“Please just immigrate [sic] if you haven’t.”

Over at Sumeia Williams’ great blog Ethnically Incorrect Daughter [ link ], there is an item discussing the case of Heidi Bubb, and the documentary that was made about her return as on adoptee to Viet Nam, Daughter From Da Nang. In response to something I posted there ages ago came this response:

You are a fool of the first rank. Furthermore, you are truly a “barbarian within the gates,” and you should be expelled from this country, as the Romans would have pushed out an angry Parthian or Goth. If you despise your adopted nation so much, then please pack up and leave immediately. You are unloved by most and will not be missed in the least. Oh, and you have a most simplistic view of the history of empires, as befits an obvious simpleton. I’m most familiar with the Romans and Byzantines, so I’ll cite them. Despite your 18th-century viewpoint of the matter (which is largely stolen from Edward Gibbon and his successors) that decline is due to the “decadence of the population,” the fact is, even when there were periods of decline or torpor, this Romanic culture reinvigorated itself. When empires do collapse, it can be for many reasons. Read a bit in history before you make such facile observations.

You give a watered-down, Howard-Zinn type synopsis of U.S. history that simplifies and is basically a leftist jeremiad, with only some hooks in reality and mainly the product of pathological hatred. You lambast Batista, but I’m sure you love Fidel Castro and his fat brother, whose regime has perhaps killed 100,000 Cubans, does not allow free elections, has forced political opponents to flee and uses the U.S. as the convenient bugbear under the beds of the good Bolsheviks of the island. Amnesty International has a nice large dossier on the many civil rights abuses recorded in Castro-land. The U.S. embargo against the island was entirely justifiable while Fidel was the dutiful puppet of his masters in the Soviet Union and while Cuba meddled in so many foreign countries itself (as ask some Angolans about this, sometime).

Japan? Are you serious? Have you reached Alex Jones level as a fluff-headed conspiracy theorist? You ignore the fact that Japan killed around 10 million Asians from 1932 through 1945. The sheer brutality of their actions in China, Korea and the Philippines are amply documented, and it was a calvacade of horrors for years–medical experiments on civilians (amply documented), “comfort women” forced into sex slavery, mass bombing of civilian populations, etc, etc. I’ve spoken to some survivors of this occupation, and the horrors they told me about in rather sober language defy belief. You ignore the fact that the U.S. was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor and by a full-scale invasion of what was then a U.S. Commonwealth, the Philippines. I’d say U.S. military action in retaliation was fully justifiable.

I could go through point by point with everything else you blathered, but it would take a very long post, and I haven’t time at this moment. I will say that the dubious “honor” for largest number of American Indians decimated by far goes to the Spanish Empire, and disease vectors played as much of a role as any military actions or hostilities. This has happened again and again in many countries, not just the U.S. The aboriginal inhabitants of Taiwan were pushed into odd corners of the island by the Han Chinese. The “negritos” of the Philippines were invaded, conquered and marginalized by the Malay Filipinos. Australia was more or less replay of the Americas. Even most of the countries in Europe had different inhabitants at one time–England wasn’t Anglo-Saxon, France wasn’t Frankish, Bulgaria wasn’t full of Bulgarians. And so on. This is not to deny a great tragedy took place in the U.S., but that this type of tragedy is the tragedy of the human race as a whole.

Please just immigrate if you haven’t. Go back and live in Parthia, barbarus.

I’ve highlighted some of the choicer bits because they seem to me to bring to the fore what lies behind the command that we be “grateful”. The accusation of “hatred” comes up again and again; this seems to be more a projection against those who don’t conform. Yet again, this illustrates for me the sanctimonious projection of salvation from an exceptionalist nation that lies at the heart of adoption practice, which might be seen as just a “softer” kind of arrogant domination.

I’m most intrigued by the repeated references to “barbarian” and “expulsion” from “within the gates”. This makes direct reference to Vienna as a bulwark against Islamic encroachment, but also more pointedly to Charles Loring Brace, founder of the Children’s Aid Society of New York, creator of the Orphan Trains that emptied the urban centers of the eastern seaboard of their poor and indigent in order to provide labor for the westward expansionism of the United States, and who referred to the children he so “rescued” as “street Arabs” from the “dangerous classes”. And so we come full circle.

Given what Japanese-Americans suffered during World War II, given the majority of minority residents imprisoned in the U.S. prison system, and the current trends of immigrant deportation and Islamophobia, this takes on obvious sinister overtones. And whereas I often say that I prefer my racism “straight up” as I experienced it while living in France, as opposed to the kind of subliminal and somehow-excused racism on display here, I would be curious to ask other adoptees here what they think of this, which is basically the simplistic T-shirt slogan: “America: Love It or Leave It!” and the call that I “emigrate” (I think he means) as directed toward an adoptee who never chose to go there in the first place, and who was “immigrated” against his will?

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3 thoughts on ““Please just immigrate [sic] if you haven’t.”

  1. I’d say another patriotic American who can see no fault with their country or hear any criticism of it however justified. I’ll make further comment only on the area I know a little about: “Australia was more or less a replay of the Americas” a statement that indicates how little your ‘historian’ commenter knows and has gleaned from a comparison. Australia was not colonised by the religious right for starters. Another attempt to silence an adoptee using an old tactic and a nasty one at that. How little success these people seem to have these days!

  2. “You lambast Batista, but I’m sure you love Fidel Castro and his fat brother, whose regime has perhaps killed 100,000 Cubans,”

    How do any sins of Cuba excuse the sins of the United States?

    “does not allow free elections,” :: as opposed to the illusion of free elections in the United States?

    “has forced political opponents to flee” :: as opposed to flouting 800 years of common law and illegally detaining people without access to the existing judicial process?

    “and uses the U.S. as the convenient bugbear under the beds of the good Bolsheviks of the island.” :: as opposed to using everyone on the planet as a convenient bugbear?

    eagoodlife describes our loquacious colleague as a “patriotic American,” but only in manner of speaking. He’d be saying the same things if he lived in England or Canada or most of Northern Europe. His grasp of detail in history, even if sketchy in places, is far above the usual tirade-level of your average USer. He is a defender of the US only because the US counts itself at this (point) as the vanguard of civilization, as England once might have.

    He uses the atrocities of other powers, and the “universality” of displacement by aggressors over the course of history (recorded by those aggressors) as justifications for US behavior now, and that’s ultimately not patriotic, because when South America starts taking its political (and not just its economic) revenge upon North America, unless the US (like another “Romantic” nation) reinvigorate ourselves, then when we are pushed into the corners, the justification for that will be the universality of human experience, as this writer sees it.

    It’s only because he’s too blinkered to see this tht he argues like he does.

  3. My response to the “US: love it or leave it” rhetoric tends to be two-fold. My first response is usually, “Give me a plane ticket and a place to go and I will.” And then the second response, which is actually more apposite of the sentiment being expressed is, “If you have such a problem with me, then you leave.” I say the second is more apposite, because it responds more directly to the assumptions that underlie the command that I should leave. Since dissent is permitted, and he doesn’t like my dissent, then he’s on the wrong side of the argument, and should excuse himself. My first response, by contrast, is more what I want the truth of the matter to be; that is, my dissent arises from the untenable absurdities of the culture I find myself stuck (in various ways) living in. I am EXTREMELY SYMPATHETIC to other countries of the world that would say, if I tried to move there, “No, we don’t want your kind.” I certainly understand; US imperialism is already bad enough, no need to let expats import it in person.

    So I would want to reflect that back to an adoption context.

    I think my first reaction speaks to what Daniel poitns to as involuntary immigration; I didn’t ask to be here. Human beings (like Frankenstein’s monster) can raise this question of their creators, but as adoptees we have a wider ambit for the question, since not only did I not ask thee, maker, to mold me human, I also didn’t ask to be molded human *here*. I didn’t ask, we adoptees didn’t ask, to be poured into this mold, so “Our family: love it or leave it” has all sorts of snarled consequences. Thus, to allude to the one question about why adoptees break contact, it’s because “give me a plane ticket and a place to go” is, perhaps, a first impulse in the face of that question. An impulse we can’t follow while still minors, and make use of when adults. (By which I mean, not only that we might return to our putative homelands, but at least that we exile ourselves from the place we’ve been told we should call homeland.) Now that my entire family has moved away from the Pacific Northwest (in the USA), living there would be fine for me; it’s a desirable country to me.

    Of course, “give me a plane ticket”, as noted above, dodges the real point in “our family: love it or leave it”. The adopted child, as a human being, has the right if not the standing to to tell the parents, “If you don’t like me, you leave.” And that’s the path we don’t first take, usually for lots of good reasons as children, but maybe it’s something we shouldn’t take off the table as adults. But to the extent that we still feel our welfare is–or the extent that we accept a convenience of letting our welfare remain in part–tied to the people who at least in theory agreed to take care of us, then this makes “then you leave” frightening or worrisome, even into one’s later years.

    More could be dug out of this. I’ll let this stand for now.

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