I’ve never been more embarrassed to be American | by California Expat Living in Muslim Country
After struggling all week to organise my thoughts and feelings over this Trump win, I’ve resorted to stealing. Partly because I’m so very angry and confused, partly because I refuse to write a piece penned out of anger that I will regret for years to come, but mostly because my fabulously eloquent brother Nick has shared his thoughts and they mirror mine to a ‘T’ … albeit missing some of the expat perspective I can offer as I’m currently residing in Malaysia — a predominantly Muslim country that is more progressive in many ways that the U.S. right now.
OpEd by Nick Fuentes
I’ve never been more embarrassed to be American.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m very proud that the American process worked. I’m very proud that I’m privileged to live in a place where such a process exists and in which I can participate, simply by birthright. And I will absolutely, 100 percent stand behind what has been directed by my countrymen (and women) who view the world differently than I do.
And mark my words, I will do so in severe, painful-to-others protest for the next four years.
But I’m gravely concerned that so many people think Donald Trump, a reality TV star with a checkered business past, can fix this country’s problems.
I’m gravely concerned that working-class people don’t see past Trump’s words to know that no actual plans exist to help them — and they will get left behind, again.
I’m gravely concerned that unmitigated racism, xenophobia and sexism are fully acceptable characteristics for the leader of the free world.
I’m gravely concerned that our economy will degrade — again.
I’m gravely concerned about international provocation by a president whose skin is thinner than filo dough and more brittle than my grandmother’s china.
But by far, I’m most gravely concerned that the forthcoming Supreme Court justice(s) Trump will eventually appoint will overturn marriage equality. This, more than any other issue, is what frightens me about our new future. I deserve the same rights as anyone else. I’ve always felt this way. Last year the Supreme Court said so, too.
So, for all in my network reading this who voted for Trump — and there are more of you than many may think, including very close family members — I will hold you personally responsible for getting in the way of MY right to the pursuit of happiness, should that come to pass.
Good luck to us all. America IS ALREADY GREAT. Let’s keep it that way.
And … My Thoughts
If you follow my blog, you know that Nick’s sentiments echo my own. My brother is gay. My best friends are gay. Their rights mean as much to me as any right I would fiercely fight to defend for my daughter, and she’s the most important thing in the world to me. A vote for Trump was a clear message that basic human rights are reserved for specific Americans. Particularly of the white, Christian variety. I’m mortified that religion will now eek its way back into government and erode the LGBT (reproductive rights, medical research, environmental, etc) progress that has been made.
Ohhh and don’t get me started on folks who think it’s cool to have a gay mate but don’t believe they deserve the same civil rights. It drives me INSANE! Reminds me of my father who grew up in the deep south, in a small town of 500 people in Georgia. He passed away over a decade ago and I miss him very much. However, I can still remember his horrifically racist comments such as, “I don’t mind working with a nigger but I don’t want one living next door to me.” My blood would be boiling because I grew up in highly liberal California. And although neither of my parents are Californians, I am. So I grew up to believe fervently that everyone is equal and that fighting against racism or xenophobia is the real American way.
Us vs. Them Mentality
I am rather ashamed I don’t use my voice more, which is the least I should be doing. In fact, it wasn’t until Donald Trump first started running last year that my writing took on a political hue. A family member started talking about ‘us versus them’ and ‘today’s wrong kind of immigrant’ and I was shocked because MY family was exactly that same kind of immigrant in the 1700s. Based on zero facts and zero research they maintained staunch opinions about policies that could have hurtful and damaging results for millions of American families. Nothing I would say could change their minds. They voted for Trump.
In my heart I believe that the majority of Americans who voted for Trump are victims of mainstream media, fear mongering, and wanting real change after years of the status quo. I know it’s childish and that labelling people doesn’t solve anything but sadly they’re turning into reluctant racists and xenophobes thanks to all of that … and the legitimacy that Donald Trump offers them.
Racists and xenophobes aside, I also think many people voted for Trump because he ran as a Republican and that’s the party that they feel has their best interests at heart. Their families are Republican, their neighbours are Republican, being a Republican is as much a part of their identity as their sports team. Many of these voters have a sepia-toned view of what our nation should be like. They’ve lived through years of corporations outsourcing jobs, privatising public services, and stagnating wages.
Although I’ve lived the last six years in India, China, Hong Kong, and now Malaysia, I spent 12 years of my adult life in Barcelona and I’m now passionately European at heart:
- I believe in education and healthcare for everyone (honestly, would Trump have happened in a country where the majority of its citizens are highly educated? No way!).
- I believe that only people who require guns should be able to own them (again, it is a simple fact that in most 1st world countries where guns are banned there are almost no gun deaths at ALL, and certainly never a mass shooting … which Americans experience every single day now!).
- I don’t believe in legal corruption, which happens when governments are beholden to large corporations … a problem that keeps U.S. citizens in chains so-to-speak and from having a real voice on things that really matter because lobbyists trump the little man.
- And NO OTHER 1st WORLD NATION allows big pharma and insurance companies to dictate healthcare or drug costs (Medicare is forbidden by law to negotiate contracts with big pharmaceutical companies, it’s insane!). It’s truly frustrating to hear Americans talking about how they don’t want socialised medicine and they don’t want the government messing with their healthcare — when the privatisation of such has been part of our downfall. All other industrialised countries provide health coverage for every citizen from birth until death. Trump’s presidency will end the nation’s forward steps toward that and put the U.S. again back behind every other first world nation. Every single one! To quote Donald Trump >> Sad!
Still, I have always been proud to be American – especially a southern California native – because I believed that we thrived because of our diversity—not in spite of it. A land of possibilities that was founded by people from different cultures, religions, and nationalities. Honestly, when I first moved to Spain when I was 21 I would marvel how my now ex-husband could look at someone and instantly know that they were German or Moroccan or Greek or Swedish. I had always just seen people as ‘American’ so it took me years to fine-tune that skill. To me, America was like a Benetton ad.
But we’re not anymore, are we?
OR maybe we never were but I lived in a bubble. America is full of people who have been lied to for so long by the media, corporations, and politicians that they will defy logic to vote for a charlatan like Trump. No presentation of reason or facts will sway them. I can’t convey the embarrassment in even trying to defend our actions when speaking to people from Europe or Australia or Asia … well, anywhere nowadays.
Brexit: We Are Your Evil Twin
Bottom line? Sadly the same mentality of fear that fuelled Brexit has jumped the pond and turned my homeland into fodder for comics around the global. Literally every country on the planet is making fun of us right now, some with more flair than others, especially the political cartoonists. However I prefer the times when the world was talking about our latest IPO hitting the NASDAQ or Brangelina’s divorce. Because the truth is that this is not a joke. Not to most Americans and not to the nations and economies that the next four years will irreparably impact.
Life in a Muslim Country
I currently reside in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a city whose motto is ‘Diversity makes us stronger’ and I love it. The largest group here are the Muslims and they are kind and fun and I’ve never felt safer. I feel welcome and embraced every day. There are battles to be won for LGBT rights in Malaysia but that’s my only complaint. What saddens me, though, is it seems I’ve had to travel half way around the world to reside in a land that embodies the ideals that I thought my homeland held.
As an expat, it feels like I’m watching our country catastrophically change, from a safe distance. From daily mass shootings and corruption in the federal and state prison systems, to this week’s surge in racial provocations since Trump was declared president-elect and the daily peaceful protests against him. The country that was a beacon of hope for immigrants like my family centuries ago is now a land where its own citizens are living more and more in gut-wrenching fear … well, that is if they aren’t white.
#CaliforniaFunFact! My home state quickly put out this statement following the Trump win >> California is – and must always be – a refuge of justice and opportunity for people of all walks, talks, ages and aspirations – regardless of how you look, where you live, what language you speak, or who you love. I am truly proud to be a Californian!
Angela Carson, currently nursing a cocktail to help cope…
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