When Boston was bombed, I tried my best to feel patriotic. Because that's what you do when tragedy strikes Main Street. You sing the songs that are only performed at football games and political ceremonies. You put a flag on your door and lay a rose for the dead. You hold a moment of silence a moment longer.
But here in Amman, Jordan where I have been living for the past three months, it is hard to feel a connection to the Stars and Stripes. It is hard to be anything but critical of our society, and our foreign policy in particular. I know our wound is fresh, but buck up and hear what I have to say. America you better wake the hell up. Because terror is our game. Fear and discomfort is what we inflict on the rest of the world. So let's not feel too sorry for ourselves. This is what it feels like when a complete stranger has control of your fate.
In Amman, I teach a 9-year old boy who reminds me of a mermaid. There isn't a good reason other that the fact that his lower body is so deformed his legs and feet are permanently crossed under him, forming the V-shape at the end of a mermaid's tail. Salah was also born without a rectum, which I assume no mermaid is born with either. He's an Iraqi refugee, as is every one else I work with.
While Americans slowly forget the war ever happened, Salah and his family live the consequences every day. And not just because they have been displaced. The bombs that dropped in Iraq contained depleted uranium. That's nuclear waste. After ten years of war, its toxicity has trickled into every crevice of Iraq. It's in the ground, so it's in the water. It's in the very air they breathe and the food they eat. Women in Fallujah are told not to have children anymore because their deformities would be so severe. Iraqis are developing multiple cancers at once. Salah's little sister's eyes are much smaller than normal, which is coupled by the fact that she suffers brain pressure so intense she can barely see. But they are the lucky ones.
This is America abroad. Forget about what you think you know. That 24-hour media outlet you've been watching isn't telling you anything. The New York Times is the best newspaper we've got, and they only tell half-truths as well. They wrote this article on Palestine the day I returned from Palestine. Their scope was all-wrong. If you ever read an article about Palestinian protests that includes an anti-Zionist quote and then an official Israeli response about "peace," close it. You're being duped. It's propaganda.
Do you want to know what your tax dollars are funding? The United States contributes more to Israel's military than Israeli citizens themselves. But you see, this is about more than land. It's psychological warfare. And the Israelis have the upper hand. Here are just two examples (if you want to talk more comment below, or contact me personally by my PolicyMic email address.)
1. One day I wasn't able to cross into Palestine. Because of a Jewish holiday and Israel decided to close the border between the two countries.
2. Crossing into Jerusalem from Bethlehem (The West Bank) Palestinians and only Palestinians were forced to get off the bus to have their IDs checked. Then the IDF soldiers entered the bus to check foreign passports. Only after the soldiers left could the Palestinians re-enter and take their seats.
What is the difference between this and Jim Crow? Drinking at a "Blacks Only" water fountain or standing at the back of the bus wasn't detrimental to one's health. It was an inconvenience. But these "inconveniences" were used to reinforce white supremacy and black inferiority.
The same thing is happening in Palestine. Israel controls all Palestinian borders. Palestinians cannot leave their country unless Israeli authority says so. They're hustled off of a bus like a pack of dogs to get their IDs checked. And they watch while everyone else gets to sit and keep their dignity. These are not security measures. These are just two of many "inconveniences" put into place to oppress Palestinians.
If you think these are small concessions for them to make, if you think this is just some rant by an inconsiderate and ignorant 20-year old, you're afraid of the truth. I have seen Palestine with my own eyes, touched it with these two feet. Israel has created apartheid. And America is paying for it in dollars and apathy. The reason Americans so unconditionally support and fund Israel is because our government has convinced us that Palestinians and Israelis are not equal, and don't deserve the same quality of life.
This is the stereotype they have created about all Arabs and all who look like Arabs. Don't you care that American (accompanied by European) oil sanctions on Iran have driven up inflation tenfold and immobilized the economy? Some food prices have risen by 100% in the past few months. Can you convince yourself this is justified? That it is okay for America to cripple the livelihood of innocent Iranian citizens because of an ongoing political spat?
Will you convince yourself as well that Guantanamo is just? That the TSA and detaining men indefinitely without a trial are the only ways to stop curb terrorism? What about Guantanamo prisoner who wrote and op-ed for the New York Times? Doesn't he deserve a day in court after 11 years of imprisonment? Wouldn't you at least want that for yourself?
Foreign policy is what defines a super power. It is what makes a super power. And ours is disgrace, but we just sit back and accept it. I don't know about you guys, but Uchechi Georgina Kalu is not a murderer. I am not a thief. I do not believe in injustice. I will never support apartheid. I do not wage wars. I do not kill men and women and children by mistake because I missed my drone target. That is not me.
And yet, I will still go down in history for these crimes. And if you think you are exempt, you are wrong. Anyone calling himself or herself an American better accept the blood on their hands. And there is plenty.
So when you think about Boston, think of the victims affected and their families. But do not feel sorry for this country. Feel galvanized enough to demand better of it. We don't deserve even our own sympathy.