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Death of The American Dream

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It is astounding to me the level of xenophobic propelled action taking place in reaction to the development of an Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero. I have seen numerous postings on Face Book and Self-declared Righteous Politicians touting the immorality of it by using images of the 9-11 attacks as bait for the hate hungry. When will we start acting like America again?

I remember growing up in a small community where the Pledge of allegiance was said each morning without fail and we were vehemently taught that America was the land of opportunity where even the poorest of men (or women) could become whatever they wanted. As I grew up, I had visions in my head of the Statue of Liberty and that wonderful quote:

""Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

To me, this quote was more than just an etching on a plaque in a place I would probably never go, it was a message, a beacon that meant all were welcome in this country no matter how poor or downtrodden. This held great significance for me. You see, I was born and raised in a hippie culture to parents who were immigrants.

Some of you probably are envisioning turban wrapped Arabs or poor Slovenians, Cubans, Haitians paddling or smuggling themselves into this country type of immigrants. No, they came over from England on the Queen Mary (third Class, of course) and established a life in America with great hope and anticipation that someday, they would enjoy the famous American Dream.

I have watched the news, read the blogs and participated in Face book debates on this subject. I have weighed the positives and negatives on all sides of the issue and still I cannot find rational thought. Maybe I am an eternal pessimist but I cannot seem to find where America is in these discussions.

On the Right we have the "Keep America Whole" statements where the argument turns to the Bush Era political paranoia based on the ideal that America is an Elitist State that should benefit only those who are worthy and then there is the liberal side where the poor should get everything and the rich should carry the burden (both views are seriously misguided). I hear the Christian argument where the Muslim invasion is a sin and we should arm ourselves to the hilt to prevent Jihad. I also hear the Muslim side which is rarely reported by mainstream media.

Many may not be aware and Fox News does not help in this matter by spreading falsities about it but, the average Muslim-American does not support what Al-Qaeda is doing. They did not support the 9-11 attacks and they do not think America is evil. If they did, why would they fly flags at their businesses and homes? Why would they come to this country? If you answered because they are trying to infiltrate the US, you have much to learn and even more to remember about this country.

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These people are here for the same reasons my parents came here, to live and prosper under the cloak of the greatest country on Earth. They are entitled to the same benefits we all are. It is written in the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government."

This is a moving and inspirational piece of writing. It is the backbone of this, our Country, the United States of America. Who are we today to take that away? Who are we to stand in protest of a religious institution sacred to an immigrant people at the base of the Statue of Liberty and not a stone's throw from Philadelphia where the Declaration was written and strip a people of that American Dream?

Which of you will stand in front of a classroom filled with starry-eyed children who believe that this country stands for all and opportunity is there for them, one and all, no matter their race, creed or religion, and tell them the American Dream is dead? Which of you will stand and be so anti-human as to tell these children and those abroad suffering untold tragedy that this Country is no longer the beacon of the world? Which of you wants to do that?

When you stand against a people wanting to take advantage of all this Country stands for, you do just that. You are killing everything this, My United Sates of America, is about. We did not come this far, through war, slavery, women's rights, and equal rights struggles to have a group of xenophobic zealots take it all away. I believe in this Country and it truly breaks my heart to see so many joining the slow march toward the Death of the American Dream.

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Steven Forrest is a Project Architect living in St. Petersburg, Florida. Currently, he is working to implement Green Building initiatives in several communities across Florida. Given the current situation in America and the continued (more...)

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