Last weekend I went to Chicago. A Canadian in the United States of America. Well, one of many. First of all, let me say that Chicago was absolutely wonderful. It's a beautiful city with wonderful people. Being a tourist I visited the Sears Tower, the waterfront, and went to see the musical Wicked.
However, I must say at this time that as a result of my, and friends' visits to the land of the free, I have realized how absolutely ignorant the people are and how messed up the American system is. Now this will come across as offensive to many. And it should. But it should also be known the impression the American people have on those visiting their country.
First, as I was entering the US I was harassed by American customs. I wonder why that could be. Even my bags were scanned. Again, I wonder why that could be. What a wonderful way to say welcome to America. The racist asshole at customs figured I must be up to no good because I have brown skin and a Muslim name. Makes sense doesn't it.
The rest of the trip was fine though I have to admit I did at times feel like a fish out of water. That could be because the US is not home, and as they say, there's no place like home. As a Canadian who visits the US, I can attest to that. There really is no place like home.
However, when I was there, the stories I heard from a fellow Canadian living in the States about the American people annoyed me. How they don't know anything about Canada, the country next door. How they don't know that they are the only country in the entire world with embargoes on Cuba, still whining about Castro becoming president. Seriously, get over it. It's been what, 4 decades! The rest of the world has moved on.
And I was shocked, absolutely shocked at the level and acceptance of Islamophobia in that country. Before I went I knew this existed though. The Islamophobic accusations toward Obama and the way that no one challenged them was completely shocking!!! How is it possible that overt and explicit racism like that is acceptable? But when I was there, I felt like I could not talk about being Muslim. I could not talk about how I hated the extreme individualism of the culture. I couldn't talk! Unheard of in a "free" country. Waiting in the Chicago train station watching Fox news (sorry piece of crap excuse for journalism) I felt that if I were to say "I am a Muslim" people would panic and run away from me. Being a Muslim in America is a stigma it seems. Perhaps the Muslims living in the US don't see it that way. But as a Canadian Muslim visiting the US that is the way I read the situation.
My experiences combined with my friends who visited the US at the same time:
Louisiana: Where the poor people have not had their houses rebuilt yet and are completely neglected by their government - the richest in the world. It's been over 2 years! I guess they have more important things to spend the money on, liking killing people in Iraq.
NY: Where two women were overheard saying they would never vote for Obama because his name rhymed with Osama. Great strategy there morons. And these women were teachers!
DC: Where at a conference, attended by academics and community professionals, they did not know what diversity meant. Nor did they know what "the West" meant. Oh, and many didn't know what Western feminism was - and this was a violence against women conference!! Apparently they've been doing research on violence against women without looking at the ecological model (the environment impacting our behaviours). How is that possible?
Anyhow, enough of my rant. Those Americans reading this are probably a little pissed off now. However, don't be. Just take this as an example of how your country is read from a visitor's point of view.
However, I must say that although we faced some harassment at the Canadian border when returning I have never felt happier and prouder to be Canadian (stupid customs people - racism sees no borders eh?).
God bless Canada!!