Tarago Diaries #11 – Send Her Back

Mark Seymour on experiencing the politics of the USA while in the USA.

Author:  Mark Seymour.

Date: 14 July 2019.

Original URL: https://www.facebook.com/MarkSeymourOfficial/


Article Text

‘Send her back’ ‘Send her back’….

In the dining car on Amtrak No. 49 passing through Wolf Lake Indiana, en route to Chicago

New York Times on the phone..

Ilhan Abdulla Omar is her name. A Democrat congresswoman from Somalia and rep to the state of Minnesota. She’s one of a group of women, fondly referred to as ‘The Squad’, who have gone hard against the Government’s needless cruelty and suffering inflicted on families and children down on the southern border.

Rounding up so called illegals and putting them in cages.

All of these congress women are various shades of coloured. No accident there. Trump has just told them to go back to the crime-infested countries they came from, loudly.. at a rally in South Carolina.

Despite the fact that they are all citizens of the United States.

A small point I know but it needs to be made, given no democratic system is fool proof if you’re prepared to use racism as a political weapon.

And due to the weird gerrymander that’s encrypted into the presidential voting system, presumably to give punters in sparsely populated states, a ‘louder’ vote’…

Because being in Alabama somehow means you’re further away from wherever..

Most people in the U.S. didn’t actually vote for Trump.

So who’s voice counts more? His or theres?

Your guess is as good a mine. It’s the optics that matter.

Meanwhile, if the population of the dining car is any indication then the United States of America definitely isn’t white.

Right now we’re training from Manhattan to San Francisco, via Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City..

What’s politically visible from here? Not much really. Which is what you’d expect.

You’re from Australia are you? They call you ‘sir.’ That’s they’re version of ‘mate’. Even I’m starting to do it. ‘Sir’. ‘Mam’. It’s infectious. Americans are polite. Respectful. Things are running on time. People aren’t tearing strips off each other. Just getting on with it. In stores, cafes, galleries, cabs and more trains.

And there’s the rub right there. Successful democracies this size run on public quiescence. You’re allowed to vote, so you do it quietly when you can. You either endorse the system you’re in or vote for change. For whatever reason. Race, gender, income, tax, education, health. That’s it really. No fuss. No torches in the night. As long as the trains run on time, which they seem to do. At least, that’s the way democracy is supposed to look. Like it does on the street. Day to day.

Not much different to Aussie you’d have to say. Much as we’d like to think otherwise. Just to put a little distance..

Is America racist? Maybe. Maybe not. Who can tell? People love to tarnish nation states. For moral safety. An entire people under the hammer and sure, there’s always the potential. Human beings being what they are.. on a knife edge, anywhere you go..

If you scope law enforcement in so called ‘black areas’. But then again, you’ve got to go there to see it.

And we did. By accident.

Got lost on the west side of Chicago looking for Frank Lloyd Wright, ended up riding pushies through West Garfield.

Derelict streets, boarded up houses, overgrown parkland, groups of black men standing ‘round in the heat on street corners, doing sweet F.A apart from hangin’, waving and laughing at the traffic, old women sitting on doorsteps and little kids wandering through the traffic selling home-made slushy..

“Hey Whitey” one called. “You want some?”

And Everyone’s black and poor. Men, women, kids. Wherever you look. Scaled up. You just don’t get that in Aussie. Not stand alone, en masse. A huge slab of Chicago. A nation within.

and the whole place crawling with cop cars. On slow patrol, checkin’ shit out, maintaining order on a knife edge..

When you see that, the scale of it, right in your face, it hits you.

Race is a very big deal here. Race matters. It’s economic. It’s about poverty.

Meanwhile, back at Dunkin’ Donuts:

Trump is ‘wrangling the base’. Whoever they are apart from being white.. The election’s coming. And he will not hesitate at use anything to stoke them up.

Be wary of those who would come here to undermine this great nation. To take our jobs. Drug dealers, criminals, rapists, from places where crime is rampant, and where apparently, ‘the squad’ from.

They’ve even invaded congress.

There are no boundaries now. Americans are used to it. Even the Indian cabbie who chuckled when I mentioned Trump and the South Carolina rally.

‘They hate immigration but they need people to clean the toilets.’

But it’s the potential for violence that’s chilling. Not just against Omar although you can imagine she’d be under guard right now.

It’s the street that really matters.

Unless he loses of course. There’s always that. Which is exactly why he’s going hard. There’s an election next year and they’re all starting early. Even if the violence materialises, as it did in Charlottesville, it won’t have been him. It’ll have been ‘bad people’.

Republicans in congress either love him or they’re shit scared of him and who can blame them? I mean, the guy really is a vicious no-holds-barred pig who doesn’t care. There’s no getting round it.

And those who joined the chant..

“Send her back. Send her back.”

who knew in that moment that everything was cool. It was ok. ‘Yes. We can do this.’

What of them?

You’ve gotta ask yourself though: Does Trump wear slippers at night? Does he sing Jingle Bells at Xmas?

Human beings will believe anything if it gives them hope. What choice do they have?

But what toxic hope it is.

If there be monsters, surely he is one..

In the entrance to Bloomingdales in downtown Chicago there’s a ‘no ‘concealed carry’ sign. Punters have to be told that here..

like ‘no dogs allowed.’

As for the caged illegals down on the southern border, well, they’re version of hope is slightly different.

Which reminds me. It’s only a short leap after all, to the words of the refugee on Nauru who says she has a simple choice now:

“Australia or death.”

but still as I gaze out at the Kansas sunrise, I’m also reminded of that Joni Mitchel song, ‘Fiddle and Drums’..

‘And so I remember all the good things you are’..