The American Dream Essay Research Paper CONTEMPORARY — страница 3

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of owning and tending his land has been destroyed largely through racial bias and official and commercial indifference. The Dream of the African-American farmer has been lost by the perception of the whites who hold the purse strings and their belief that they are not capable of the task at hand. For the large landowners, be it Ted Turner in Montana or the Cattle Kings in Texas, the American Dream is alive and well. Small family farms, whether owned by members of last century’s immigrant communities in the Mid-West or by recently arrived Hispanic families in the south, are trying to achieve a Dream at a different level. Different patterns of social stratification and a greater emphasis by society on individualism and consumerism has meant it is harder for farmers to feel that

they have reached the American Dream (ibid). Economic desperation can lead to violence. Poverty too can stand in the way of the American Dream. While the cities tend to be linked to violence, it has been in the rural communities of the US heartland that American terrorism has been born. Years of economic downturn have led many in rural communities to despise and distrust the US Government, remote in Washington, D.C (Stern, 1996). Citizen’s Militia groups have grown up with their own ideas on how to seek redress for years of perceived neglect and the destruction of their Dream, most famously in the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995. In the inner cities of Chicago and Los Angeles, riots fuelled by racial and economic inequality flared in the 1960’s.

Thirty years on, the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles in 1992 sparked more rioting. Not in Watts on this occasion, but through a mainly Korean area of LA, devastating the Dream of many business owners. The acquittal of the two LAPD officers involved in the beating sparked outrage in the LA black community and widened the rift of racial inequality throughout the entire country (Klein, 1997:3). The verdict from the King trial was seen as a direct attack on the civil liberties of African-Americans and their ability to live a life free from oppression and persecution. Such a threat was also seen as an infringement on their capacity to achieve the American Dream and reinforced the fact that racial equality and egalitarianism in the US has still not been realised. American citizens

are continually faced with the rising problem of violence. Streets have become a battleground where the elderly are beaten, terrified women are viscously attacked and raped, teenage gangs shoot it out for a patch of turf to sell their illegal drugs and, innocent children are caught in the crossfire of drive-by and school-yard shootings. For some, the answer to their economic problems is simply to take by force from others what they themselves do not have. While the disadvantaged continue to see others around them moving towards a Dream that they can never hope to achieve themselves, material gain by illegal or violent means continues to be a problem. A very real dilemma behind the violence in America is the issue of guns and their control within US society. On the one hand it

could be argued that the easy accessibility of guns in America is killing the Dream (especially in the ghettos) as death by gunshot wound is the most common way for young black males to die (Skolnick & Fyfe, 1993:65). On the other hand, some American citizens use guns as a means of protecting the Dream they have already achieved. The perceived threat to a citizen’s achievement of the Dream and the reason for possession of a firearm is the fear generated by America’s alarmingly high crime rate, including an average 20,000 homicides committed annually with firearms (Sugarmann, 1992). This is exemplified in the fact that there are over 200 million guns in America with 70 million gun owners and that a disturbingly high one quarter of all households owns a handgun (ibid:15).

Those Americans who have achieved the Dream are afraid to lose it and are prepared to protect it at all costs. Guns are seen as an easy solution and gun ownership is justified by people as protecting their Second Amendment rights – “I have a right to own my gun for my protection and to protect my family (ibid:22)”. CONCLUSIOn As far as the American Dream is concerned, it all depends on how you look at it. The US may be a welfare state for the rootless, or it may be a country with strong cultural power to unite people. To arrive in America as a rootless person and live in a small colony under the protection of one’s native culture and language, a person may live comfortably, but it must be a solitary existence, a light existence. It may not be easy to go into the core of