Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Old Country is New Again

I know, I know it's not even worth trying to argue with Salon on anything but this letter to Salon's advice columnist/wanna be political pundit, Cary Tennis, just shows how people have really let themselves go when it comes to The Current State of Things.

To sum it up (so you don't have to watch some car commercial that claims to be fifteen seconds long but is much much longer than that, perhaps 30 seconds) the letter writer wants to leave America because she is upset about the goverment. She ends by writing:

I have many obligations and emotional ties to this country, but I am seriously considering emigrating. How does one know when it is time to leave a country? How did our ancestors know when it was time to leave "the old country"?

You can read Cary's response on Salon. I have no problem with someone's decision to leave the country and I know several people who are considering this. However, I disagree with the parallel she draws between herself and those who have escaped life threatening situations in the "old country" to come to America. My great grandparents knew how to leave "the old country" when the old country kicked them out after protesting for better labor rights that didn't really exist in turn of the century Russia. My other set of grandparents left the "old country" when anti-semitism was so bad in Poland, that there lives were threatened. Some (lucky) people left Europe in the later 1930's to avoid being sent to gas chambers. In the 1970's and 1980's Vietnamese and Chinese escaped from the "old country" because of brutal Communist regimes. Russian Jews left the "old country" in the 1980s so that they would not be persecuted for their religious beliefs. Everyday Mexicans and Cubans risk their lives to enter this country to avoid the harsh and poor conditions of the "old country."

Is life in America today as great as it was in 2000? Of course not. But it's still incomparably better than life in any other "old country." My answer to this letter writer is: when things are really bad, you don't have to write a letter to Salon to decide just how bad they are. You do what my ancestors did and the hundreds of millions of immigrants to America have done before: you pack up whatever you can fit into a single bag and you leave as soon as possible.

p.s. I'd also recommend that the writer view the excellent "Dirty Pretty Things" for a perspective on how much people sacrifice today to leave the "old country."


Anonymous said...

heard a lot of this sort of thing four years ago in high school, too. "i'm moving to canada if bush wins!" yeah, your life is really crappy, isn't it? your parents are paying $15,000 a year for you to attend private school, you drive a mercedes, and your biggest worry is whether or not your grades are good enough to get into an ivy league university. go die.

Molly said...

People love to talk about actually doing this but they don't mean it. If people want to move out of the country go ahead. But I hope they know that they will not get far with the Euro which isn't friendly to the American dollar right now. Don't even think about the pound - you will starve after ten weeks.

Things are looking good for Kerry right now, but I promise you that the moment he enters office he'll start being hated by the same people who "supported" his election, especially since most people who "support him" don't really like him at all. It's not like America is going to change once Kerry becomes president. We're not going to do America: Extreme Makoever Edition where in four years we become Canada. Kerry isn't going to dismantle corperate America. I assure everyone, the crappy things they don't like now, will continue to be crappy. In a way, I find this comforting.