Culture Shock in My Own Country

I was born in the USA (there, now that song is in your head too) but as long time readers know, in 2004 we followed through on the promise that many Democrats have made for ages and moved to Canada.  Since then I’ve traveled here 90% for business and the occasional vacation. With Trump as president, and the culture he’s encouraging widespread, I can say with confidence that my last vacation here, during his presidency, was this past summer. I’ll re-evaluate in 2021.

But now I’m in the deep south – the heart of Trump country. This morning it was almost hilariously stereotypical – something that if I were writing fiction, people would say “Sorry, that’s just cartoonish, tone it down a bit.”

The hotel I’m staying in has free breakfast every morning . This morning, when I went downstairs, though, I heard a woman shouting. What the heck was this? It’s 5:30 in the morning (I’m an early riser.), who is having a fit at this hour.  But no, the lobby television was on a very excited televangelist.  I grabbed my breakfast and found my way to the other television.  I really didn’t need someone shouting at me before I’d had any coffee.

This TV was no better. It was tuned, as usual, to Fox News.  Here’s a bit of a dramatization.

“So anyway someone walked in to a Wal Mart in Colorado and shot three people. That’s unfortunate. BUT OH MY GOD A PERSON CALLING HIMSELF A MUSLIM HAS KILLED 8 PEOPLE IN NYC.  (we’ve forgotten about the middle aged white guy who killed 59 people in Las Vegas a few weeks ago or the guy who shot up a school killing 20 kids and 6 adults in Connecticut. Those are just unfortunate things that sometimes happen. You know how it is. Those are like car accidents – they sometimes happen to people)

Yesterday, an anchorman asked someone “They say ‘if you see something, say something’ – that’s really important. So should we call someone if we see an angry Muslim man coming in to a store?”  I don’t know – based on what I see, here, the ones we need to worry about are the folks who were born here – the ones who look like the ones watching Fox News.  People all around the world, every kind of person gets angry. Sometimes it happens in a store when you get bad service, are overcharged, or maybe, I don’t know, treated with prejudice. It almost always makes me uncomfortable no matter who it is – not because I think someone is going to start killing people (though it is more likely here than back home). So Mr. Anchorman, I can answer with a firm “No” to your bigoted dogwhistle of a question.

This level of fear mongering, xenophobia, and ignorance is really frustrating and makes me so angry. And of course there are real things to fear as well.  Every time I come here Sage reminds me not to upset anyone, particularly when driving. Road rage is a big deal here and can be fatal. But shootings are also more commonplace. I read a blog entry recently (I can’t find it now) by someone who had been in Las Vegas and they were saying they’ll have to have “the talk” with their kids earlier (not “now we realize we have to have the talk”, but we have to have it earlier.) What’s the talk? About what to do when you’re somewhere with lots of people. Know where your exits are, know how to get out if someone starts shooting, how to duck and avoid being hit.  My boss sent me an ad a few weeks ago on a similar topic: It was a workshop for companies to learn to plan for active shooter situations and how to train people on when to stay, hide, fight back, or run.  This is what this country has come to. And while this is where the country is, the media is whipping up xenophobia. Let’s blame folks who are different rather than, perhaps, taking a look in the mirror and really asking ourselves. “What is wrong with our culture that this is so acceptable we won’t even look in to how to fix it let alone do anything about it.” These problems just simmer beneath the surface, concentrating down, and getting stronger like a stock left on the stove a little too long.

Home is,  by no means, perfect. People are senselessly killed every day – sometimes hit by cars, sometimes deliberately or randomly targeted but it is still at the point where people actually do get upset when bad things happen and they demand action. I hope it stays that way – because getting desensitized and blaming others is a sure way to an unliveable country.

I’m looking forward to this weekend. I know it’s not all bad here, and the best way to remind myself of that is to go search for the good. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.

4 thoughts on “Culture Shock in My Own Country

    1. Totally. My last trip here was to Vermont – where I grew up – a very progressive state as you likely know. Even though culturally and politically it’s light years away from how it is here in Louisiana, it was still hard to be there. People were just so sad and feeling like the future was really bleak. We ended up going back to Canada early that time and deciding not to come back for a few years…

      That said, the elements of what made us leave in the first place were well and truly in place, albeit only ‘seeds’ when we left in 2004. The spark that made us leave came from the sort of division that you see every day today. Maybe we just saw it coming…

    1. Thanks – I try to be positive most of the time but it is *so* frustrating to watch. And when I see prejudice it’s even more frustrating. Not only is it unjust, it’s very often my friends they’re talking about.

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