Loving the Alien

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It feels like I am riding on a psychotic carousel in these political times.-tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Never in my wildest dreams did I envision living in a dystopian society, but here I am, stuck in the current political swamp. Now, there is an “executive order” from the man whose own mother emigrated to the U.S. from Scotland as a young woman, and whose paternal grandparents emigrated from Germany. Apparently in his mind, Western European immigrants are acceptable, while those from predominantly Muslim countries are not. My own father and my paternal great-grandfather were Italian immigrants, so I guess they would still have been deemed worthy. l hazard to guess that Malala Yousefzai would have been suspect because she is a practicing Muslim. Maybe because she won the Nobel Peace Prize, she would still be considered “fit” ideologically to enter the U.S., but perhaps not under the current regime.

There is this major issue called Human Rights. Hello? Can you hear me? I reiterate: HUMAN RIGHTS. David J. Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, wrote yesterday in The New York Times’ The Opinion Page an essay entitled, Trump’s Immigration Ban Is Illegal. Bier explains that The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin, replacing the old prejudicial system and giving each country an equal shot at the quotasSeeking to deny entry to the U.S. to only Muslims, yet granting entry to Christians and others of minority religions, screams of discrimination and ignorance.

Over the years, I have taught English as a Second Language and English as a New Language to hundreds of Muslim students from around the world. Indeed, my graduate degree is in Linguistics from Indiana University Bloomington. Focused on academic studies, these students were neither proselytizer, nor terrorist. They were family oriented, good people who only wanted to further their education. This “executive order” is barring these highly intelligent foreign students from studying in the U.S. because of what: Fear, racism, and hatred? As one of my international students said after the November 2016 elections, “Who does he think is going to develop technology in the U.S.?” The student had a point since technology in the U.S. is populated primarily with Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern people. Building a wall to prevent Mexicans from illegally entering the U.S. is one of the more moronic ideas spouted from the incumbent. Did he learn nothing from the history of the Great Wall of China, or from the history of the Berlin Wall? Apparently not.

When a population is persecuted and banned, think Native Americans, Jews, Armenians, Bedouins, no matter the insidious forms of deprivation, humiliation, exile, and torture, these races and cultures have managed to survive. They persevere in spite of demagogues and twisted ideologies through sheer guts, dignity, faith, and help from sympathetic, more humane governments, like Canada.

I used to be proud to be a U.S. citizen. Now, David Bowie’s song, I’m Afraid of Americans reverberates in my head, as does his song, Loving the Alien. Come to think of it, his wife, Iman, who is a native of Somalia, would now not be able to enter the U.S. because she is from one of those seven countries Big Brother fears. Here is a reminder: Every one of us came from aliens, with the exception of Native Americans. It is disconcerting how mostly old, white, wealthy men harbor the paternal illusion that they are “protecting” their interests, under the guise of “protecting” the common people’s interests. They are driving policies in the U.S. that create more divisiveness, anger, and horror of U.S. Americans. I don’t know how the Electoral College can sleep at night after what it has done to place That at the head of our government when over two-and-a-half million more of us voted to give the other candidate the majority of the popular vote. Each night I pray for sanity to prevail.

Ciao for now.

 

 

 

 

Backlash

 

 

Long may she wave over us.-www.tangledpasta.net
Long may she wave over us.-www.tangledpasta.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

            It has been a rough week. After a contentious 18-month presidential campaign, we now have protests, both peaceful and not, that have swept across the country. The Electoral College choice and his followers have unleashed the beasts of hatred, racism, and misogyny against minorities and against women. Several of them have told me, “It will be all right” and “Life goes on”. Really? It is amazing how vacuous these people can be.

After fitful nights of sleep this past week, it finally occurred to me when I last experienced this nationwide tumult, this level of dissatisfaction, and this anger: the Vietnam War.

It was during the Vietnam War years that the nation raged and protested its intense displeasure. The press and the media churned out grisly images of our youthful military twisted into misshapen forms, as well as the expressions of numbing shock on the faces of children. Those images have stayed with me, serving as terrifying reminders of war. During my undergraduate years at Indiana University Bloomington, other images were burned into my mind: protests, not all of them peaceful. The vestiges of The Age of Aquarius gave way to increased use of drugs as students sought to dull the pain of a war many did not support, yet in which a large number of them were forced to fight due to the draft.

Complacency also factored into those Vietnam War years. The attempts of the “We’ll be all right” and “The war can’t last forever” mantras, followed by the nationalistic “We’re fighting for democracy” chants morphed into meaningless twaddle as the war dragged on. Fighting for democracy in a country that didn’t appear to support democracy in the first place, having been a French colony for years in a part of the world most Americans couldn’t locate on a map, failed in the end to equate with victory. What democracy is there under a dictatorship? The answer is: none.

After the Vietnam Veterans returned to an America that had tuned them out, failed even to throw them a ticker-tape parade for heroism, nay for their very survival, Americans longed for peace and for stability. Now, as military veterans return from deployment in Iraq and in Afghanistan, minus limbs, and with copious amounts of PTSD, there are still no parades to acknowledge their service. That is not to say parades ease their pain, but at least we would be thanking them with brass bands for laying their lives on the line, like we could do, but don’t, for our uniformed blue.

Now, a white supremacist group in North Carolina has organized a parade for the “president-elect”. This past week, Black students at the University of Pennsylvania received messages with gruesome images from a group the Feds and the university have yet to identify. In addition, school personnel tell me that bullying has increased in the past year. Small wonder: the “president-elect” is a bully. Thus, a pattern has begun to emerge, and it’s not pretty.

My father and my maternal great-grandfather were immigrants. The only natives in the U.S. are the Native Americans, the rest of us are descended from immigrants, voluntary or forced, all of us are, except for the aforementioned Native Americans, which our government marginalized, but that is a topic unto itself. My family likely would not have been admitted to the U.S. in the current climate since the very fascism my father sought to escape in Italy seems to have reared its head here, in America, in the land of democracy, here in the purported land of the free. Woody Guthrie sang, “This land is your land/This land is my land”. Guthrie’s song lauded the expansiveness of America, of her “anything is possible” sensibility, of her humanity. Those traits, which are remarkably absent now, but one hopes will rise again.

Ciao for now.