It’s not easy or even fun to be an
expatriate. Unless you didn’t know, that is just a highfalutin word
that is used especially for American emigrants. Why the special
word? Because people who “leave” America are expected to see it
with a critical (perhaps even artistic) eye, and Americans who “remain”
are expected to disregard the criticism, and even accuse the expat
of Anti-Americanism or sheer snobbery. In writing, you will see
the word distorted to “ex-patriot”.
I’ve never been a “patriot”. I’ve never served in
the armed forces. I’ve never done anything more than my “duty” as
a citizen, paying taxes, voting when I could and showing up when
called to jury duty. I’ve gotten very little in return, to be frank.
Whenever I needed urgent medical care, I’ve had to pay out of my
pocket. Health insurance certainly doesn’t cover everything, and
a collapsed lung in 1984 cost me over seven thousand dollars because
my HMO specified that I should not opt for the nearest hospital,
but should have gone to “theirs”. Thank God I refused to be admitted
to a room after the ER, because I felt deep down that I had greatly
sinned. I figured that I would be paying a surplus for my audacity
to allow the ambulance to take me to my local hospital. When I got
the bill three weeks later, it is another miracle that I did not
die of a heart attack.
I put myself through college by working full-time
as well as taking out a student loan, every penny of which I paid
back to you, America.
In a way, I contributed to your economic growth, I produced, consumed,
got sick enough for you, got an expensive higher education while
barely scraping by myself. In my humble opinion, you owe me.
Yes, I am a product of the country by virtue of birth,
at times a pawn or even a victim of its limited vision, like every
citizen of every country. I’ve been compelled to pledge allegiance
to the flag and to the United States of America and to the Republic for
which it stands. I had my hand on my heart and was sure they were
keeping their part of the bargain with that guarantee of Liberty and Justice for All. But who’s really going to go into checking
all those details? Children ask only the right questions, or at
least, grown-ups give them comforting answers.
Yet, being American gets on my nerves more and more
as I watch America do their “big show”. I’ve seen elections
and campaigns all my life. I know it’s a circus, the most expensive
show on earth. But I am at the point where I want to shout at you,
America. “Can you
please get serious and stop the show?”
You act like you are the most important nation on
Earth, the best, number one. I would like to know what gives you
this idea. If it weren’t for your military might, what would you
economy is a shambles and you rescue those who have destroyed it
with the taxes of your own workers? The stock markets of the world
have crashed because they are controlled by the vicissitudes of
Wall Street and the Dollar. Thanks! We really appreciate it over
here. But we don’t expect you to do the right thing. No, I don’t
mean bail anyone else out, but just to APOLOGISE. That’s a silly
fantasy, I know. While you are concentrating on erecting Holocaust
monuments in Florida and Washington,
where are your monuments to the victims of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki? To the victims of the genocide of the indigenous people of
your continent? To the Africans you dragged over in chains and forced
into slavery? That might force you to apologise for your sins and
crimes, and it’s better to avoid that. Break for Commercial.
But you drag things anyway, America,
not only slaves to your shores. You dragged us into your Global
War on Terror. If someone isn’t your ally, fighting at your command,
you are entitled to put an embargo on them, attack them and occupy
impose your energy and pollution policies without concern about
the international agreements. However, if other countries violate
or even threaten to violate international agreements, they are aided
if they are Israel, or punished (if they are your Rogue States).
If other States determine their own policies, they become friends
or enemies according to your own interests, whipping up international
consensus to get nations involved in wars for or with you. You occupy
foreign lands with your military bases – yes, even your allied nations
have bases that are “pieces of America”
abroad. It might be normal to you, but I wonder if you would like
having pieces of other countries on your own soil.
Haven’t you had enough of wars you can’t win and
which only drain resources? Or is that the only way you have found
to take your own people’s attention off their deteriorating Social
Security, their abysmal health care programs and the constant outsourcing
of their labour? If the enemy is “out there”, the devil in the backyard
can play merrily.
Americans get thrown onto the streets in a parade
of deepening poverty that makes the American Dream look like a joke
to anyone who has eyes to see it. But the homeless don’t vote, you
can’t register “a non-address”, so they don’t matter anyway. Some
even think they had it coming… tough luck.
So, Americans are convinced they are going to have
some bright future, with the change they can believe in, or even
the change they need. Good for them. When they wake up, please tell
them that we are sick to the teeth of the show. Sick of the parade
of wives and children and ministers. Sick of the smiling and nodding
human wall that claps at every empty word uttered by the leaders
who have been bought and sold precisely by the same folks who have
bought and sold the American citizen up the river.
Americans complain about the system too, don’t get
me wrong. But why do they never lift a pinky finger to change the
voting system? The dreaded Electoral College…. man, I remember them
saying that would be a thing of the past about 6 campaigns ago.
The deceptive Black Box voting and uncounted Absentee Votes will
give a bit of drama to the election night coverage, but the pundits
will assure us everything is totally fair and without a loop.
Race is always an issue, and isn’t this sad? In a
nation that can boast the mystery of diversity, the great melting
pot, why does every candidate have to be the standard carbon copy
as far as policy and beliefs, catering to a certain profile of voter
that is far more conservative than most people I know would admit?
I thought that those great ideals such as separation of Church
and State, All Men are Created Equal and whatnot were at least something
to aim for.
But the candidates are parading their “personal Christian Minister”
around, (until he says something embarrassing, then they are expected
to dump him unceremoniously), doing race-specific campaigning and
denying that America is still as racist as it was in the 60s.
If I tell people I’d only use my (uncounted, most
likely) Absentee Vote to elect Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney,
my progressive friends tell me I am helping the Republicans get
elected. I beg to differ. Even if they don’t get the votes, they
get elected sometimes. Even if the people are “sick of things” a
wartime president gets re-elected. It’s happened before, in fact,
it always happens, and even without the smoke and whistles, the
Americans realise what is in their immediate interests, they always
go for the most warlike Party, the one that can assure them “cheap
oil”. What have I got to do with it? Why should I play a part in
that game and cast a vote for one of the two showmen? They have
both tired me out with their finger-pointing, their two-steps, their
pats on the backs, their baby-kissing and Minister and lobby ass-licking.
I refuse. I refuse to play the game. They can force
me to watch the show, but they can’t make me applaud.
So America, get on with your elections. But get it
over with quickly. Put
one of your favourite sons in office. It really doesn’t matter who
it is. The rest of the world expects it will keep getting four more
years of your war, your cultural and economic hegemony, your air
and water pollution, your toxic waste and occupation of land and
space. Four more years of your arrogance and refusal to apologise.
Bring It On.
Guest Commentator Mary Rizzo is an Art Restorer, writer and translator
who lives in Italy.
She co-founded Tlaxcala www.tlaxcala.es,
the network of translators for linguistic diversity and www.palestinethinktank.com.
Her political activity revolves around the liberation of the Palestinian
people, believing her own people (the West) will follow! Click here
to contact Ms. Rizzo.