America, what happened to you?

Written by Daniel Waldman

Dear America,

I’m writing to you from France, where I’ve been living the last few months and plan to live for the foreseeable future. My reasons for leaving you were primarily personal, but also–how do I put this the right way–political? No, that’s not quite right. Cultural? Maybe that’s a little closer.

Whatever I might call it, I have to face the truth: You aren’t who I always thought you were. You aren’t the country I was raised to believe in, where equality and rule of law are the standards we strive to achieve. Sure, you’ve had a checkered past. We’ve all made some mistakes. But I always felt like you wanted to work to overcome those problems through dialogue and by seeking fairness that doesn’t exist in other countries.

But now, I’m not so sure. You’ve elected someone with such base characteristics that I’m not sure you are who you say you are. I don’t understand how you can say you believe that “all men are created equal,” and then elect someone who has riled up a primarily racist voter base. I’m not sure how you can believe in freedom of speech, and then elect someone who actively throws out journalists from his events because he doesn’t like their questions, who sues reporters and news outlets wantonly because they said something negative about him, and whose supporters have actively threatened journalists physically. I don’t know that you can even stand as a shining example of democracy, where citizens participate in the shape their government takes, when you elect someone who encouraged his supporters to “monitor the polls,” nudge-nudge-wink-wink.

You can say I’ve turned my back on you. I’m sure you will. But that’s not the case at all. Yes, I’m sad, despondent even, that you elected someone who has bragged about sexual assault and has promised to strip away all the institutions that have made you what you are. My hope, however, is that through my writing I can help remind you who are. I recognize that this is, perhaps, a little selfish, a little self-centered, as though my thoughts are important enough for anyone to listen to at all, much less engage in a dialogue or even convince them of something they don’t already believe in. And in today’s echo-chamber of a world, maybe I’m deluding myself in the same way, America, you’ve deluded yourself that the world is out to get you, that immigrants and blacks and latinos are all thugs or terrorists, or whatever.

The truth is, America, you haven’t been you for a while now. I’m not sure when it started, but over the years, it’s become apparent that you’ve changed. And, as a result of that, I’ve been a bit homesick even before I left you.

Maybe in a few years, you’ll come to your senses. I’m afraid of the deep hole you’ll dig for yourself to realize that. Or maybe you won’t. I don’t know. But as of today, I’m no longer homesick. And I won’t be as long as you’re filled with hatred and bigotry. If anything, I’m in mourning and I’m wondering if you’ll ever be who you claim to be. I hope you will.

 

PS–I tried to find a good image to go with this letter, but all I could think of were sarcastic memes that betrayed the seriousness of my letter. Sorry.

EDIT–I found an image that a friend posted on Facebook that fits this post pretty well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *