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.