As a white woman in a mostly Hispanic family and with a multitude of immigrant friends, I was often, and sometimes still am, called out for my inauthenticity. Like the examples in your piece, umair, I smiled and denied that anyone could be essentially bad, evil, corrupt, or self-serving. Not us! Not Americans!
My immigrant family and friends (even those who are second generation immigrants) were quick to identify and declare the awful truth of terrible people and deplorable situations while I gave empty excuses for those I detested, always giving the doubt to those who deserved no defense.
My family and friends were and are astonished and horrified at how much crap Americans tolerate without a whimper much less a loud and insistent protest.
It was they who pointed out that the American unwillingness to define and fight evil was due to our economic security. Of course, that is mostly only true for white people like me who live relatively stable and comfortable lives. For those with little or no economic security, it was fear that stole their voices and squashed their outrage, and that buried outrage eventually explodes into violence and crime, not violence against the people in power who created the inequalities but against their own families and communities.
Because of them, I finally saw the truth around me. In my youth, I protested the Vietnam War and fought for civil rights. As an adult, I believed the lies that wars were of the past and rights were won and firmly protected by those we vote to service us. I had a job and steady income. Although barely middle class, I still felt secure enough to believe the lies and overlook the truth.
Through the eyes of those who came here for economic security and to escape political upheaval, I saw how we Americans disregard what we find uncomfortable and frightening, how we defend the indefensible, deny the undeniable, and proclaim as truth what is clearly false, all to protect what we think is our security and our proud identity as Americans.
My family and friends are eternally grateful for their lives here. They have succeeded and thrived in ways that were impossible in their homelands. They are the American Dream but they are honest enough to admit where that Dream fails. They are astute enough from prior lives under corrupt governments to quickly identify and call out the growth of corruption here. They don’t fall for the lies we Americans so gullibly accept and repeat as truth. They came here with hope but also with discernment, always wary of those with the power to destroy all that is good and right in their new home.
For too long I saw through rose-colored glasses. Now those glasses are gone and I don’t like what I see. I see what they have always feared — that evil can take control of any country, including America.