Racism and Time; Iraq and Vietnam
The Bush Administration immigration/asylum policy for Iraqis is an abject failure. More and more Iraqis are leaving their violent country, but George W. Bush does not want them in the United States, surely for political reasons -- to keep the war "over there". (Surely the State Department, who controls immigration (or doesn't?), and Condi Rice are doing Bush's bidding.)
And one of the primary justifications for this continued Iraq War is so "we're fighting them over there instead of here".
There is more than a tinge of racism to this sentiment. The recent (Republican-funded) "Freedom's Watch" ads use a mysterious third person to paint our enemies -- "They attacked us," says the maimed vet, with it spelled out authoritatively there right on the screen:
Yep, you know those Iraqi peasants? "They attacked us," I guess. Saddam Hussein must've had something to do with 9/11, then.
All of this makes me wonder: during the Vietnam War, did Asian people, especially Southeast Asians, become a sort of Other -- an Other thought of in racist terms? Tell me, ye who live through that "political hell," as misterskank calls it.
I have to assume that racism defined Americans' perception of the "Viet Cong" Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, because I know that Japanese Americans were placed in concentration camps by President Roosevelt during WWII.
But the Vietnam experience feels different to me. I personally don't perceive that much blatant racism toward Southeast Asians these days. More-generous-than-Bush Johnson, Nixon, and Ford Administrations must have allowed more Vietnamese immigrants, making the "they" more humanized.
The image of the Vietnamese American sympathizers trying to escape on the last helicopter from the US Embassy is emblematic, and forces me to think that I was born only six years after the end of Vietnam. That's almost as long as we've been in Iraq.
I guess the close of these reflections is that racism and xenophobia are alive and well today, and even encouraged and engendered by our federal policies -- "be vigilant," we were repetitively told after 9/11 -- that might as well have meant "be suspicious of your Sikh/Arab/Pakistani/Muslim/dark-bearded neighbor."
There's a law out there to "protect" the (paranoid white) folks that tattled on a group of Islamic imams that happened to be flying on a commercial flight (as if a terrorist would wear all that traditional garb).
The nail in the coffin that seals racist/xenophobic American perceptions of our Iraqi neighbors, probably for decades, is the fact that translators that worked for the Americans in Iraq, who have death sentences over their heads, are not being allowed to seek asylum in the U.S. That's just the tip of the iceberg. There's probably millions of Iraqi refugees.
It's just heartless. What a brutal, unthinking, arrogant stench that wafts our American culture under George W. Bush.
The "bring democracy to Iraq" idea is patently ludicrous. If "they" attacked "us," then who's the enemy and who's the ally? And if our allies look like our enemies, so they can't come to the U.S., then what kind of country are we?
One fewer and fewer Americans are being able to recognize....
No profanes - sacred