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The American interpretation: American politics abroad


Politics: a topic that is often accompanied by feelings of anger and anguish, but for some, feelings of inspiration and motivation to make change. Despite how it may impact each person individually, politics is a topic that makes its way into every American household at least once within each four year presidential term. 

With the election year quickly approaching, I’ve already witnessed this discussion arising among close friends even while studying abroad. I find that this topic proves to be much more interesting when observing European citizens’ thoughts about American politics.

During my time abroad, I’ve noticed that many Europeans have the perception that most Americans embrace conservative political ideals, particularly around gun control, with many taking notice of the inability of Americans to come to an agreement on the matter.

Europeans also discuss—as do Americans—genocide and its influence on modern history. With social media providing a medium that allows for global information sharing, both Europeans and Americans have been present to witness an ongoing genocide of people in America, primarily towards those within the LGBTQ+ community and other minorities. 

The term genocide has deep meaning and is usually associated within the American education system with Nazi Germany during the Second World War, but it is a tragedy that has occurred throughout other regions of the world and has a deeper meaning than extermination. Genocide is “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a group of people because of their ethnicity, nationality, religion, or race.” While most are informed on the meaning of the word, which was coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1944—combining the Greek prefix genos, meaning tribe or race and the Latin suffix cide, meaning killing—many are unaware of the 10 stages of genocide and the stages that lead to stage nine, which is associated to the word’s general meaning: extermination. 

These stages, as described by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust foundation are as follows: classification, symbolization, discrimination, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, persecution, extermination and denial. 

By that definition, with certain laws and bans being placed on different aspects of education and lifestyle, the U.S. has entered stage seven of genocide.

In 2022, the number of book bans have doubled, with an emphasis on organized campaigns working to remove titles that focus on topics such as LGBTQ rights, gender identity and racial inequality. 

A bill in Tennessee restricts “adult cabaret performances” in public and in the presence of children. This bill also prevents these performances from occurring within 1,000 feet of schools, places of worship and other public areas. The bill was passed alongside another bill that prevents transgender minors in Tennessee from receiving gender-affirming care. This directly prevents minors from integral steps of the transitioning process, which include receiving hormones, puberty blockers and surgery.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the “Stop the Sexualization of Children Act” – commonly referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which applies to children between kindergarten and third grade. The law bans discussing LGBTQ+ topics with children, and gives parents an option to sue a school district if the policy is violated. The bill says that “newly implemented sexual education curricula [that encourages] discussion of sexuality, sexual orientation, transgenderism, and gender ideology,” falls under this category. Furthermore, the bill also prohibits public institutions, specifically mentioning public libraries and public educational institutions, from possessing any material that “[targets] preadolescent children” and teaches them about concepts pertaining to gender transition among other topics.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas said, in his concurring opinion on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, that the court should “reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” cases that concern Americans’ fundamental privacy, due process and equal protection rights.

These four recent examples fall within stage seven of genocide, but these are not the only ones. 

As a country that serves as an international example of democracy and freedom, it is troubling to see personal liberties and rights being put at risk by some of the country’s most influential politicians. 

When citizens and politicians of other countries are able to recognize the makings of a disaster at our doorstep, and when they begin to criticize our approach and offer remedies to issues that plague our nation, it is our obligation to step up, speak out and act. 

This is my personal call to action, and if it was not for my time spent abroad, I would not have been given the opportunity to witness this perception of America. 

When stepping outside the borders of one’s home, you can sometimes return with many more benefits than you initially assumed you would. 

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Stephen Gangi, Managing Editor
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