Recently I had the good fortune to travel to the United States for a week. It was, to say the least, an eye-opener.
Among the grandeur of the superwealth that I witnessed in New York I saw sights that for me were emotionally draining and shocking.
I went out of my way to talk to New Yorkers. One black man, a vendor selling fridge magnets and other gadgets, was a US army veteran who served in Vietnam. He looked twenty years younger than his actual age of seventy-two. Born and bred in New York, he told me how they are trying to push his people out of the area with exorbitant costs for rent and how they are trying to charge people for crossing from Queens into Manhattan as a method of keeping the poor from that area.
“This is my state, and I was born and bred here,” he said with passion. We shook hands, and I wished him well, saying how delighted I was to meet him.
Everywhere you go in New York there are all types of security people, armed to the teeth, which gives an uneasy fear to your mental being. You wonder what type of night they had before their work started. Are they annoyed about debt? Have they anger issues as they stroll the streets? Inside museums or exhibitions there are security people everywhere.
The subway is a disgusting place to go to. There are no access facilities for people with disabilities. Each station stinks of urine and is dank and run down. Customer information is deplorable. It reminded me of the London underground in the early 80s. On the streets at night rubbish bags are left piling up, and the bags are left everywhere.
I witnessed one black person lying on a pavement as hundreds walked by, just as a matter of course. People begging everywhere you go, some with limbs missing, others with that gaunt look on them. Food is very expensive, which is hard to understand, given the massive agriculture sector in the United States.
I have always wanted to see the 9/11 memorial and was overcome with the sadness as you read the different personalities who died. Such a waste! There is an explanation of how al-Qa‘ida came to prominence, yet no mention of how its leadership was financed and supported by the United States during the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, or how the barbaric theocracy in Saudi Arabia was the home of the kidnappers of the aircraft that blew up the Twin Towers.
The Martin Luther King memorial was inspirational, yet again no mention that King was a socialist. His various important statements around the walls are a reminder that there is a better way for all of humanity. One can only hope that some day the majority in the United States will be free—free at last.