Is America still the land of the free?

Saying "land of the free" has always been more of a slogan than a real thing.  Yes, the US was largely "more free" than its contemporaries and even while that freedom only applied to white, Christian men, it was still a step ahead of most other nations.  But it was still a slogan.  Slogans are clumsy bits of wording used to advertise and/or make some group feel better about themselves.  It worked.

The only problem is that as slogans go, people cease understanding or thinking about the meaning of the words contained in the phrase and more just recite it out of rote recitation.  Like when I was a young Christian saying the "Lord's Prayer".  I can say it from beginning to end without thinking of it.  "Our father who art in heaven.  Hallowed be thy name. . ."  It's so programmed into my brain that — like a well-practiced song — I can just sprint through it without much thought as to its meaning.

This applies to almost any common prayer, song, poem, dance, pledge, etc.  They cease having meaning because people just mouth them as platitudes.  And what's worse, the cultural moment to continue mouthing those platitudes builds to a point where if you do not mouth them on cue, you're branded some kind of traitor.  Like when Stalin spoke before the Supreme Soviet — there was a requisite "standing ovation" that (like a lot of crazy patriotic and religious bullshit that takes on a life of its own) endured so long that people began passing out.  They clapped and clapped and clapped.  Anybody who stopped first would have been branded a traitor, so the social insanity drove sycophantic adults to applaud so long they bruised their fucking hands. 

That's what a slogan like this does.  No, I'm not saying "Land of the free" is equal to moronic communist legislators supporting a bloodthirsty dictator — I'm saying the compulsion to buy into these social feedback loops is rooted in the same mentality.  The need to be seen as being "a party guy" causes what might be smart people to repeat social garbage as if it were true just to avoid the pain of having to be honest with people.

The United States is free by almost any measure.  There might be unbending idealists out there who pule about how it's not free enough or how (in their best "No True Scotsman") try to redefine free to suit their argument.  But set that aside.  Nobody is saying that the US is perfect, only that by how we define freedom, the US is free with some notable flaws in how the nation works and some (I will admit) serious complications in how it handles some hot-button issues.  But that doesn't remove the "free" part from the US.  We're free.

But we're no longer "the land of the free" because the operative word "the" no longer applies (hinting at exclusivity or near exclusivity).  Canada is free.  Western Europe is very free.  Australia is free.  Japan is free.  South Korea is free.  Brazil is free.  South Africa is free.  A lot of places are free and even some "unfree" places like China, India and Russia are still fairly free, and — without a doubt — more free than the US was when the phrase "land of the free" was coined! 

So as a slogan it fails.  But if you're asking "Is the US free?"  The answer is "yes".  The US meets almost all of the rigorous definitions of human freedom.  But it no longer has a corner on the market of freedom.

19 Replies to “Is America still the land of the free?”

  1. America, despite publicity to the contrary, is actually freer now than it was during its past.This is exhibited by the fact:

    1. The franchise is now universal among all non-felon adults – Until 1966, the right to vote, a core tenet of democracy, was denied to African Americans who lived in the South. Until 1972 it was denied to 18 year old who were legally considered to be adults.
    2. There are no national ID cards – If you wish not have government issued identification in this country you can do so. If you are stopped by the police, you do have to identify yourself truthfully, but unless you are operating a vehicle you don’t need to have identification on your person.
    3. You can move wherever you choose to within the US and remain there for the rest of your life if you choose to – You don’t need permission to do this, nor do you have to provide a reason why you have done so.
    4. You can open a business in the US with few, if any, problems – Any type of legal business that you chose to, so long as it operates within a exceptionally wide range of limitations.
    5. With the exception of some limited classified documents there are very nearly no restrictions on the free flow of information – From going to your local library and checking out books on subjects which are banned in many other nations, to filing information requests with your government at all levels and receiving detailed information on its operation, to being able to attend mandated annual shareholder meetings for publicly traded companies, Americans are awash in information that many nations restrict or simply ban access to entirely.
    6. You are free to travel abroad – While the recent requirement of a passport to go to nearby foreign destinations is uncomfortable, the fact remains that Americans are very rarely denied the right to travel to any country. Returning to the US is almost never a problem for the overwhelming majority of citizens who do as such.
    7. To search your home a warrant is almost always required – Unlike many nations on Earth, the authorities simply can’t break down your door and search your home without at least obtaining a warrant to do so. If this warrant is inaccurate or based upon false information, you have legal avenues to redress the grievance.
    8. You can say anything that you want – While there may be consequences for saying certain things (Yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater for example) even those consequences will be minimal compared to other nations, if not non-existent.
    9. Your access to weapons for self-defense is only marginally curtailed – While certain states and individual municipalities have attempted to make this somewhat onerous (looking at you New York City and California) in the majority of the US, purchasing weapons for self defense is not an issue, or not a serious one. This is not true in most other countries.
    10. The legal system, while it could use some serious repairs, is still largely free and fair – You’ll get a trial by a jury of your peers if you request one, habeas corpus exists and cannot be denied, cruel and unusual punishments are outlawed and dangerous and subversive legal practices such as bills of attainder and double jeopardy are illegal.

    While no country or grouping of people allows its citizens or members total freedom, the United States offers many more freedoms than are offered by the overwhelming majority of other nations on Earth

  2. America used to be more free than every nation on Earth. It leapfrogged the rest of the world in human rights when it established the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (although chunks of them, or the ideas in them, were cribbed from earlier British documents).

    This is no longer true. European countries leapfrogged the United States with the passage of the European Convention on Human Rights and the creation of the European Court of Human Rights.

    The American Bill of Rights is rather old and creaky now and missing some important features, not least the Equal Rights Amendment. Also, as it contains no prohibition on torture in interrogation, it took until 1938 for the Supreme Court to decide that evidence obtained under torture was inadmissible. This is why the CIA got away with torture under the Bush II administration; there was nothing in the Constitution to say that they couldn't do it.

    It's also completely absurd that the Constitution did not guarantee the equal protection of the laws to all persons right from the outset. We had to wait for the 14th Amendment for that.

    The Bill of Rights needs a thorough update.

  3. Bernie Sanders said it best at his speech at Georgetown University on November 19th.  In part, he said…
    ——
    In 1944, in his State of the Union speech, President Roosevelt  outlined what he called a second Bill of Rights. This is one of the most  important speeches ever made by a president but, unfortunately, it has  not gotten the attention that it deserves.

    In that remarkable speech this is what Roosevelt stated, and I quote:  “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual  freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.  Necessitous men are not free men.” End of quote.

    In other words, real  freedom must include economic security. That was Roosevelt’s vision 70  years ago. It is my vision today. It is a vision that we have not yet  achieved. It is time that we did.

    What Roosevelt was stating in 1944, what Martin Luther King, Jr.  stated in similar terms 20 years later and what I believe today, is that  true freedom does not occur without economic security.

    People are not truly free when they are unable to feed their family.  People are not truly free when they are unable to retire with dignity.  People are not truly free when they are unemployed or underpaid or when  they are exhausted by working long hours. People are not truly free when  they have no health care.

  4. For the many valid reasons discussed in the other answers, I believe America is one of the lands of the free. The current sociopolitical climate, however, is increasingly jeopardizing some of our basic freedoms.

    1. We are told be politically correct in our language.   

    Radical elements on the left that dominate American media and academia (and consequently, exert more influence than analogous factions on the right) seek every opportunity to regulate speech and thought. Anyone who fails to fall in line is punished and derided as a bigot, racist, sexist or some other derogatory term by the PC police.

    A good example of this phenomenon can be found in the story reported earlier this week about the "Bias-free Language Guide" imposed by the University of New Hampshire (UNH) on its students. Among the many words it wishes to ban – because these words do not inherently include diversity – are American,mothering, fathering, senior citizen, homosexual, poor rich, and blind person.

          2. We are growing accustomed to thought control.

    Doublethink, the practice of holding two contradictory beliefs at the same time and accepting both of them, is a mode of political indoctrination prevalent in our society.

    America's decade long war in the Middle East in hopes of bringing peace is one example. Identity politics, which dominate our culture today, also often require a good amount of doublethink.

    I'll end with this quote from Orwell's dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949):

  5. Can America still call itself land of the free (see notes)? It seems there are places in America where an employer can discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation. When asked why it was okay to discriminate against the LGBT community, and not on grounds of race, sex or religion, he said the others are not a choice. Gay is NOT a choice. Religion is.

    Yes. And here's why:

    1. While it is not politically correct to say so, those business owners and employees who favor a denial of service law are claiming that their freedom to act in concert with their religious beliefs has been unfairly restricted by requiring them to provide service to a certain class of people. (It is interesting that they have no problem serving everyone — without even asking — when they work at Wal-Mart or Starbucks or McDonalds, but it becomes a problem for a baker, a caterer, or a wedding photographer.)
    2. That means we have a question of competing rights. On one side is the right to service of anyone ready, willing, and able to pay for such service. On the other is the right to free exercise of religion without government restraint.
    3. Fortunately, the United States Constitution provides a remedy for questions of competing rights. It is the third, and co-equal branch of government, the Judiciary. That's right, kids — all of you who slept through civics class — the federal judiciary is the equal of the congress and the president. They are not just a bunch of meddlers making proclamations about stuff whenever thay feel like it. For them to rule, a person must decide that the actions of government — including laws that are passed — unfairly limit his or her rights under the constitution, and enter into the lengthy and expensive process of litigation in order to ask the courts to rule on a question of competing rights.
    4. Even as you read this, test cases are being prepared in those states that have enacted denial of service laws. As soon as those laws go into effect, denial of service will be challenged and suits will be brought, probably first in state court, and eventually in federal court.
    5. In the long run, the Supreme Court of the United States will be asked to rule on the question of these competing rights. At that point we will learn if it is fair for a person of faith to claim primacy of religious belief in a secular transaction or if a secular business must serve all customers who are ready, willing, and able to pay for service.
    6. And that is why we are the land of the free. We have ways to resolve questions of competing rights, even in the face of the tyranny of the majority.

    You wouldn't want a wedding cake from a baker who is bigoted against you, anyway. Who knows what might be in it!

  6. Thanks for the A2A, Tindale.

    I think the answer to that question depends largely on the individual's race, orientation, circumstances, etc.

    I also think that we all can agree that freedom is a state of mind.

    I'm a 48-year old white Deaf woman. I'm also a mother of two white Deaf sons (ages 9 and 6 1/2).

    In America, I can live my life generally as I see fit. I can vote. I can drive. I can hold a job. I can own property. I can make decisions for myself and for my children. I am a college graduate, and if I wanted to, I could go for my master's and a Ph.D. degree, and so can my children, when they graduate from high school.

    Sadly, in too many countries, I know Deaf people who aren't allowed to drive. I know Deaf people who don't even get education. I know Deaf people who cannot hold jobs (because of discrimination). I know Deaf people who have their decisions made for them by hearing people in their lives. They are truly oppressed and colonized.

    America is not perfect. Since Reagan years, America has been going in a direction that I do not like. America has become increasingly beholden to corporate interests, and that has had a negative effect on politics. It also pains me to see that Americans of color and Americans of other sexual orientations are treated differently and that in their lives, they have to look over their shoulder all the time. That should't be the case in America.

    As a white Deaf woman, I do feel free (and somewhat privileged), especially when I look at white/colored Deaf people's lives in other countries. Looking at their lives and seeing how oppressed they are makes me realize I am truly lucky. I have done my part to fight oppression and colonization whenever possible, and will continue to do so until I am no longer living.

  7. I am going to suggest something with a more positive outlook.

    "Can America still call itself land of the free (see notes)?

    It seems there are places in America where an employer can discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation.
    When asked why it was okay to discriminate against the LGBT community, and not on grounds of race, sex or religion, he said the others are not a choice.
    Gay is NOT a choice. Religion is."

    When Americans speak positively about their own country, one point that sometimes comes up is that our system of the 50 separate sovereign states of one United States provides diverse crucibles for experimentation in democracy.  We have 50 different democracies, each trying out ways of defining liberties and freedoms; rights and responsibilities; government's essential role and fundamental limits.

    Winston Churchill recognized this, about the United States, "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they've tried everything else."

    As I see it, we have 50 branch laboratories at work in parallel.  Some of them are bound to do something unwise.  They won't see it as the wrong thing.  They have to learn that truth from their fellow states.

    The segregation of the Southern States was well known, tolerated, even sworn by, among the Whites of that region.  But up until the late 1950's and 1960's, the extent and harshness of the inequality was neither understood nor discussed much in the Northern States. Northern whites were absolutely not universal paragons of virtue, but their revulsion at the sight of dogs, fire hoses and billy clubs in response to request for fairness and equality was an essential factor in bringing about civil rights.

    The Civil Rights movement needed a Governor George Wallace, caught in photographs, blocking the University of Alabama schoolhouse door.  The movement for equality needed the racists and the bigots standing, facing the flashes of the nation's cameras, appearing small and hateful, as something not representing America.

    This recent wave of repressive, retro social legislation by the states is hopefully the spite work of those who realize they have lost the war.  Kind of like Saddam Hussein, torching Kuwaiti oil wells. Last gasp of some good riddance, soon to be undone.

    I think it is healthy for the nation to have a very public, national airing of these issues.  Ugly thoughts, kept private, and only discussed among like-minded people will only receive positive reinforcement.  It takes public display and responses from those with other views, to either bring about an awakening or unwind the harm with greater force.

    Short of a few behaviors such as female genital mutilation and denying proven medication for one's child at risk of the child's death, the US offers incredible leeway in the practice of one's religion.  The boundaries are clear.  The rights stop when they impede the rights of others.

    If one's religion does not like the modern world, one is free to retreat from it.  The Amish have found their peace.

    However, running a bigoted business – a public venture occupying a niche that could otherwise be occupied by an alternative company, one prosperous in the niche – but without the bigotry – harms those the former business does not want to serve. 

    This is not a new idea.  Any business that is a blight; when its operation harms the prosperity, peace and lives of its neighbors; that business must eventually move or close down.

    Eventually we will come to see this true, even in the context of gaps in patient care and services at religious affiliated hospitals.

    Thanks for asking me to answer.

  8. No.  We are the opposite.  We incarcerate and disenfranchise more of our citizens than any other developed nation in modern history.  It really is hard to overstate this fact.  See the three papers below.

    Page on bjs.gov
    Page on princeton.edu
    Page on sentencingproject.org

    Aside from incarceration you can answer this question by thinking of things you could do and then asking the question, "Can I do that and if so do I need a permit or government approval to do so."   You will find that most of the freedoms you take for granted are really not freedoms at all.

    Of course the big one that people use to claim we are still the land of the free is the first amendment.  That is indeed a good sign of freedom.  However, we do not all have equal access to speech.  Now that money is protected under first amendment rights our freedom to use speech to affect change in our government and society has been effectively eliminated due to the huge disparity between those who have money to spend and those who do not.  When 1/10% of the population can use money to drown out or invalidate whatever "free" speech they don't like in any area of our society I find it hard to consider our 1st amendment rights a real success of freedom.

    P.S. I'm going to edit my answer just slightly in response to Dan's very long winded, history of slogans, answer which in the end was just "No".  The substance of the question being asked is comparative between the US and other nations.   All else being relatively equal as far as press, speech, ownership, and all the other properties that may be included in a definition of freedom the one in which we are head and shoulders, 10x the worse of our peers is incarceration.  Calling this a logical fallacy is a real leap of rhetorical nonsense.  If you want to put the US in the same group as Japan, Brazil, etc… for comparison while at the same time ignoring this mastodon in the room, this great singularity of our society that separates us from the rest of the developed world, you have completely missed the substance of the question.

  9. Calling it "the land of the free" implies some sort of exclusivity, which could be misleading.

    Are Americans "free"? By and large, yes. Americans are freer than citizens of most other countries by many measures (freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom to move about the country, freedom to own property and material goods, freedom to start a business, etc.)

    The answer gets a little more complicated when compared to other developed/industrialized countries, which is probably a more fair comparison to make. There are other countries that are as free, or arguably, more free than the US. Certainly your demographic background significantly affects your degree of freedom in the US. If you're white, straight, Christian, and male, you're free to do almost anything (legal).

    Compared to other countries, the US has a staggering prison population. Furthermore, the majority of those incarcerated are from minority and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. It could be argued that if you're poor and black/latino, you have fewer freedoms in the US.

    There also seems to be a trend towards curtailing freedoms that once existed. This is done in the name of security, fear mongering, and politics. The freedom to vote, for instance, is being challenged by the creation of rules that could disenfranchise many sections of society – the requirement of voter ID cards, for instance, or even something as simple as the fact that elections are held on a workday. The freedom to assemble/protest is under fire (literally) from increasingly militarized police departments in places like Ferguson, MO.

    So if you're asking "are Americans free?" the answer is yes, for the most part, most Americans are free. But if you're asking "is America the beacon of freedom it once was?", I think that's a lot more questionable.

  10. There are powerful forces attempting to make it something other than that, but, for now, a United States citizen is still freer that most of humanity. More free choice, more voice in politics, more economic opportunity. That said, it still has less economic freedom than a lot of developed nations. Economic freedom is hampered in the United States by:

    (1) Backward labor laws, which restrict workers ability to organize and negotiate. Employers in many jurisdictions are free to punish workers for negotiating and gives abusive employers the power to hold wages and benefits down to near poverty levels. This prevents the market from adjusting wages to the middle class norm for a larger share of American jobs.

    (2) Lack of national or state health insurance. This basic service has been provided by governments in some nations for over a century. Like sewer systems, highways, water, and power and communication grids, every citizen needs to have access to health care to be a full participant in modern society. Markets cannot provide these services uniformly because market pressures operate at an individual, not a community level. That is to say, you don’t have a sewer and water lines or a hospital for for the entire community unless the community decides that infrastructure needs to be built. Market pressure can only provide services on standard levels for the wealthier members of the community.

    Also, of course, this failure of market pressure has allowed medical costs to hyper-inflate in the United States to the point of consuming two to three times the share of the Gross National Product that it does in other developed nations. This is felt at the level of individual freedom because a minor affliction (a child’s sickness or a damaged tooth) can cost easily cost an American one to three months of his or her earned income. A major illness or injury can cost a working class American an amount ($20,000 to $50,000 to a half million dollars) that is simply impossible to pay back in a working lifetime. As a result, the threat of a lifetime of medical debt hangs over every American and their economic choices are hobbled by the need to have a job with insurance benefits at some level.

    (3) Antipathy to education. This is the most recent of the threats to American freedom, having been created out of almost nothing over the last forty years. The United States was founded by political and business factions that believed that an educated work force and an educated citizenry were vital to the survival of democracy and the nation’s economic well-being. Over the last generation, two new political movements arose that consider public education to be a threat to their view of American culture and their political power. The corporatist faction considers public schools to be a violation of rights to property. Their general goal is an American society governed by a wealthy elite, as much of Western Europe and the Americas were in the 19th Century. Public schools, as well as being a drain on propertied wealth, raise a working class populace that cannot be readily controlled by their social superiors. The populist conservatives allied with them consider public schools in general and universities in particular to be a threat to their religious beliefs and to their vision of traditional culture.

    As these movements have grown in power, states like Alabama now have the majority of their children in private schools segregated by religious and racial category. Other states, like Wisconsin, have essentially ended state funding for the university systems founded when they achieved statehood in the 19th Century. Students in many fields can only get advanced degrees by acquiring crippling debt loads that restrict their economic choices for decades after graduation.

    (4) Legalized bribery and influence peddling – Powerful factions on the political right and some more centrist base their philosophy on wealth and its use being a basis of personal freedom. They hold that anyone who has wealth should be able to use it to purchase political action and power. Over the last forty years, they have brought pressure on the political system to pass a series of laws and generate court decisions that allow wealthy individuals and corporations to pour billions of dollars into political action, purely to add to their wealth and freedom of action over the interests of the rest of the citizenry. As an example, as of this writing (December of 2017) a tax bill has been passed in the American congress that reduces corporate taxes by a trillion and a half dollars, while adding a similar amount to the tax burden of wage-earning Americans. This bill is opposed by about 75% of the electorate, but it is considered vital by the ruling party in congress. Per their own public statements, their “donor base” of wealthy conservatives consider the tax bill their due for all the money they contribute to the ruling party. No matter what punishment they might endure from the voting citizens, the leaders of the congress feel they cannot survive without the support of the “donor base” and they have to deliver what they feel they were paid to deliver.

    There are other, more detailed threats to American freedom currently, but these are what I see as the most powerful.

    Addenda: The follow up to the ruling party’s tax plan . . . Ryan says Republicans to target welfare, Medicare, Medicaid spending in 2018

    Paul Ryan is an Objectivist: a follower of Ayn Rand. He firmly believes that government is little more than a criminal exercise and the Social Security system is theft. Most of the rest of his caucus believes that the people who receive social security and medicare payment—this included tens of millions of American retirees—are parasites on the economy and the body politic whose life and character would be improved if they were removed from government support and allowed to fend for themselves.

    None of this a secret, exactly. Of the Americans who are aware of this belief system, not more than 10% fully support it. However, the politicians in the conservative caucuses almost never voice their beliefs directly where it matters, on TV and radio broadcasts. They rely instead on a standard mix of resentment politics, racial signalling, and anti-establishment slogans. Their voting constituents, including millions of aging Americans dependent on social security and medicare to stay alive, are so indoctrinated to listen only to the standard republican narrative that they will not believe a newspaper account in which their own congress expresses a desire to strip them of access to their heart medications, cancer treatments, etc. Which would, literally, kill many of them.

  11. That slogan is nothing but nationalistic nonsense.

    I think it’s safe to assume that during the majority of American history, during which it had slavery, peonage, black codes, and Jim Crow, America was not “free” for the people affected, to say nothing of the fact that the entire country is predicated on the genocide of indigenous peoples, the theft of their land, and the subsequent exploitation the few who remained, which continues to this day.

    Fast forward to today, and we have the same problems in slightly different forms: we have mass incarceration and, despite having only 5% of the world’s population, 25% of the world’s prisoners, including more black people in prison than were enslaved in 1850. Those people are not “free” by any reasonable definition of the word. A better slogan might be “the land of the incarcerated.”

    We’re also spied on by our government to the extent that many feel the need to encrypt their online communications just to avoid some bureaucrat using it as a pretext to persecute them. This has already led people to censor their speech online, due to fear of being placed on a list for expressing their opinions. To pilfer from Chris Hedges, this is the relationship between a master and a slave.

    We have innocent people sent to torture camps for indefinite periods of time, with no trial.

    And so on.

    To answer the question, the US was never the land of the free for everyone. It was the land of the free for the oppressors. Whether the US lives up to its potential or crumbles under the weight of its festering sins of oppression remains to be seen. I’m hoping for the former, but we’ll see.

    Update: Having read some of the answers to this question by people who seem to think they’re being moderate, I have some advice. When considering questions like this, take a moment to ask yourself, “How would a black or indigenous person answer this question throughout history?” Many of you have failed to do this basic thing.

  12. “Now this sort of orders given to an American population eager to please its masters, is not an happenstance: it’s training graciously provided by the Deep State, another occasion for Americans, in this case rather young Americans (most climbers don’t make old bones) to obey orders. I sent the following comment, fully expecting racist, tribal, hypernationalistic abuse of the sort which passes for normal in the Anglo-Saxon world this days, regarding France (and I was not disappointed). Yes, philosophy rests on experiments, just like science:

    I love the way Americans take orders, thus showing they are not worthy to lead the world, civilizationally speaking, as they effectively do. This sort of self-humiliation would NEVER work in France. Instead little American sheep take unconstitutional orders with alacrity, pride and total obedience. They should be ashamed of themselves, instead, and the rest of the world should be afraid. Very afraid. Indeed, who is this Obama? An employee of We The People! Wake up, People, instead of just goose stepping proudly in the sunset of the dignity of the human spirit. The meaning and appeal of real climbing is freedom. Taking orders, the exact opposite.” by

    Obama Closes Yosemite

  13. No. Just look at the PC speech police, the war against guns, tobacco, etc. If you think you are free, criticize the President too harshly and see if you find the SS on your doorstep soon afterward.

    A hundred years ago, (maybe 50 anywhere outside NYC) you could go into almost any large hardware store and buy a rifle, handgun, ammo and dynamite for that matter. No ID, background check and no questions; just pay and walk out with them. Now, if you buy certain chemicals, you will be suspected of either bomb or drug making, and someone will be watching your every move.

    Try carrying a gun on your hip or in a shoulder holster unconcealed where it is legal. Or take photographs or videos downtown in a city or near any place deemed a 'potential terrorism target' by the police. If you're not that adventurous, there are videos of people doing these things on Youtube.

  14. No

    Patriot Act created a survelliance state

    The War on Drugs was started by Nixon to target political enemies and the War continues on a false pretense[1].

    Politicians do not represent voters, but big money interests and are increasing corporate rights over civilian rights, including the right to censor civilians if net neutrality is repealed.

    News outlets in the United States are being forced to register as foreign agent[2]despite there being no evidence, particularly in the case of RT, of these outlets pushing foreign agendas.

    Donald Trump wants to make a secret spy network to combat the ‘deep state’[3]which could be used similar to that of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany. (War on ‘fake news’ also reminiscent of 'Lügenpresse,' in Nazi Germany).

    The US provides military aid to more than 70% of the World’s dictators[4], demonstrating clearly the US’ idea of spreading freedom and democracy.

    The US functions as an oligarchy[5], is now classified as a flawed democracy[6], and elections are entirely flawed[7].

    Habeas Corpus was suspended in the United States under Barack Obama[8].

    States want to put laws in place to allow protesters to be run over legally[9].

    Protesters are often attacked in the US whether it be with pepper spray, dogs, bean bags, even actual firearms by authorities[10].

    I can keep going but here is a summary.

    The United States is actively engaged in war and fueling big money interests at the expense of the people. Protests efforts are often countered violently and the mainstream media avoids the conversation.

    Free speech is coming to an end as both extremes (such as Social Justice Warriors or those on the alt-right) try to dictate what people can or cannot say. Even things that are said are monitored.

    There is a war on what little press there is and the mainstream press is corporate owned and still perpetuated corporate interests, feeding into the lack of representation people feel.

    The government has the ability to crack down on dissent and has already done so.

    The US is not the land of the free, but it is on its way to being a land in chains.

    Footnotes

    [1] Report: Nixon's war on drugs targeted black people

    [2] Russia labels Voice of America and 8 other U.S. media 'foreign agents'

    [3] Trump reportedly wants secret spy network to combat the ‘deep state’

    [4] US Provides Military Aid To More Than 70 Percent Of World’s Dictatorships

    [5] https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&…

    [6] https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&…

    [7] American elections ranked worst among Western democracies. Here’s why.

    [8] https://www.globalresearch.ca/th

    [9] States that have introduced bills to protect drivers who run over protesters

    [10] VIDEO: Dakota Access Pipeline Company Attacks Native American Protesters with Dogs and Pepper Spray

  15. I would say: maybe.  Depends on who you're comparing the U.S. to.

    Are we more free than a good number of nations that have authoritarian or near-authoritarian laws? Yeah, probably.  At least our government isn't censoring what we read in print (such as multiple Middle Eastern nations), and it's perfectly okay to criticize the dominant religion. Or POTUS. Or whoever.

    But the U.S. falls behind other developed western nations on other fronts- the example you give being one.  We're not free from unreasonable searches and seizures despite our Constitutional amendment to the contrary (civil forfeitures).  We're not free to paint our house any color we want- or even any style we want (thank HOAs for that).  We're also not free to homestead or attempt self-sufficiency, thanks to numerous city or local ordinances which prohibit urban gardens or keeping small livestock.  Some Americans don't even have the freedom to live where they want simply because they don't have the wherewithal to move away to somewhere better.  And I think one could make the argument that living without fear of a serious illness or accident bankrupting one is a freedom many others enjoy but Americans don't- as is being able to go to college (or not) without incurring crushing debt for 15-20 years after.

    Here's a few articles that might shed some light on how free the U.S. really is. Judge for yourself how "free" we are…

    United States Drops In Overall Freedom Ranking

    10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

  16. The USA punishes people who attempt to leave the USA.

    “WHAT”! I hear you cry!

    Oh yes, it does.

    The USA is the biggest open prison on the planet.

    Citizenship based taxation.

    Repeal FATCA . com

    Republicans overseas . com /FATCA.

    Isaac Brock society.

  17. Still largely free, in the sense that the government in many places in the US imposes few restrictions on what you can and cannot do compared to many places on Earth.  If you want to start a business, there are huge variations between states and, within states, among municipalities.  The same is true of most other personal liberties.  The number of government-imposed restrictions on individual economic liberty *IS* demonstrably greater than it was, say 100 or even 50 years ago.  But in at least some states, these restrictions haven't gotten so bad that they throttle creativity.

    As for the comments above about poverty and freedom, I think there may be a confusion of "freedom" and "equality."

  18. Actually, It never was. The Star Spangled Banner was written when it was legal to own slaves. The phrase "land of the free" used to be more inspirational than aspiritional. It was used to inspire Americans to be patriotic. No one really wanted this land to belong to just about everyone.

    It's only in the last 60 years that we became serious about aspiring to the values that America was founded on. In the long run, we are freer than ever before.

    Are we as free as we can be? No. Can every AMerican reach his/her natural potential? No. There's still work to be done

  19. America can be "the land of the free" but you have to work at it.
    Too many people are uninformed or misinformed about our freedoms and responsibilities, including (especially) those in power.
      Citizens need to educate themselves on what their rights and freedoms are and when necessary, educate others. This may be uncomfortable when interacting with people who are in a position of authority (police, politicians),but these are the very people who need to be reminded that their power comes from the governed, not from the government.
     Know your rights. Read the Constitution. Read the Federalist Papers. Know why people died for your freedoms,and refuse to let those deaths be in vein and this can indeed be "the land of the free". Teach these things to your children and maybe America can be free for another generation.

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