I am no longer sure I want to be an American.
I have spent my whole life being proud to be an American, because I am far closer to my immigrant forbears than most people my age are. My father was a naturalized citizen from England, my grandmother (on my mother's side) was a naturalized citizen from Ireland. My grandfather on Mother's side was only second generation in this country.
But I am now completely ashamed of my own people.
I just came home from a lovely evening at Sarah's bar to find on my local news site the story of a 21 one year old man who got into a taxi early this evening, asked the driver whether he was a Muslim, and upon hearing an affirmative reply, slashed the man with a knife.
I cannot live with this kind of behavior. This country was founded BECAUSE of religious freedom, and FOR religious freedom. And yes, I was downtown on September 11th, and yes, I had to walk home, and yes, I was covered in ash and grit and, quite probably bits of human beings. For that matter, I was also in Grant Park in Chicago in 1968, dragging bleeding reporter friends out to take them to the first aid station my roommate and I had set up in our apartment. I have (quite by an accident of birth) been basically in the middle of a fair number of monumental occurrences in our history between 1945, the year of my birth, and now.
But I have NEVER seen anything like this. This snarling, blind, uninformed, slavering pack behavior. This is more frightening than anything ever in my life. I am terrified of my own countrymen.
What on earth has happened here? Unfortunately, I do understand...much more than thoroughly...that one of the firelighters was our election of a black president. This was the thing, I think, that started the dogs howling. There are a lot of people who simply cannot stand the notion of a black Kennedy, which is, of course, what Obama is. The parallels are inescapable. This young handsome man, with his handsome wife and his two adorable daughters...this is the stuff of every commercial everywhere. Except...THEY'RE NIGGGERS! Yeah. Made you look, didn't I?
I'm sorry. Not like it's a term I would ever use. But that's the truth as it is told in way too much of the United States at the moment. There are a LOT of people who think exactly and precisely that.
And I think somehow that when this country did the right thing, the proper thing, that what happened is we said, "Cry havoc! And unleash the hogs of war!" Huh. The quote is, of course, unleash the dogs of war. That was a typo. But perhaps my fingers knew more than I did.
Please. I am reminded of the title of a book by Alan Paton (it's actually about apartheid in South Africa)...Cry, The Beloved Country.
Oh, my America, my new found land...what has happened to your brave flags and your smiling democracy?
Love (and please let us find it again), Wendy