Choose ONE of the following:
- Discuss the following statement: “Yes, it [The British Empire] was far from perfect, but we are all living under an empire right now! The consumerist empire of the USA, the exploitation, the greed, the slavery, it is still happening…” (Reader’s comment in “The Guardian” 2012)
- “America – the land of the free?” – Comment on this quote, referring also to the message of the cartoon below.
„Yes, the British Empire was far from perfect, but we are all living under an empire right now! The consumerist empire of the USA, the exploitation, the greed, the slavery, it is still happening…“. What does the author want to say by that quotation and is it really possible to compare apples to oranges?
An empire is generally defined by a group of nations or peoples ruled over by an emperor or other powerful sovereign or government. It is quite obvious that the USA doesn’t rule over the world as such. One could argue that the consumerist attitude of the USA spreads to other continents. Its domestic and foreign affairs are geared towards promoting growth at all costs possible. In that course the USA exploits first world countries in order to make more and more profit. Everybody knows that there are workers that suffer from inhumane working conditions.
On the other hand, it is surely a fact that the British Empire has a bad name. It ruled over a huge part of the world and didn’t shy away from taking man from their homes. Unlawful detention was no special case. On top of that people were considered the Empire’s own, they became a commodity and were completely dehumanized. They had to experience physical violence and lost all right of self-determination.
As a result, I’m of the opinion that one cannot compare slavery to exploitation. Even though it might be a similar approach as it is quite obvious that human dignity is neglected at its worst then and now – it is not to be equated.
The Statue of Liberty is not only a well known sight but also a symbol of the United States of America. The country has always been the land of the free. Taking the latest issues concerning home affairs into account, the question arises whether that image is still justified.
Everyone knows the slogan „from rags to riches“. It is taken from a time when America was still the land of unlimited opportunity. Inspired by the dream to achieve affluence, the country was a magnet for immigrants from all over the world. On top of that, religious freedom was guaranteed by the very first Amendment of the American Constitution, which was rather extraordinary at that time.
By having a closer look at the cartoon given, a completely different picture emerges in front of one’s eyes. Since 9/11, the USA has to face the new challenge of the fight against terrorism. The so-called Patriot Act was a step towards extensive surveillance. The constitutional guarantees of civil rights could be undermined for the first time. The NSA now has access to data of all US companies. On top of that, individual persons who communicate digitally can get observed round-the-clock. It is legal to take information from private e-mails, phone calls and video conferences in order to stop terrorism. Even well known online services like Outlook, Hotmail or Skype cannot guarantee a person’s privacy.
Considering the lack of privacy of the individual due to extensive surveillance, I come to the conclusion that America isn’t a symbol for freedom any longer.
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