First of all, let’s get one thing straight: I love America. I am an American, and though it doesn’t always seem like it, proudly so. What I love about America is the conflux (and occasional collision) of people and ideas that have built America. I love that American society and culture seem to be one big ongoing experiment. I love that in America, there is the luxury of public institutions that are set up in a way that allow people to influence and change them.
However, what I don’t love about America is many Americans’ lack of love and understanding for people around the globe.
Thais are currently occupying the Bangkok International airport (it’s official name is a lot longer than that) in a peaceful protest in order to pressure the government to step down. Strategically, it’s an ingenious dilemma action – as tourism is a (if not the) major industry, the action is hitting local and international business, foreign governments, and media all in one fell swoop! Ideologically, while the Parliament of the streets is not always the best way to foster stability or democratic maturity (I don’t know enough about this specific situation to comment), I am always moved, inspired and supportive of organized attempts for popular will to influence government action. This is democracy.
Unfortunately, not all Americans see it this way. On BBC this morning (I’m American, and I usually prefer to watch CNN, but my comcast is on the fritz), they aired the comments of some western travelers stuck at the airport. I was particularly offended by some guy in a NY baseball cap (hang my head in shame – though he’s probably not even from NY) .
Have you any idea of the tens of thousands of people…whose plans you’ve screwed up?…Tomorrow is a real big holiday in the States and many people will miss it because of some cockamamey little protest that you’ve got going. (See full video here)
Wow. I mean wow. Hmm, let’s see, the future of a nation of almost 65 million, with implications for democracy in the entire region as Thailand has teetered to and from democracy, not to mention implications for the world even more generally as Thailand is world’s the biggest rice exporter…and the priority should be the tens of thousands with screwed-up plans.
Furthermore, I’m really sorry, but the whole world doesn’t care that tomorrow is Thanksgiving – this guy says it like everyone should know and respect the holiday. For the past 2 years I’ve missed Thanksgiving with my family because I was busy making revolution. This year I was looking forward to being with my parents, but I chose to spend Thanksgiving on a plane somewhere with no turkey, no ham, no lumpiang shanghai and no pecan pie. I’m sorry, but I think struggling for ethical government and basic human dignity is a little bit more important than Thanksgiving (by the way, a holiday that in true American fashion commemorates genocide and celebrates it through gluttony).
And let me not even go into the (I’m assuming by the accent) Australian girl who “loves Thailand” but hated this trip and is never coming back. I guess she loves paying proletariat Thais for massages and pillaging natural resources, but the will of the people and struggles for nation-building, not so much.
It’s these kind of selfish, geocentric attitudes that make me want to hide my blue passport.