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Traveling Europe and UK the past weeks afforded me glimpses into the unfolding macabre show of the Trump presidency. From seeing ‘Presidente’ sworn in from Catania Airport in Sicily, TVs I passed invariably trumpeted the latest shocker. Coverage that we are accustomed to see of dictatorships far away, yet with all the geopolitical import and personal relevance of it being America.
In Isle of Man Airport I saw the tableau of malevolently grinning men attacking women’s health (the BBC cleverly cut to the Williams sisters, symbols of American achievement, romping through the Australian Open). At the Days Inn Gretna Green on the Scottish-English border, the front desk clerk stung me with, “Your Trump…”
Each TV had a new bombshell, all with the common thread of harm to groups marginalized or powerless. Let’s build a pipeline to pollute your sacred lands. Let’s fake commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day and not mention the Jews. “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Who indeed has the power to resist the US Presidency? I wondered when the order to take down the Statue of Liberty would come. Congress seemed to have disbanded.
Sidebar: for those about to say, ‘this is a travel blog, stick to your knitting,’ I say this is my blog and I do editorialize. There are many apolitical blogs you can choose instead of mine. Those who take the time to read my work, I thank you. Those who do not, I bear no grudge. You can see my Republicans Buy Gift Cards, Too to debate further.
I was uplifted over the weekend by reports of citizen outrage. Not the Trump campaign entitled outrage of “Give me more! Take away from them!” This was Americans of all types standing up for people they have never met, may not like, may even harbor fear. A stand for positive American ideals. The Constitution does not enshrine hate or exclusion, even if the policy of this President.
On a midday arrival, I was first off the plane and entered a deserted JFK Terminal 4 immigration hall. The only other travelers were a 3-generation family heading for their luggage. They may have been from one of the 7 countries in Trump’s cross-hairs or maybe just had the wrong shaped noses (Saudi Arabia skates by again, a bully preys on the weak and the poor). With not a single other passenger in sight, they must have been from a much earlier flight.
By the exit stood new Trump additions: police in full riot gear and heavy armament. Guns pointed not outward, but inward, toward America and Americans.
Under the gaze of the guns sat volunteers at tables in an orderly, cordoned off area. Translators, lawyers, and others offering aid to strangers. The quiet, heads-down work of these people gave me great pride. America still exists.
Out at the Howard Beach JFK Airport station in a brisk, sunny day I gazed up as a flight passed overhead and at the flags above me: United States of America, Prisoners of War/Missing In Action, United States Army, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps. United States Air Force, United States Coast Guard.
I thought of the sacrifices so many have made for America, so many that came to America with nothing to their name, names that brought disdain or fear from those who had preceded them and had decided America should welcome no more. Those became American names etched on tombstones from Main Street to Normandy.