Love thy neighbor: in Trump’s America, some of your neighbors need it more than ever

Love thy neighbor: in Trump’s America, some of your neighbors need it more than ever

I’m going to share with you guys two stories sent in to me since the election. Two events that occurred in a country that has elected Donald J. Trump.

The first is from a Nepalese American woman who lives in the Midwest. Let’s call her Kyrah. It’s necessary for her to keep her identity hidden. Her bosses have warned her, alongside all of the employees at her company, that “politically themed posts” on the internet “will not be allowed” following the election. They are ostensibly doing this so that the company “will not attract any negative attention.” I’ll let you be the judge as to whether or not this is responsible policy.

Although she lives in the Midwest, Kyrah grew up on the West Coast. She came to the United States as a child. She describes herself as “not very political.” She did not vote in the 2016 presidential election, having been put off by both of the major party candidates, a decision she now regrets. Here’s why she regrets the decision. I am republishing a portion of her e-mail to me, with permission, and with a couple of edits for clarity:

“A lady who was my neighbor in my hometown for 20 years sent me hate mail after Trump was elected. I am calling it hate mail because I have no other way of describing the message, although it’s hard for me to believe…that somebody could really write this to someone they know…

Here are the exact words. I am not making them up:

‘Your nice job and nice home could have been a real American’s nice job and home. Its [sic] simple math. By coming here, you are taking away from someone who has been here longer and has more of a right.’

She thinks I should leave. This is someone who knows me. She watched me grow up. Now she treats me worse than a stranger, she treats me like the enemy. My husband [and I] are upset and grieving.”

The focus now isn’t just on migrants, on people deemed “foreign.” The focus is on who is and isn’t a “real American.” As you can imagine, this issue is close to my heart. I have also frequently been compared to “real Americans” – and found wanting. The fact that Trump’s wife is an immigrant herself is completely irrelevant to the people who now demand what amounts to a witch hunt against those of us who “aren’t pure enough.”

I also had a conversation with an older friend from North Carolina. This conversation was even more shocking and upsetting.  Continue reading “Love thy neighbor: in Trump’s America, some of your neighbors need it more than ever”

Racist violence in the center of Moscow

It was actually happening within walking distance from where I live, but I wisely stayed at home yesterday. The neighbour called, cautiously asking me if I was going to brave the spectacle in my condition. That’s a negative.

And anyway, it’s not as if we need to see it happening. The pattern, by now, has become predictable. There’s rioting, there are the usual slogans, there’s the smashing of public property, and people who are deemed not white enough are attacked. Racist groups are claiming that their “reason” this time is the death of football fan Yegor Sviridov, ostensibly shot by another guy who’s, once again, not white enough (Sviridov’s widow has been quick to point out that she is outraged that her husband’s death is being appropriated in this manner, but it’s not as if any of the charming personalities who gathered on Manezhnaya yesterday would pay attention to her wishes).

Rashid Nurgaliyev, minister of Internal Affairs, initially said that those responsible for the Manezhnaya riot were “leftist radicals.” “GOOD GOD” said the internet. Politicians are so used to blaming “the left” for practically anything, that it seems that a bunch of the immediate statements in the wake of this debacle were made on autopilot.

Still, reading LiveJournal entries by the witnesses, I must say it’s important to recognize the actions of many police officers – particularly those that stood against the onslaught of racists on the metro, when groups of young men went around grabbing anyone who was not white, dragging them out of the trains and attacking them. Many people have pointed out that the police on the metro were outnumbered, but fearless.

In recent years, the powers that be felt that they could at least “deal” with the radical, racist right – at the very least, they were treated with less suspicion than all those annoying lefties who keep droning on about human rights and the like. As a system of brute force the radical right was viewed as manageable, perhaps even useful. Also, many political figures feel sorry for the radical right’s members, because they understand how disenfranchised these individuals were before they joined this movement. The nearly hopeless 1990’s were a fertile breeding ground for violent racism – the movement instilled ideals in a generation that was robbed of authority figures. With racism, they had something to hold on to, and someone to blame for their problems.

The events that transpired on Manezhnaya shock no one, of course. We all already know that the streets and the metro are not safe for ethnic minorities. We know that as much as racism, verbal racism in particular is found in all sectors of society (this is the phenomenon that’s responsible for the labeling of Slavic women as “sluts”, for example), it’s whiteness that affords a regular passerby the most safety and security. It’s why so many white people still believe that we can afford to be apathetic when a group of racists descends on a man whose only “crime” is looking too “dark” and daring to go about his business in public.

What people do forget about is the fact that racist groups also hate the government. Vladimir Putin? Why, he’s ” too soft”, “too insincere” – “he made that speech about Russia and Islam, doesn’t he realize that we normal people have nothing to do with that so-called religion?” (All direct quotes from a white power activist I had the displeasure of speaking to earlier this year) They want “proper” politicians – i.e. those who are hell-bent on the destruction of a multi-ethnic society (and the destruction of what is, by definition, Russia, in the process) and aren’t afraid to say it. They admire the power concentrated in the Kremlin, but can’t forgive that power for being too civilized. Political figures may think they can use the racists, but racist ideologues feel the same way about political figures.

Today, Manezhnaya is being furiously cleaned up (with many of the cleaners being, once again, ethnic minorities). Torn down holiday decorations will be fixed up soon. Lamps smashed in Okhotny Ryad metro will be replaced.

Fixing up society is another matter entirely.

But as far as symbols go, it’s important to send a message to the racists: you shouldn’t get to leave your mark on Moscow in this manner.

Yes. Decent healthcare is “bad” because THOSE people might benefit.

On the subject of certain Americans’ virulent contempt for even a slightly more egalitarian healthcare system:

“They don’t want racial minorities and people without means sharing spaces with them, and especially not when they’re sick and being reminded that they’re the same flesh and blood as everyone else. The idea that a 14-year-old immigrant might get service first because she needs it more, and that there’s no way to pull rank? That’s the sort of thing that keeps the nutters up at night.”

You nailed it, Amanda.

I once got into a healthcare debate with the mother of one of my friends in North Carolina. It got a little heated, and she said something like, “well, I don’t want those IMMIGRANTS coming over and getting their paws on our system, and that’s what will happen if we let just anyone get healthcare!”

*pause*

“You know I was an immigrant, right, Mrs. [last name redacted to protect the guilty]?”

“Um, yes, sure, Natalia, I know that. But… you’re not anything like those irresponsible people, you know?”

Of course. I’m white. And went to a posh school.

Mrs. [last name redacted to protect the guilty] shouldn’t worry so much. As it stands right now, I sure as Hades can’t afford healthcare in the States anyway. And people like her would fight to keep it that way. And call me a traitor (as a charming e-mailer did recently) because when I see a 29-year-old woman with lupus, retroactively dropped from her insurance policy and facing a $700,000 debt, I want to do something about it.

Lipstick and Lynch Mobs

… Is my take on the ungodly mess that the McCain campaign is right now. I don’t really write about U.S. politics for GlobalComment anymore, but this evil BS in the form of “kill him!” (in reference to Obama) and “sit down, boy!” (in reference to a black press member) and how it has gone absolutely unchallenged by the train-wreck candidates got me so worked up that I was up at 5 a.m. punching this stuff out. I didn’t even need a cup of coffee, which pretty much means that this was a superhero act on my part, and that I will just sit around and wait for my own franchise to grow up around me.

My absentee ballot could not have come at a better time.

Screw this KKK crap.