i have not experienced an American election as avidly, as urgently watched and followed abroad as this one, ever. while in Spain this month, Ciro made it a point -- every single day of our extravagantly long vacation -- to find a newsstand -- in every single city we happened to be in -- that sold an Italian daily, so that he could catch up on the last twenty-four hours of US election history. in the three days Lindsay and Rich have been here visiting, almost every person they've met here has wondered aloud why they're vacationing here instead of voting there (in fact, as Lindsay and Rich explain every time, they get back the day before Election Day).
tonight is my first evening alone in my new Pisa apartment. alone, of course, apart from Simarik, who is busy trying to get over the trauma of a three hour car journey, and busy trying to figure out if she likes this new place any. there is lots to do before work starts next week, and it turns out they do in fact have London-training plans in store for me. but after three loads of post-vacation laundry (did i mention i have a dryer?!), all i want is the couch and the week-old New York Times that Lindsay and Rich have brought for me. but i get through all of two articles, before i want to write.
for weeks now i've been avoiding writing anything about the upcoming elections on this blog. well alright, for weeks now i haven't been writing anything at all, but bear with me. everybody -- blog-based or otherwise -- is airing their views and thoughts and perspectives on this race. and most of mine, i have felt so far, are surely already out there, and, while passionate, are not quite rocket science.
but tonight while reading about what American soldiers in Iraq are basing their election ideas on, and how Bush reminds us in every speech that "freedom is not America's gift to the world, freedom is the almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world." i thought of something *i* hadn't heard discussed yet -- at least not in what little media and op-ed wandering i have been doing these days.
part of it, i am sure, comes from the rising incredulity and frustration i see in many Europeans who are following this election -- incredulity and frustration that it can even be so close. part of it comes from having had Lindsay and Rich here to visit this week, and having Italians ask me in lowered tones whether my American friends are "pro oppure contro Bush". and part of it comes from my own experiences as a culturally and ethnically mixed up being who, while never having been an American, is very glad to have been a New Yorker. since September Eleventh and everything that came after it, i've seen and experienced first-hand a lot of the ways it has changed things for people from Muslim countries -- when it comes to getting tourist visas, when it comes to renewing your drivers' license, when it comes to asking for Turkish music at Au Bar. but i've also seen second-hand, when i travel, how things have been changing for Americans. and there is something in the vicinity of sadness and regret, that you feel when you notice how people's attitudes towards Americans are shifting. sometimes subtly, like when i see a Canadian tourgroup leader pin tiny maple-leaf flags on all his members' jackets because "you know Europeans hear all North American accents as the same"; and sometimes not so subtly, in "BUSH MERDA" graffiti and its variations on walls all over the Continent.
of course it is never as bad as the writing on the wall, in that the vast majority of Europeans that come in contact with traveling Yankees realize that they should not hold random individuals responsible for the acts of their government, that Bush was not elected by the popular majority, and that most Americans they meet tell them point-blank they are not Bush supporters.
till now, anyway.
that is what i worry about. apart from the wars and the people dying and civilizations being blown up and twenty-year-olds being sent to the front for reasons they can't intelligently explain, i worry that if George wins this time -- "fairly" or otherwise -- and if he proceeds to continue his "march of freedom" and his general administration in the ways that he has his first, it will erode in many non-American minds that last-bastion benefit of the doubt. because it is harder to forgive or understand what one perceives as a mistake on the part of another, when it happens twice over.
i worry that the dialogue and connect that makes traveling so wonderful, that Americans have already lost a tiny little bit of, that takes generations to build and even more generations to rebuild (and there are at least two peoples of the world that can tell you how long it takes to undo the one-to-one effects of guilted history and the stereotypes that trickle-down way below government level, for way longer than it takes to rebuild a synagogue) -- i worry that it will click one very sharp degree further towards a general, abstract dislike, distrust and disillusionment of a people that for the most part, the European world has until now amicably and genially nodded at for being nice, well-meaning folks.
happy Election Day folks. please. vote carefully?
[Via da Morrona, Pisa]
[venerdi 29 ottobre 2004 ore 21:46:50] [¶]