Monday, September 14, 2020

Romney knew exactly what he was doing

Another new book I'm reading (as opposed to something I'm re-reading) is America for Americans by Erika Lee. I loved The Making of Asian America, but this one is even more powerful, perhaps because it is so timely.

Or so you might think, but the truth is that immigration is an evergreen issue in this country, and it's easier to name periods where that wasn't a constant argument, rather than when it was. (And wow: if anyone wants to wax poetic about Boston's storied history of fighting for liberty, just toss this book at them and tell you to call you when they're done. My city appears way more frequently than it should, as does Harvard University.) My family and I just finished the chapter about what happened to Mexican Americans all over the country during the Great Depression. Really sickening to read about how people were tricked into leaving, including by social workers they trusted, so "real" white Americans wouldn't have to compete with as many people for scarce jobs. And for all of the people who go on about the calculated plots people draw up that center around US-born "anchor babies", such children were in the same boat as their parents when they were pressured to leave and coerced into signing documents that meant they wouldn't be able to return. 

You can read more here about just how well Mexico fared during the Depression.

This program was sold as "voluntary departure" and "repatriation", and when I saw that term I couldn't help but think of Mitt Romney is 2012 touting his strategy of "self-deportation" for undocumented immigrants. I remember rolling my eyes when he first proposed that during the debates, and I remember the way he said it. To me, it sounded like a hokey mix of aw shucks and someone reaching for words in the moment, something Romney did frequently on the campaign trail. But it was completely disingenuous to suggest that someone who became the Republican nominee for president had never heard of what had happened during the 1930s when he was coming up with talking points on a hot-button issue and just came up with that phrase -- and concept -- on the spur of the moment.

Romney is a much better actor than many of us ever gave him credit for, and I don't think I can see him casting a vote to remove the president -- or even marching with Black Lives Matter -- and think he's the real deal.

Deb in the City

Friday, September 11, 2020

Coming back, and concerns about recent literature

Haven't been here as much this year, or last year, though I still keep trying. Which is probably what I can say for every other part of my life.

This is an evergreen issue for every blogger who hasn't monetized their blog, I know. (Looking at my blogroll right now and seeing at least three blogs that haven't been updated in months.) My excuse is that I've been dealing with the fallout from addiction for a while. No, I don't mean my own. I don't think I want to get into too much right now, but suffice to say that being around people who have ceased to be people is wearing on soul, psyche, and body. As much as a recovered addict will feel remorse for the damage they've done, that goes only so far in helping the people they've damaged.

I've been reading, of course, but at a slower pace than before. I'm re-reading some books, which is why I've been quiet about my observations, but finally getting into some new material, including The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty and The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. Looking forward to reading The Dragon Republic by Kuang, but I have some concerns.

I watch K-dramas, although less so as I've been trying to get through a backlog of books, and it's impossible not to notice the hostility against the Japanese. To the point where I'm beginning to be alarmed. Yes, I've been following the news, so I know that Japan and South Korea's relations are at a nadir, but the glee involved in taking the Japanese on and winning doesn't seem constructive. And, yes, I know the history very well. 

I noticed this particularly in The King a few months ago; there was a minor arc in which the very strong and wealthy Kingdom of Korea fended off an attack against the Japanese in uncontested waters. I had conflicting feelings watching the scene. On the one hand, I'm Korean too, and watching US take on a powerful enemy and win felt thrilling. On the other hand...what was the point of that scene in the overall story? It's come up in little and not-so-little ways all over the place for the last few years, including Crash Landing on You, Bad Guys, the Movie, Drug King, and Nameless Gangster, and that's just off the top of my head. 

I bring this up in conjunction with Kuang's series because it comes up there, too, and in disturbing, graphic detail. And it's interesting to me, because the author is American. I noticed this, also, in Ellen Oh's Dragon King series a few years ago, in which the primary villain was an evil Japanese ruler who had give himself over to an even more evil spirit.

I guess what disturbs me most is that these books are directed at younger readers. It worries me because while there are very good reasons to make sure we know our history, at this moment in time, when people are a hair-trigger away from nationalism and xenophobia, reviewing that history needs to be done such that those worst instincts aren't encouraged, but tempered. 

To be continued, I'm sure.

Deb in the City