So that is the world's best country? - Keith Roulston editorial
Watch any American television talk show and sooner, rather than later, you’re bound to hear someone make the claim that the U.S. is “the greatest country in the world”. Really?
Tell that to the parents of the little children or teachers who were among the 21 shot and killed and 18 injured on May 24 in Uvalde, Texas. Or the 10 killed and three injured in a shooting May 14 at a Buffalo shopping centre. As I write this on Monday morning, there have been five more incidents where at least one American has been killed and at least three people wounded in mass shootings in the U.S. since the Uvalde killing.
It becomes almost impossible to keep up with the shootings in the U.S. On Jan. 1 alone, the year started off with seven people killed and 28 wounded, some of them at New Year’s Eve parties.
But the problem isn’t guns, we were told over and over as the National Rifle Association met, coincidentally, a few hours away in Houston. After all, guns don’t kill people, people (with guns) kill people. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the problem isn’t guns, it’s that the killer at Uvalde had mental issues. Critics pointed out that Texas is last among the U.S. states in the level of aid to seek out and treat people with mental problems.
Then there was the fact that a mentally-ill 18 year old was able to buy the weapons that could slaughter so many people in a relatively short time. Governor Abbott has passed several laws making gun ownership easier.
The Uvalde and Buffalo massacres diverted American attention from a leak of a Supreme Court draft ruling that showed the justices, led by Justice Samuel Alito, were planning to overturn the 50-year-old Roe Vs. Wade decision that made abortion legal in the U.S. Protesters had been out in the thousands opposing Alito’s judgement while the court itself went on a witch hunt to find out who leaked the decision.
Right-wingers in the U.S. say a woman does not have the right to say whether she has a child or not, and the law must protect that unborn child. Apparently, however, as the Texas law shows, the government’s responsibility is only to protect the unborn. Once a child is born it is the responsibility of the parent to see that the child becomes a responsible adult, whether that parent wanted the child or not. In some states, even if the woman was raped, she must give birth and raise the child in a loving manner just as if this was a wanted child.
Then there’s the U.S. racism problem which seems worse now than in years past. The Buffalo murderer, again a heavily-armed 18-year-old, travelled hours from his home to a Buffalo shopping centre where he was sure, from an earlier visit, there was a high population of Black people. Most of those who died were Black. A screed he left behind poured out his hatred of Black people and his feeling White people must be protected.
Similar sentiments have been behind the murders of Americans of Jewish, Asian and African backgrounds elsewhere among the hundreds of innocent people who are murdered each year.
Only one third of Americans own guns yet there are 1.2 guns for every American. For some, like farmers and ranchers, there’s a need to own a gun to protect innocent livestock from predators, but military-style weaponry and handguns aren’t really necessary for that.
Gun ownership isn’t unknown in Canada, especially in smaller centres. Yet according to 2011 figures, 95 per cent of firearm-owning households in Canada possess long guns (an estimated seven million firearms). That worked out to 33.6 per cent of residents of communities under 10,000 compared to 1.2 per cent in cities with populations over one million. Seventy per cent of firearms owners indicate that hunting is the primary reason they own guns. You’ll notice the reasons don’t include the necessity to protect yourself from others with guns.
And compared to countries like Australia, Denmark, Iceland, and Spain, Canada has a higher rate of gun ownership and deaths.
Meanwhile many countries have better maternal health privileges than Americans. Few Canadians would choose the American healthcare system over Canada’s, let alone that of Scandinavian nations.
The U.S. has indeed shown the rest of the world the way to a better, more comfortable life. Still, those who keep saying it’s the best country in the world often do so because they fail to honestly look at other countries. Americans dominate communications, particularly movies, television and the internet and so get wrapped up in their own world and fail to see what other countries have to offer. Maybe it would be a better country if Americans saw the rest of the world more clearly.