Transmuting Centuries of US Discord

Frank-Jürgen Richter

By Frank-Jürgen Richter

January 6, 2021

Social discord is a longstanding reality in the US. It has taken various forms and revolutions over the centuries – whether it is one community pitted against another or one economic class against another. Time and again, voices have risen against exploitation, and more often than not, justice has prevailed and a level playing field achieved.

In very recent times, however, social discord has again reared its ugly head with several irresponsible comments and tweets from the highest office in the country.

It is in light of such long standing societal issues that Horasis is organizing the ‘Horasis Extraordinary Meeting on the USA’. The event is scheduled to take place virtually on 18 March 2021, and will bring together experts from across the world and from all disciplines to deliberate on these longstanding issues.

Populist Governments and Renewed Surge in Societal Discord

The past few years have witnessed a surge in populist governments in several countries around the world. Strongmen leaders seem to enjoy wide electoral support and more often than not, this support has been drawn from eulogising one community’s achievements and deriding another. It has been an “us versus them” rhetoric that has, undoubtedly, resonated with a large majority of the voters. Unfortunately, this political vantage point was also used all too commonly by the Trump administration. In fact, his 2015 election manifesto even included the building of a wall along the US-Mexico border to discourage illegal immigration.

Building the wall ran into various roadblocks, but the social division it encouraged in its wake, has left deep feelings of animosity. These feeling of ill will are against the very pillars that the world’s most powerful country was built upon. While little has been achieved on actually building the wall, the rhetoric clearly resonates with many voters.

The US Must Reassume Global Leadership

The US is looked up to by much of the developing world as a benchmark to emulate. It has offered sound leadership on several fronts, including the vital sphere of education. US universities are sought after learning destinations for international students and it is no coincidence that a large majority of top corporate leaders are almost always alumni of distinguished US universities. How is it then that the graduates of these universities are leading multinational corporations, engaging with people from diverse backgrounds and ensuring collaboration among them? They are surely adopting a more inclusive stance – one that political leaders must also consider.

From its official founding in 1776, the US has fostered innovation and advances in all fields and none of these hallmark achievements can be attributed to one race or one community alone. Whether it is their space program, its tech powerhouse Silicon Valley, its leading automobile industry, or even the entertainment behemoth better known as Hollywood – these are all the culmination of efforts by people from across the world who chose to call the US home. They were perhaps first attracted there by way of better economic opportunities but they lived and contributed to their local economies.

A Cultural Melting Pot that Must be Embraced

The US has been built by immigrants, irrespective of the general tendency to associate the term ‘immigrant’ with only people of colour. It rose to global prominence on the back of cumulative efforts by its immigrant workforce. The feelings of one community being superior than another and that certain people are more equal than others, must now be brushed aside. There are clearly no positive outcomes to an “us versus them” viewpoint; rather the spotlight must be cast on collaboration. The US economy currently finds itself sailing against the winds and it is only prudent to readjust the sails to ensure a voyage on less choppy waters.

The incoming administration must encourage thawing in relations with the global diaspora for it is only in working together that America truly can be great again. It is urgent to put aside petty outlooks and transmute centuries of discord which have been made fresh in recent times. We can hope that the Biden administration can truly step up to the challenge. If his first election victory speech is anything to go by, we could very well see a more multilateral and collaborative world than we have seen in the recent past. He said: “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify; who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States…This is the time to heal in America. I sought this office to restore the soul of America, to rebuild the backbone of this nation, the middle class, and to make America respected around the world again, and to unite us here at home.”

Photo Caption: A wind-blown US Flag in the Washington Monument. A lot of hope is pinned on the incoming Biden administration.