reflections on the election after a bad night’s sleep

I. I am a daughter of immigrants. I am an immigrant myself, and I know the beauty and the heartache that moving between countries and cultures gives you. My dad is the biggest defender of the American dream you will ever find, and for him America has been a land of opportunity, as it has also been for us. That is now over. My dad is grieving, and I am grieving. This is the not the world I want to raise children in. This is not the world I want for my students, or my friends, or my neighbors, or anyone in America who is LGBT, or Muslim, or Latino, or otherwise deemed a threat by people too ignorant to see how you are precisely what makes America better. You are loved, and we stand with you.

II. I am a white immigrant, and a European one. I am going to be fine. I have an accent, but it’s not a Spanish one, and thus nobody really cares, not even Trump. And yet I feel fear. I feel fear as a foreigner, as an outsider, as a woman who knows only too well that #yesallwomen. I have been different often enough to know what happens next.

III. A couple friends posted a verse from Exodus on their Facebook walls this morning:

Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. (Exodus 22:21-23)

I take strength in this old, old story of liberation from oppression, and freedom where there had been slavery. And it tells me what we do next. We pray, and then we fight.

But we have seen periods of darkness before — segregation, McCarthyism, the internment of the Japanese, the Civil War, slavery. The American story is fitful progress punctuated by frequent reversals, some of which appeared at the time like they would last forever. None of them did. … fighting for democracy is part of America’s heritage, from abolitionists to suffragettes to the progressive reformers. Maybe you thought that fight was confined to history. It will go on. (Jonathan Chait)

Aside

inauguration, four years ago

Four years ago, I stood on the mall in Washington D.C., with a friend, freezing but oh so excited, waiting to witness Obama’s big day.

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even the dinosaur was there.

We were staying in Virginia and had gotten up at 2 AM to take the train into DC, dressed in every layer we owned. We were surrounded by so many hopeful people, it had me waving the miniature American flags the Boy Scouts were handing out so vigorously that one broke and I had to go ask for a new one. I felt so patriotic that day–you wouldn’t believe a pragmatic half-European like me could feel like that.

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all pictures are courtesy of my friend M., because I am way too short to be able to take pictures of any thing else than the people in front of me.

It was such an intense day, and it’s one of my favorite memories of that whole semester abroad.

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Even if thinking about how cold it was gives me the shivers all over again.

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i need to stop watching the west wing

Mostly because it’s now easy to take the events shown on my tv as gospel, and forget that Obama is really in office. Damn you, realistic tv shows!

(I do have to say, though, that I now better understand how politics can be exciting, even if it is all a bit too complex and subterfuge-y for me. But if I ever get the chance to be a real-life Donna Moss, I’m taking it. Although hopefully without all the embarrassing scrapes she gets herself into.)

the lion lies down with the eagle

Yesterday, I picked up my brand-new, first-ever Dutch passport from city hall. Here they are, side by side, blue and red:

it was quite the momentous occasion for me. I’ve been a global citizen for years (23, to be exact), but now I have the passport to prove it. Unfortunately, the lady behind the desk did not quite enter into the spirit of the occasion, as she just handed me the passport and wished me a nice day. There’s something to be said for the American tendency to turn everything into a ceremony: when I picked up my passport at the American consulate in Amsterdam, I had to swear an oath, with my right hand raised and everything. It seemed a bit silly at the time, but I almost wished the lady today would have had me do the same. It would have marked the occasion somehow.  I guess this is all the proof I need of how different both countries regard citizenship: the one, as something almost sacred, the other, far more utilitarian. No wonder everyone says the Dutch aren’t patriotic…

The whole having two passports thing has come up recently in Dutch politics, with a newly elected statesman arguing quite vocally against people having two nationalities. (Well, he’s mostly arguing about those people whose second country isn’t in the West. But to seem politically correct, he has to include the likes of me.) I think it’s ridiculous: my two nationalities have made me a better person. I’ve learned not to take things at face value, since cultures can be so all-determining yet so slippery and therefore so easy to misunderstand. I’ve learned that no matter how different people sometimes do things, we have a shared humanity and aren’t all that different in the end. Traveling back and forth between two countries has broadened my horizons. My bilingualism comes in handy every day. And the fact that I am required to pay taxes in two countries means I have a good idea of what solidarity means. These are just a few of the things transnationalism has done for me, and I feel quite strongly that it is not a danger. It is something to be embraced.

I keep my passports side by side in my room, and they’re a daily reminder of who I am, how I got here, and what I learned along the way. Geert Wilders, eat your heart out. Me and my passports aren’t going anywhere. (Well, except to the airport, so I can actually use them. But you know what I mean.)

“choose-your-own-anxiety-barbie”

Political Barbie (www.thetoyzone.com)

I leave you today with an analysis worth reading of why Americans as a people obsess about Supreme Court nominees. I don’t really follow politics* and I’m fairly mellow, so as long as the proposed presidential/supreme court/senate/congress/parliament candidate is fairly liberal (by that I mean isn’t looking to overturn Roe vs Wade or strip LGBT rights even further, for example) I just go with the flow. I figure that the people I voted for know what they’re doing and note the results…

which, according to this article, puts me in the not-anxious category of American voters. That’s good to know.

*and before you all start shouting at me that politics are part of my civic duty and that it’s irresponsible not to be in the know, I do know what is going on. I do vote  in an informed manner (in two countries no less! How’s that for civic responsibility?), I have an understanding how government works…I just can’t get passionate about it. Except for the 2008 elections. I was passionate enough about that to freeze my ass off on the cold, cold Mall on inauguration day. Which is pretty passionate, to think of it.