I am what’s wrong with America*
Anand Giridharadas
1K178

Great essay! There is no doubt that stubborn and blind reactionning is holding the whole country hostage. Everybody, every side has a point, a good one. But it is of the nature of things that one’s good points can only travel as far as the steed they ride on, and that steed is generosity. The weaker that horse, the shorter the travel.

There is an inherent quality to the immigrant (to the West) that s/he respects the locals and acts demurely, which when reciprocated, turns into deep love and patriotism. There is also the inherent quality of the first generation American that s/he isn’t required to be anything other than him/herself, which, unsurprisingly, is the quality shown by Western people in any other locale. And, necessarily, there is that inherent quality of the multi-generational that s/he be protective of his/hers, and whatever that means to him/her, a job, an ethnicity, an idea, a religion, a daughter… These qualities are structural and will never change as they have always existed, and are part of the natural order of the bonds tying he who leaves, she who is born and those who welcome. Trying to upend them results in upending the whole society, which, I must point out, affects one person greatest, and it is that person unfortunately who least understands it.

My perspective as an immigrant, which I like to hurl (only when all else fails, only so I swear) to those trying to kick me out of this country? I have more right to be here than you do. How so? Well, I applied to come here. I filled out forms, I paid a fee, I waited in line, I took medical tests, I downloaded forms, filled them out, paid for translations services, wore out shoes and car tires doing the navette between the local American consulate and the various other entities they sent me to… as they deny my application once and twice, and take more of my money once or twice.

I also spent many sleepless nights wondering if that elusive visa will ever be mine… and woke up from deep slumber to find that, no, I was still in my parent’s home, not on NY streets picking up gold, nor on NBA courts dunking the basketball…

I left girlfriends eagerly, and not yet girlfriends heart-achingly, I left parents and friends, siblings and family, left my early being and his history there and came here. Here, I learned english, took low paying jobs, was mugged and discriminated against, worked night jobs and took day classes, and all through paid taxes…a lot…all the time!

All…and just so to say…yes, though I was not born here, historically, Americanilly, fundamentally, I am at least as American as anyone else (and here I am being magnanimous, I am certainly MORE American than any who neither chose their citizenship nor paid hard dollars for it.)

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