Protecting the Nation from White Guys Entry into the United States

This new “Protecting the Nation” executive order creeps me out from Africa.  I mean if “our number one responsibility is to protect the homeland,” as House Speaker Paul “1984” Ryan asserts, will I not get “approved for admission” at Dulles airport when I return to the States this summer?  I don’t intend to terrorize my fellow Americans, but I have to admit that a bunch of white, Christian-raised dudes that look like me have done exactly that.  Maybe we need maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of chaps w/ my profile?

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A week in South Africa back in December most definitely brought multi-culturalism, diversity, racism, and racial inequities into my frontal lobe. But even there (or maybe especially there), I witnessed a greater willingness to talk about them openly, rather than condemnation of politicians or commentators who bring “that racial component” into public discussion.

Hey, we all remember Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichol’s number in Oklahoma City, for example, and maybe Wade the Page’s shootings at the Sikh temple in Milwaukee.  Both kind of seem white mini-Christian jihads to me.  And while less religion-motivated, don’t forget Eric and Dylan’s deadly actions in Columbine nearly twenty years back.  Add my former next door Unabomber neighbor in Montana, Ted Kaczynski, and from way back when, Charles Whitman, former-Marine turned U. of Texas sharpshooter.  Don’t disremember Jimmy “Jonestown” Jones, white kid and early Christian evangelist from Indiana, who helped wiped out over 900 Americans in Guyana, mostly black people, in 1978.  Or most recently, what about Dylann Roof’s shooting those nine black churchgoers in Charleston, who apparently were culpable because of all of “the innocent white people that are killed daily at the hands of the lower race.”  Really, white Christian America under threat from brown, Islam non-America?

Hey, I know the “Protecting the Nation” order applies only to foreign nationals, but who’s to say who’s “foreign.”  Maybe anybody who doesn’t get with the program?  I do have German heritage, after all, and we all know we should hold every German-affiliated individual on the planet alive today personally responsible for the Holocaust.  As an aside, the first genocide of the 20th century took place in Africa, again black people victimized and again Germany the culprit (to its credit, Germany is owning up to it 100+ years later).  And I know from watching all three films in the Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo trilogy that my Swedish relatives can get pretty bad ass too.

 I hate to say it, but for common sense you should demand that the Department of Homeland Security keep Kris Wernstedt bad people types out of the country until it can ensure that he and other potentially bad white guys approved for readmission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States. 

Hey, a bit of a scree here from Tanzania, but as I’ve said before, it’s hard to go into my office these days with American First hanging over my presence.  Or White America First, perhaps.  Most of the English language newspapers here in Dar es Salaam do better reporting on bile coming out of the White House than on counter demonstrations erupting everywhere (like President Trump having to cancel his visit to Harley Davidson in Milwaukee because of protesters, yes!!).

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Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu never resided on Vilakazi St. at the same time, as far as I know, but how cool is it that two Nobel Peace Prize winners have spent much of their lives on the same street? Complicated individuals, to be sure, along with Sam Nujoma, anti-apartheid activist who lived in exile for 30 years in Tanzania, before returning to Namibia in 1989 and becoming that country’s first president in 1990 (Full disclosure, I drive down Sam Nujoma Rd. in Dar every day to get to work). Compared to the current US leader? Sad. “In politics, and in life, ignorance is not a virtue.” (17 May 2016)

On an(other) side note, many of my University colleagues in Dar paradoxically think that the legitimacy and unity conferred by a fair election trumps the right to protest against its results.  The George Washington of Tanzania himself, President Julius Nyerere, famously wrote that democracy is stronger in a single party representing “America First” than with multiple parties, each representing only a section of society (okay, not the “America First” part, but he did assert the larger claim of opposition being anti-democratic, anti-nation-building).

In a poll of 1,600 Tanzanians back in August, for example, 7 out every 10 respondents agreed that democracy is preferable to any other kind of government, but 8 out of every 10 agreed that “once elections are over, the opposition should accept defeat and help the government develop the country; the other 2 out of 10 said that “after losing an election, opposition parties should criticize and monitor the government in order to hold it accountable.”  I go with the second, clear thinking group, at least as the sentiment applies to the US system.

Back to the embarrassment part.   While I feel crushed by the bigotry coming from the Administration, want to hide under a rock out here in the other 95.7% of the world, and might even be willing to convert to Islam while simultaneously taking a citizenship oath in Canada, Sweden, Namibia, Vanuatu, South Africa, Bhutan, and/or a hosts of other countries to cover my shame, my Tanzanian colleagues continue to treat me totally graciously.  I’ve not seen a hint of personal animosity, resentment, or taint because I’m filthy rich (relatively), come from the world’s leading arms exporter and military drone user, and am white.

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I vaguely remember the Hector Pieterson shooting by police in Soweto in 1976, and the international outrage generated by the famous picture of the body of that 12-year-old kid being carried to a nearby medical clinic with his big sister running alongside. It took ~15 years to get a small stone marker established for him, ~25 to get this larger, lovely Memorial supported by national, local and private resources. In the much wealthier US, it took nearly 60 years (and the efforts of a dedicated citizen’s group organized by a county supervisor) to get anything to honor Emmett Till, the 14-year-old African American kid killed by two white guys (acquitted in trial, on since recanted testimony) in Mississippi in 1955.

On the latter, I’ve begun to realize that race gets just as complicated here, albeit with different manifestations.  The overwhelmingly majority black population in Dar camouflages residential segregation along racial lines with economic screens, for example, except for the notable expatriate community on the Msasani Peninsula.  Having said, this, while I’m going out on a shaky limb, I’d guess that systemic racism against whites didn’t ever and doesn’t now exist in Tanzania.  Other insidious forms of rac- and other –isms, but not with a “white person is lower race” spin.  More generally, I haven’t heard many “those” or “you” people comments, although I suspect they populate many conversations.

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Hard to argue with this perspective from a Tanzanian colleague, which came to me on a WhatsApp group post the other day.

Ending w/ non-sequitur, I went to clinic for minor medical problem on Tuesday.  Only $11.19 charge. VERY IMPRESSED. RIGHT DECISION. GREAT.

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