Are We On the Brink of the Decline and Fall of the American Empire?

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Photo by Lucas Franco on Unsplash

“Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States,” posited America’s first social scientist, Dr. William Edward Burghardt Dubois, one day in the early years of the 20th century.

I stumbled across Dubois’s words about 50 years after he wrote them and have spent the last 40 years pondering which shall it be.

Will America develop an educational system that will defeat ignorance or will ignorance dominate the mental capacity of Americans and be the Achilles heel which will cause humpty dumpty to fall off the wall.

Recently, I posed this question to my social media community. I was interested to know how others viewed this conundrum given the current status of American Presidential politics.

Just this week, the President and his lawyer postulated that the President is above the law. He can pardon anyone he wants and if he killed the former Director of the FBI, he could not be prosecuted for having murdered him.

Should their philosophy prevail, the rule of law goes out the window and American democracy will be one step closer to annihilation. I am disturbed because far too few Americans find this and other nonsensical positions of the president to be normal. We are living in a time when the abnormal becomes normal and normalcy becomes abnormal. Where ignorance is perceived as truth and truth as ignorance.

All respondents to my social media query save two, opined they hoped America would prevail over ignorance, but they feared ignorance was about to gain the upper hand on the United States.

One respondent, who did not agree with the others, is of the opinion it’s “Too late,” ignorance has such a pervacious grip on American democracy, until the proverbial “Fat Lady” can belt out the last chorus at any time.

The other dissenting respondent argued, the crux of the problem is found in the American DNA dating back to 1776.

“Sadly, for all of us the latter will prevail,” Britt Lyle, who holds dual citizenship in America and Ethiopia said.

“Starting from its inception, America has been so steeped in her racist dogma, that the likelihood of a sudden or even an incremental change is extremely remote. America’s solution to systemic racism and white privilege depends on them admitting the truth about their behavior,” Lyle posited.

Lyle, educated in jurisprudence at Florida A & M University College of Law, lays out his case for “Time-UP” for the United States:

“The reason is well known, America is a racist nation, founded on racist policies, codified in their constitution, prosperous and wealthy by 300 plus years of free labor and the commission of genocide on the Native-American population.”

Given its history, Lyle advocates a seven prong agenda to redeem the soul of America from the past evils of the majority population and reconciliation of the races for national and humanitarian goodwill. Those seven points are as follows:

  1. America first has to admit to its sins.The sins of enslavement at the creation of the nation, centuries of institutionalized racism and white supremacy, organized terror, murder, destruction of property, fraud, willful neglect and the purposeful omission of the contributions of Black Americans to the security and prosperity of this nation since its founding.

No sooner than Lyle lays out this ambitious plan to defeat ignorance before ignorance defeats the United States, he nails the crux of the problem on its head.

“The problem is that systemic racism and white privilege are part of the American psyche. Both are the cornerstones of American wealth, power and success. Thus, America will never willingly relinquish its systematic racism and white privilege or the destructive and divisive power that comes with these twin evils,” Lyle offered.

Ignorance, to paraphrase Jimi Hendrix in Voodoo Child, is standing up next to a mountain and is chopping it down, not with bombs, but with the side of its hand.

Written by

Harvey is Living Now Book Awards 2020 Bronze Medalist for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. Available at

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