For one of my final papers I have been given this fascinating scenario to consider:

Aliens come to earth.  They make America an offer for a trade.  They will offer us amazing technology that will allow the nation to wipe out its national debt, clean up the environment (until its restored to its original pristine condition), and develop a source of cheap, clean, inexhaustible energy (that, presumably, would secure America’s position as a world economic, military, social, and cultural powerhouse for decades well into the future).  The only thing they ask is for America to give them all of its citizens of African descent.

The offer from the aliens is compelling, and it’s debated. There are pros and cons for trading all of America’s black people for such great technology and the sure promise of a bright and prosperous future. A national referendum whereby people vote via telephone in the privacy of their own homes leads America to make a decision.

Do we make the trade or not?

We were given the question to consider on the 1st day of class knowing this would be our final project.  On the first day, I said “yes, absolutely, America would trade us away in a hot second…even the Christians.”  As the class moved on I got hopeful.  Seeing how deplorable life was for slaves and then seeing hope and change made me reconsider that perhaps the majority of this place could pull together to make a decision of integrity.  After all, what other nation in the entire world would relinquish an institution of slavery that was so deeply imbedded in the foundation of our country and in which produced a massive amount of wealth & world domination?  No other nation.  There are many, many reasons why America would not make the trade.

On the other hand, one could argue -looking only at history- not at who has “white friends” one could make a solid case that America has pursued its wealth, comfort and national security always at the direct expense of another people group.  Consider just a few of the people groups we have historically bullied: (and that is a giant understatement)…

-The Native Americans were brutally removed from their own land.

-The Africans were kidnapped & taken across the globe to be used in cruel & deplorable chattel slavery & a lifetime of bonded servitude.

-The birth of our very own terrorist movement, the Ku Klux Klan was backed by those in power making life for the early freed slaves a living nightmare.  All the while blacks had to fight tooth-n-nail for basic human rights: voting, marriage, justice, freedom from lynchings & terror, right down to being able to sit on the same bench as a white man, let alone go to the same school or live in the same neighborhoods.

-Over 120,000 Japanese-Americans were forced into internment camps set up in America after the bombing of Pearl Harbor because people were filled with hysteria.

Our country has been founded on bullying, tyranny, theft and murder.  We are a giant 400 year experiment started by a teeny tiny country who had a big dream of making half the world their own, at any cost –to anyone.

Honestly, I’m hard press to believe that for the right amount of money & success we would not -yet again- sell our souls to the devil to keep the American dream alive.  For God & country we’d say!  For hope in humanity!  The justifications would roll in and sound so sweet it would become ridiculous not to take the offer, we’d say.  I believe in the total depravity of man.  We are capable of profound evil and there is no temptress as sexy as wealth & power –especially on a mass scale.

Needless to say, I’m concluding for my paper, sadly, that I believe right down to the bottom of my heart that America would make the trade.  After all my research, I cannot conclude any differently.  We have only advanced in certain matters.  After all, we still largely ignore the needs of the world and the ones who actually get into our country illegally we try to toss out like old trash.  Even Christians ideas and standards on immigration leaves me cold.  Why have we forgotten that human beings are human beings no matter where they were born?  My disappointment and disillusionment with our treatment of the world’s poor runs so deep.  I’m convinced Americans are the most selfish, greedy mugs on the planet.

I wish I had more hope in humanity.  More hope in the powers that be.  More hope in America.  But I don’t.  I hope in God, which is about as much hope as I can afford right now.  Hope is costly for me.

But when it comes to this “great nation,” I have hit the point of no return.  As they say in the movies, “I know too much,” about the stories that are buried deep underneath lies and faulty elementary school teachers who taught us that Native Americans were called “Indians” who shook hands with Christopher Columbus while they ate a big turkey & had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner.  (I wonder if that was before or after they gave them the diseased filled blankets?).

For the millions and million and millions of people who have been displaced, grouped, groped, raped, molested, pillaged, brutally murdered and carted off for this place that we call America, it was NOT worth it.  America is not worth all the blood that was unnecessarily shed.  (The bigger question is: is any conquest worth displacing millions of people for?  How about war?)  May God help me if my indignation is not righteous.

What do you think?  Disagree?  Would America make the trade?


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  • grace

    It may be helpful to add to this discussion that my professor’s question was based off a fairly old movie called, “The Space Traders.” We watched it in class and it gives an interesting perspective on this whole issue. This of course before we had an African-American President.

    Spoiler Alert: The movie end after they make the trade & African-Americans are being beamed up to spaceships. They are allowed one bag each & it is very reminiscent of the Nazi regime who allowed the Jews one bag each as they took them off to internment camps to murder them.

  • Kate

    I’ll bite. I’d like to say that I think you’re wrong Grace, that Americans would be never be so depraved, so disgusting…but I’d be lying. I agree with your conclusion based not on the kind of research you’ve done, but on the sinfulness of my own heart. As a member of the white majority in America I have to be real, and say that while I would not “vote” to send the entire African American race off to space with aliens, I truly believe that that is only because of Jesus Christ, and His Lordship in my life…and my own recent experience with being a minority (in our church…long story) that has given me the tiniest glimpse of what it feels like to feel like you’re beating your head against a wall over, and over again until you’re beaten and bloody all in the name of trying to have some fellowship with people oblivious to your struggle who are supposed to be your Christian brothers and sisters. ::deep breath:: The darkest, most honest part of my sinful, depraved heart thought, for a second…just maybe. Forgive me Jesus. How I long for His second coming and the full redemption of your people.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  • Karl

    A few things:
    1. The premise of the question is interesting. The aliens ask of America to give part of itself, as if the non-African-American folks are possessed by the rest who have the option of trading them for an alternative.
    2. Decisions made by those in the power to make them are influenced by the micro but made at the macro. At a high level I can see people seeing the gift of the aliens a greater value than any people group. That assumes a lot, though.
    3. I don’t think this is fiction. As outlined in your blog we’ve done that before – given up people groups for some greater good (e.g. Japanese Americans in exchange for security, albeit a false sense of it.) Our history has already answered the question.

    I wonder who the aliens think is getting the better deal…

  • Meshell

    WHOA! This is some heavy stuff. I wish I could disagree with you on this one, Grace but I can’t. America would make some grand, empty, and lofty speech and then give us up. What do they really have to lose (In their eyes?) What we have contributed to this society they have…. oh, nevermind. I’ll share the rest of that comment with you when we talk.

  • Mario

    “Even the Christians”?

    I’m sorry, but weren’t the settlers who took the Native Americans’ land Christians? (who in some cases justified their actions by the fact that the Indians weren’t Christians)

    Weren’t the slavers Christians? Again justifying their trade partly by their non-Christian status, and then later, using the Bible to justify continuing to enslave them after African-Americans converted to Christianity. Isn’t the KKK to this day a Christian brotherhood, who has always also had a lot of hatred for Jews and other non-Christians?

    Weren’t the large majority of Americans during WW2 (and to this day) Christians? And the Japanese-Americans were a significantly non-Christian minority.

    Leaving aside Hitler’s faith – Weren’t the Germans who carried out his plans a Christian nation?

    I’m not seeing that being Christian makes all that much of a difference. And I don’t appreciate the implicit insult towards atheists, Jews, Buddhists and everyone else.

    How much do you wanna bet that Americans would trade all the atheists if you changed that story up?

    • Grace

      Mario, I can see where your coming from. Christians have been part and parcel of probably every evil thing you or I can name that’s happened on this planet. Being a Christian myself, it’s a frustrating thing to face. I think my point in saying that line “even the Christians,” is because Christians are the ones who are supposed to –by requirement from God– love our neighbors as our self.

      I meant no insult towards atheists, Jews, Buddhists or anyone else. If I did insult, I apologize. As for Americans trading all the atheists? I’d buy it. I really don’t think there’s anyone we wouldn’t trade up, honestly. Our country is so fiercely individualistic that I can see us doing just about anything for advancement.

      Thanks for commenting! I hope that even though we disagree on some things you’ll come back and visit. =)