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What I want to convey here, are my experiences, opinions and emotions as a German immigrant - now naturalized citizen of the United States - living in the U.S.A.
My husband and I immigrated in 1991. I was 32, he was 31 years old. No children. I never wanted children, because Germany did not seem like the kind of place I wanted to raise them in.
Why did we leave Germany? The usual reasons, nothing out of the ordinary. The weather, the intolerance, the German mentality. Too rude, too intolerant and sometimes just plain grumpy and unpleasant. At least once a day I had a moment where I got angry at someone. A bus driver, a waitress, a clerk in a bookstore.
My husband and I went on several vacations to the U.S. over the years. Florida at first, the main destination for German tourists, at least back then. It was during our last vacation in New Mexico that we decided to try and make a living here.

Long story short, with the help of an immigration lawyer, many kind Americans and a little bit of luck we were able to open a small computer store in the town of Alamogordo, N.M., received our green cards and proceeded to establish a new life in our new home.
The first few years felt like one long vacation. I loved living in this new country so much, that I even changed my mind about being a mother and my children were born here in 1993 and 1995. "This is the right place to raise children, this is what I've waited for." That's what I told myself and it was true for a long time. No one was rude, people always had a smile for me and I for them, there was no ugliness, no meanness, that I could detect. In Germany, I used to smile at people and more often than not, got uncomprehending stares. What's wrong with her? Why is she smiling at me?

Fast forward to the year 1997. We had to move. Our store did not make enough money to sustain a family of four. Austin, Texas, was our next station and we still live here today. Many people told us, if you have to live in Texas, Austin is the place to be, especially if you're a liberal. And this is true. I am still grateful we didn't end up in Dallas, Houston, College Station, or God forbid, in the vast nothingness of Texas outside of the big cities.

The vacation at last had turned into real life. And things started happening. George W. became president. School shootings. A war was started based on nothing but lies. I found myself more and more outraged about all the craziness happening in a country that once made me feel so welcome, that gave me hope and the ability to start looking forward to the future instead of dreading it.

One of my outlets was writing letters to the editor at our local newspaper, the
Austin-American Statesman. A moderate paper, since this is Austin. I wrote about school shootings, about the gun culture, about saving water. Smaller issues like a bunch of feral chickens, who bugged the hell out of some of the residents in Round Rock, a city not far north of Austin. Which I did not understand, because I thought there were so many more serious issues that should have bugged the hell out of people. I wrote about a transgender teen, who killed herself, not far away in a small country town, because she couldn't take the bullying anymore.
More than once - especially when I dared to question the culture of guns - in Texas specifically but also in the whole country - I've been called a Nazi. Of course, I'm from Germany. People tried to convince me that Hitler only became as powerful as he was, because he took the guns away from German citizens. Is that what I wanted to happen? A Third Reich in the United States? No, not really, but that was a frequent reaction to my letters.

In Austin, I participated in the "Million Mom March" for gun control. We had Alex Jones and some "Duck Dynasty" lookalikes screaming and shouting at us from the sidewalk, they were fairly spitting with hate. Alex Jones has his own magazine now, "Info Wars", you can get it everywhere where store and restaurant owners are stupid enough not to know or care what Alex Jones is about.

After 4 years of Bush Jr. my husband and I said, if he gets reelected we will be off to Canada. Of course that did not happen. We stayed and we got angrier every day. In Germany I used to get angry at random people for random rudeness, random lies, stupidity. And I found myself having those feelings again, more often than not for people who were out of my reach. Like the president. Or the Texas governor.

Then Barack Obama came into the picture. A life changing experience for me, for us. The joy, the hope, the feeling of being witness to a historic event that changed the world and the world's view of America. My friends and family in Germany celebrated with us over the phone.

And then, I don't need to tell you, all hell broke lose. And I do not recognize my country anymore. I remember the place I came to in 1991 and this is not the same place. Surely, during the first few years I saw a lot of things through different eyes, and I may have overlooked that not all was good.
But what is happening here since Obama took presidency, is beyond my wildest nightmares. How we rejoiced when he got reelected! What a relief. Because this time we were sure we would be off to Canada, because we couldn't imagine life in a country, where a guy named Mitt Romney was calling the calls. I was a citizen by then and I got to vote for Barack Obama!
And then, it got worse. And we're going downhill. Farther down and even farther. Gun stores run out of guns and ammunition, because "THAT ONE WILL TAKE OUR GUNS AWAY!". More shootings than ever before. An elected president is being talked about with never before seen hate and disrespect. The Republicans/Teaparty keep continuing to fight him every step of the way. Racism rears its ugly face. A black president?! We'll make sure he will fail, we said so and we're following through.
When we say "hang him", we will not be questioned. When we say "he should go back to the melon patch", that's o.k. too. We compare him to Hitler, to Stalin, we call him every racist slur under the sun, right on!
Politicians like Ted Cruz pop up, seemingly out of nowhere, and everything that comes out of their mouths, is hate and lies. They lie with an audacity, with a shamelessness, that I've never before seen in politics, not in my lifetime anyway. They lie like little children, "I didn't do it", standing right next to the mess on the kitchen floor, hands still dirty.
Twenty little children shot dead don't make a difference. A white man can go after a black man and shoot him and get away with it. Someone comes to your house to seek help after a car accident and if you shoot that person and live in the right state, you will be o.k. If you threaten a politician, whose views you don't like and you threaten to kill that politician, you'll be o.k.
Go ahead and throw children's lunches away, teachers are keeping snacks in their rooms to help out the kids who don't get to eat. Your wife is brain dead, but she carries a child and the hospital refuses to take her off live support, that is fine and it doesn't matter what she wanted or what the family wants. It's not your decision, but you can pay the bills afterward.
Get raped, you asked for it. Be drunk and get raped, you asked for it. Be a drunk rapist, you didn't know better and your were just being careless and who's to blame you for having a little fun? Go after the rape victims and make their lives a living hell, because they destroyed the career and reputation of their rapists.
The rich are completely out of control. On our payroll. On the backs of the single mothers, hungry children, underpaid teachers, foreclosed home owners, homeless students, people with three jobs and no money, Walmart and McDonald's workers on public assistance, because they get paid shit.

You probably get my drift by now. This is not the country I chose to live in 23 years ago. This is a different place and I don't recognize it anymore. And if I had the same choice today that I had in the year 1991, it would have been a no-brainer.

Don't judge me. Or do. I came here, because it was my dream and I loved this country. I am an immigrant still, although an American citizen now, and maybe some may ask: "How dare she?" It happened before and I don't care anymore.

And there's this: I still have hope. Sometimes I can't believe it myself, but I still do. The good people in this country are not loud enough. We need to be much, much louder.

One last thing: I'm a German immigrant, American citizen, chicken keeping, water saving, god damn tree hugger, living in liberal Austin, Texas, and my vote will go to Wendy.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I left the US in 2000 to go live in Africa. (11+ / 0-)

    Coming back for regular visits, I couldn't believe the ugly transformation that was taking place. Now back for an extended visit, I'm horrified.

    I've seen many expats chime in to say the same thing.

    Thankfully, the US really is operating in a bubble of crazy. The rest of the world has, generally speaking, not lost its everloving mind.

  •  This Has Been Brewing Since the Mid 1960's. (7+ / 0-)

    It became the "vast rightwing conspiracy" Hillary spoke of by the earliest 1970's with the founding of numerous thinktanks and mobilizing of the religious right, efforts against universities, the media, and government.

    I did and still think our last chance to turn this around was the 1992 election, but 1988 immediately after Reagan would've been much better.

    It would have required a solid liberal/progressive (in the US meanings) to take office in 93 with a determination to repeal most of the major policy changes since around 1976.

    It's not going to improve any time soon. If you're in for a long fight we can certainly use every hand.

    Welcome to the Land of the Reality-Free.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 04:57:10 PM PST

  •  Danke fuer die Diary ... (8+ / 0-)

    Vielen Danke fuer die schoene Diary. I moved to the States from Germany as well. And I have to admit, I don't recognize this place anymore. And many people who grew up here don't recognize it either. I live in NC. Things were pretty nice here until the Koch Brothers/Art Pope took over in 2010 and things have gone downhill since. Gerrymandering, Pat McCrory, NC is slowly but surely becoming like Texas. Some places in America have simply become insane.
    But, we need to continue to fight and educate people. We need to continue to vote and try to keep these people out of the local and national offices.  

  •  In 1991 George H. W. Bush was president (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevskos, BlueMississippi, DowneastDem

    after a 2 term presidency for Ronald Reagan.  Republicans were seen as stronger and better on almost all fronts, the economy, foreign politics, taxes, etc.  Today we have a Democratic Senate, a Democratic president, there is a strong possibility that Republicans won't see the presidency again for decades, given the demographic changes we have had and continue to have in this country.    Most Americans look at people like Cruz and are disgusted and somewhat amused, and as a result remove themselves from the GOP even more.  We have a great chance to elect another Democrat to the presidency in 2016, which would lead to major implications for the Supreme Court and the further leftwing movement we have seen this country go.  Marriage equality is becoming a reality across the land, we are on our way to insuring more and more of the previously uninsured, there is a majority movement that wants to see minimum wages and is strongly skeptical of the 1%, a majority of Americans now agrees with almost every progressive ideological notion, something that was unthinkable in 1991 or 1994.  Yet, you get yourself worked up about dumb pols who nobody takes seriously, like a Ted Cruz or Ann Coulter?  To me that is ridiculous.  Back in the day we had people like holocaust denier Pat Buchanan making ridiculous statements about Blacks, Jews and Liberals on a daily basis, Rush Limbaugh was becoming a huge radio star with tons of advertisers, whereas today he is a discredited drug addict who has trouble getting advertisers to buy time on his show, back then we saw the likes of Jack Kemp and Steve Forbes sell the "trickle down" theory and the "10% across the board flat tax" successfully to a huge number of Americans, both now discredited and made-fun-of concepts by a majority of the American people.  

    Now, Germany?  Austerity-queen Merkel with her terrible demands on countries "not Germany" has single handedly (with a little help from Sarkozy) ruined the Greek economy for many years with no hope for a better life for Greeks and Portuguese because of her draconian austerity demands (mass firings of many government workers, higher taxes across the board, fees as far as the eye can see) in exchange for some bailout money.   When have draconian austerity measures EVER helped a state or country recover from a crisis instead of creating ever more problems and destruction.  

    Germany is ok, I lived there myself for some time, but while there are many problems this diverse country has (and always has had) I would not dream of ever living there over here because of people like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul.

    •  Sorry (0+ / 0-)

      I am sorry I've offended you. It's hard not to get worked up. I am fully aware of the good things happening in this country, but I refuse to ignore the hate, ignorance, racism, gun and rape culture and all the other sh.. going on on a daily basis.
      I never mentioned Ann Coulter or Rand Paul. Ted Cruz does have a lot of fans though.
      Yes, I do see the progress in areas like marriage equality, health insurance and a few other things. But what about the poverty, the rich who refuse to pay more taxes, the folks who don't want to pay for "other people's illnesses", the big corporations not paying their taxes year after year, what about dying cities like Detroit? Do you deny that capitalism is out of control?

      What happens is that the kind of progress we see, like supporting LGBT rights, creates a lot of hate from the other side. That's why things have gotten so extreme, there are a lot of Americans who cannot stand the idea of marriage equality and health insurance for all. And there are the folks who after almost six years are still unable to accept the fact that we have a black president.

      It may or may not be true that a majority of the American people are not happy with what's going on. If they're unhappy why isn't there more turnout at the voting booths? The majority is and has always been passive, let's hope that in light of all the craziness going on, there will be a change and people are actually going to vote when it's important.
      As long as we have all those ignorant, right-wing, religious freaks in the congress, things will not change significantly. As long as a majority of Americans is complaining, but not doing anything about it, things will not change much. I don't see the left wing movement you're talking about.

      What is your opinion about all the things I've mentioned, the shootings, the rapes, the bullying in the schools, even animal abuse is on the rise!? Why is that?
      Why is the gap between rich and poor bigger than ever? Don't tell me you can't see those extremes.

      By the way, Germany was carrying the EU economy for the longest time, footing the bill for countries like Spain, Greece, Portugal, that can't get their act together due to incompetent government. It couldn't go on forever.

      Yes, Germany is o.k., and it's not the people like Rand Paul or Ted Cruz that make me sometimes want to go back to Europe again. They don't have that kind of power ;-)
      It's the rampant gun violence, the bigots, like pro-lifers who care about cells in a woman's body, but don't give a damn about hungry, freezing, homeless American children. And there are a lot of them!

      I do my part to help wherever I can, one example is my ongoing financial support for Walmart workers who lost their jobs because they protested against their employer. I'm not just standing by and complaining.

  •  thanks for the diary. i grew up (white) in the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueMississippi

    jim crow south. the rw-ers today are trying to turn the whole country into that same jim crow south. if it seems crazy that's b/c it is.

    tip'd & rec'd.

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. ~ J.K. Galbraith

    by bluezen on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 07:15:40 PM PST

  •  Wow! Great diary, anoldworldwoman! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    isabelle hayes

    Thanks for writing this. It puts so many of my feelings and thoughts better than I can. I hope you will post your letters to the editors here at Dkos.

    The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right. Mark Twain

    by BlueMississippi on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 09:26:00 PM PST

  •  Great diary. If you have the chance, checkout (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peregrine kate

    my friend citisven...another emigre from Germany. So glad you emigrated in the first place...sorry this country has emigrated also-in a negative direction for now.

    Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

    It will never happen for the first time until it does.

    by catilinus on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 02:15:29 AM PST

  •  I came here from Germany when I was small, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peregrine kate

    so I have been quite Americanized, although the strong influence of my parents, and grandparents in particular, has given me a not-entirely-American view of the world.

    I still have much family and loads of friends in Germany, most in the South, and when we visit, they say constantly that Germany is no longer the country it used to be, and not necessarily in a good way.  I suppose it's everywhere.

    •  Change (0+ / 0-)

      Germany is changing all the time like everything else. I am visiting too once in a while, because I still have much family there (also in the South).
      I've seen positive and negative progress over there. I like how much is being done for the environment. I visited family im Allgaeu and in Munich, and was really impressed. Lots of roofs with solar panels, wind power, the majority of cars is energy efficient, and they take their recycling really, really seriously, to the point where I got overwhelmed with all the sorting and learning about what goes where.

      I'm also starting to see more tolerance. Germany has turned into an immigration country over the last decades and there are so many different nationalities! More Germans are finally accepting the fact, it's not just Germans anymore. And they needed to learn that. Of course, there is still much intolerance. It will never go away, neither in Germany nor anywhere else. There will always be people who hate what they don't know. We can only hope that these become a minority all over the world, but I don't see that happening anytime soon, if ever.

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