Aliens

My wife was not born in America. She had lived here for five years before I met her, and we are working our way through the system of obtaining a green card. The experience has been frustrating for her, and enlightening for me. I had never found the word “Alien” to be derogatory, but to her, it is. She remembers using the word for “foreigner” or “immigrant”, even when she lived in English speaking countries.  Aliens come from outer space and are usually green.

Although she has visited more countries than I, it is very possible that my travels have covered more miles. When most Americans are asked where they are from, they will respond with a city or state. I usually say “America”. My lack of a strong identity of origin has fed my nationalistic pride. With that, I have always found the need to hyphenate nationality as, well, silly. My previous wife’s first words to me were “You need to know two things about me. I’m Sicilian, and I smoke”. She had never left America, her parents had both been born in America, but she felt she was Sicilian, not even Sicilian-American. We have a friend from Rhodesia, her parents were from Scotland and she has white skin and red hair, no one would ever call her an African-American.

A couple of conversations converged to bring today’s topic to the page. One was the flak over Mattel’s dolls of the world collection. Not the entire collection, just “Mexico Barbie”. Apparently some people take an impossibly proportioned fantasy totem seriously as an international ambassador. From what I have been able to find out, the people who have found the doll insulting to their heritage have no idea of what their heritage consists of. They are “Mexican-Americans” who have never been to Mexico. They wish to identify with a culture which they know nothing about. People who actually live in Mexico find the doll to be quite appropriate.

Another conversation was with a black friend. He mentioned that the Gadsden Flag was being banned in New Rochelle, because it was “offensive” and a “symbol of the TEA party”. The flag, familiar to all Americans as a symbol of the revolutionary war, has been adopted by the TEA party, but has also been used by the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps since 1775. It brought to my mind the issues in America about the “Stars and Bars” or Confederate flag. To many, the flag represents rebellion, and/or pride in Southern heritage. But other groups find it symbolic of the civil war, which they feel is symbolic of slavery, which of course is symbolic of racism, so people who display the Stars and Bars are racists, even if they happen to be black. This took us into a deeper conversation about racial terms, and he pointed out that no one from Egypt would want to be called an African American. It should also be noted that as a black person, memories of Africa would include being captured by other Africans and sold to slave traders. Maybe there’s a reason that although they tend to venerate the continent, very few recall which country was their origin. This brought to mind comments by Dr. Bill Cosby, who started his career reminiscing about growing up in Philadelphia but is now not well loved in the black community due to his portrayal of the “unattainable” status of the Huxtable family.

I knew a woman in the Air Force, who suddenly became Irish in March. She was from Savannah GA, where St. Patrick’s day brings out the Irish in everyone. A little research reveals there are nine times as many people of Irish heritage in the United States as in all of Ireland. There  are more people of Polish descent in Detroit than in Warsaw. America is a land of immigrants, I grew up with the term “melting pot”, because we were supposed to see ourselves as Americans, different cultures all contributing to the American culture. then the hyphenating began, and we became a nation of differences. A nation of Aliens. Alien nation begets Alienation. How easy it is to make people distrust a country that they do not feel they belong to?

Recently a meteorite was found that may have originated on Mercury, others have been identified as being of Martian origin. Some meteorites have contained evidence of life. Perhaps life on Earth originated from, or at least was catalyzed by, alien sources. In that case, would we all be aliens? It would fit the current opinions that we don’t belong here, that we are damaging the planet. I’m wondering what extradition treaties will come into play.

I’m considering moving someplace smaller. Belgium. Fewer occupants than Manhattan. Three languages (I speak one fluently, one I studied long ago and can survive around, the third I’m learning now). Wonderful beers, high carbohydrate diets (frites, waffles, cheeses, and chocolates), and an immigration policy much less complex than America. Probably shortly after we get my wife’s “permanent” green card. Then I will have another perspective on aliens.

 

origins

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8 comments on “Aliens

  1. Mari Collier says:

    I loved it! I, too, grew up in a land referred to as a melting pot. These last few years of political correctness for labeling a person is ridiculous. Some would call me German-American even though my paternal grandmother was born in this country.

    The hoops my son had to go through to get his wife a green card were incredible. They had married in another country. He finally hired an immigration attorney to get it straightened out. It was years before they could save up enough money to buy a house after that. He’s willing to go back to her country, but she doesn’t want to do so.

    By the way, my aliens are not green. Best of luck securing your wife her card!

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    • kblakecash says:

      Thank you Mari. The post on labels in general is still fermenting. One of the reasons that Belgium is so appealing is that I have yet to meet anyone there who is unhappy with who they are, labels such as “liberal” and “Conservative” are not insults. Due to quirks in political terms, I’m a liberal over there (Conservative here), and the people to the left of me have been comfortable discussing our differences without getting loud, or even agitated. Here they get violent!

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      • Mari Collier says:

        Interesting about Belgium. I never had the funds or opportunity to travel overseas. It’s rare to have a discussion about politics here without shouting or insults.

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  2. Great post! Thank you, I enjoyed it.

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  3. William Kendall says:

    I saw that particular fuss in a paper somewhere about the Mexican Barbie. Apparently some of the objections were about her having a passport… but as I understand it, all of the international dolls have passports.

    I imagine the Canadian one is dressed like a Mountie.

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  4. Jim Quinn says:

    I, long ago, outgrew my need to pigeonhole everyone and everything into a labeled box. To some extent, I suppose, it is impossible to completely forego the use of labels because of our need to understand the world and its denizens. My liberal friends put me in a box labeled “arch conservative, Tea Party, NRA supporter, Christian bigot” while my conservative friends stamp me with “Communist fellow-traveler, bleeding heart, anti-capitalist, and tree-hugger.” It somewhat reminds me of the bumper sticker (remember those) which said “I’d rather be a roper than a doper”. I like to think that there is (at least) a third choice. Politically, I refuse to “toe the line” of either strictly defined party belief structure and further believe that I have the ability and obligation to think for myself. This makes neither extreme position happy and raises feelings of mistrust on whether he is “one of us” or can he be trusted to “stand up for what’s right”. I suppose I shall have to struggle on as an independent and continue to use my brain to make decisions rather than rely on a list of required beliefs.
    I occasionally introduce my wife as a “foreigner”—she is from New Jersey—which is a true statement here in Texas. (Our house is not the place to be on weekends when the Giants play the Cowboys.) Her accent, which I find charming and not always recognizable, labels her as “one of them Yankees” to the group who ascribe to the belief that “The War” is not yet over. The vast majority of Texans have accepted Lee’s surrender (although they refuse to lay down their guns) and are loyal to the United States in a conservative-leaning way. One of my best friends is a card-carrying (whatever that means) liberal. He and I have many spirited discussions and agree on very few issues completely. One of the issues on which we do agree is the danger and silliness of “political correctness”. To the two of us, any position which is held by consideration of the facts as we understand them and arrived at by our understanding of the world as we know it through our individual experiences is valid. The opinions may be the conclusion draw by each of us looking at the same set of “facts” or data and those opinions may be diametrically opposed, but neither of us derides the other or demands that we give up our idiotic way of thinking. One of the tenants of Communism in Russia was the principle of “Democratic Centralism” which allowed for free and universal discussion of an issue until a vote was taken and the issue decided. From that point on, each member of the Politburo was expected to adopt the belief of that decision and to support it unconditionally. There was no “loyal opposition”. (In Texas the equivalent belief is stated, “It’s time to paint your butt white and run with the antelope.”) My opinions may not be the ones voted “politically correct”, but they are my opinions and derived by thoughtful consideration. I resent and do not deserve a label of “bigot”, “retarded” or “reactionary” for holding them. (And I have my own label for those who so label me.)
    My background (if anyone is interested) from which I derive these opinions is as follows. I have traveled the World—the only continent I have not visited is Antarctica—I am retired from a thirty some odd year career as an engineer, I am a graduate of Dallas Baptist University and a couple of others, I am a one hundred percent disabled Veteran of the United States Army, served my country proudly with a tour in Viet Nam, married (twice—my first wife is deceased) three children and a stepson, four grandchildren, former SCUBA instructor (PADI, NAUI, SDI, TDI, DAN), currently hold a real estate agent’s license and sell for Coldwell Banker, am a trained and practicing gunsmith, teach a couple of courses at Kilgore college (Home of the Rangerettes), am a HAM radio operator (AA5CX Extra Class), hold a commercial (General) radio license, DHS (FEMA) trained instructor for CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), have served as an officer and representative to district level for both the Republican and Democratic parties (at different times, of course), jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, cross-country skied the Yellowstone, and had many other experiences—some good—some bad.
    As for other-world “Aliens”, I have never personally seen a little green or gray man, a Bigfoot, a lake monster, a ghost, a giant snake or been chased by an unexplained ball of light. But, you can’t prove a negative—just because I haven’t seen them doesn’t mean they don’t exist—I can only testify to my own experiences. Let’s just say I remain skeptical.

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    • kblakecash says:

      Good to see you Jim! Among your many points, two stand out strongly to me. The obligation to think for ones self, and your unusual good fortune to have someone with an opposing viewpoint that you can discuss issues with. Those are two things that I credit my Texas beginning with. I can recall heated discussions that ended with getting another round of beer from the refrigerator. People could disagree without any level of hatred.

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