “fought for that flag.” But what about the ideals the flag is supposed to stand for? We should have the right to dissent. In many ways we don’t.
According to The Wichita Eagle’s article; the country with the most personal freedom? Canada, followed by New Zealand, Norway, Luxembourg and Iceland.”
Some Americans might counter that we have been at war, especially with terrorism. That means we need to put an emphasis on safety. The irony here is that we are way less safe than other countries. Again The Wichita Eagle Article:

The U.S. was ranked highly in all categories except safety and security, where it has dropped to number 33. In fact, in the study’s key findings, it said the U.S. is “an increasingly dangerous place.”
“It is also the only Western country to register high levels of state-sponsored political violence,” the study says. “According to Amnesty International the country has the same level of political violence as Saudi Arabia.”
The safest countries are Hong Kong, Iceland, Finland, Ireland and Sweden.

So the lack of freedom here at home has not made us safer.
It is my opinion that freedom is also a state of mind. If most people believe that Muslims don’t have the same rights as Christians then we can conclude that the freedoms our government provides to such religions is compromised. If a person is fired for an opinion they posted on Facebook, they are not really practicing free speech, even if the government protects such speech.  
Many of us realize that US freedom is a form of idealism. It is patriotic to say that “the US is the freest country in the world” or that “we should appreciate all the freedoms we enjoy.” Those of us who are dissenters here in the US already know what kind of tools the government can use to stop our freedom. Some of us remember the FBI’s COINTELPRO program and the dirty tricks used to stifle dissent. Others have lost their jobs for posting opinions on Facebook. This article is helpful to prove to the American public that freedom in the US is not absolute or even close to that.
- សតិវអតុ 

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