To live in the United States is a gift. U.S. citizenship confers great privilege. The evidence is that people from all over the world still strive to immigrate here.
I don't acknowledge this with pride; I did nothing to earn the right to be an American. In my case, it was an accident of birth. I did nothing to deserve the fortunate circumstances of being a white, middle class American and enjoying all the advantages of that. My nationality in no way makes me better than anyone on this planet; it just makes me luckier.
And I don't say this with complacency. As a country, we are facing huge problems: democracy is compromised by the disproportionate power held by corporations, for example. Our leaders' penchant for military adventures ("nation building") has degraded all of us. We have earned the wrath and contempt of the world.
In fact, America was probably never what we were taught it was.
And yet the recent Boston bombings by two disaffected youth is not only tragic (for the victims and their families, for the perpetrators and their families), it is god damn infuriating.
Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been living in the U.S. for ten years, most of their young lives. America had taken them in, and had provided them with opportunities, such as a top notch high school education, beyond anything they would have enjoyed in Chechnye, Dagestan, or Russia. They had friends and family, health and good looks, religious and intellectual freedom here. And they spat in the face of all these unearned gifts.
Similarly, Roosh's family came to the U.S. as refugees in the late seventies. Roosh writes that his father had been one of many children born of a fourth wife in a poor, rural village. This is pure speculation on my part, but I am guessing Roosh's dad had sought upward mobility through a military career under the Shah. When the Shah's regime fell, the Valizadehs were taken in by the U.S. Roosh went on to enjoy all the advantages of being a middle-class American, not least of which was an education at a state-supported university. And now he spits in its face.
I'm in no way anti-immigration. I've devoted much of my teaching career to helping immigrants assimilate culturally and linguistically. I've done my share lobbying state legislators to maintain funds for English language and other programs that support immigrants. And freedom of speech, the freedom to criticize the government or society, is just about my most favorite thing.
I've seen up close how the children of immigrants struggle. In my trade, we call them the Generation 1.5. They are dumped into American classrooms with little preparation or support: sink or swim. Depending on their parents' educational level, they may find themselves on the threshold of adulthood with huge academic deficits. They are torn between two worlds: their parents' traditional values and and the values of their modern American peers. Their parents immigrate -- often at great sacrifice to themselves -- in order to give them the gifts of opportunity and freedom, but with those gifts come cultural loss and great inner conflict.
Immigration is not for wimps.
I'm just saying, it's the lack of appreciation, the pissing away of the gifts, that jacks my jaw.