The America I left - reactions of a retiring expat.
As I passed customs and immigration, presented my passport and politely answered every question ("No, I did not bring any plant life or fruits...No, no animals....No...No..."), I was filled with a sense of relief to be back in my home country after a long trip abroad. Now, it wasn't an overwhelming euphoria, but this is primarily due to Dulles International Airport's intentionally inhospitable atmosphere, which is cleverly designed to disgust and repel immigration on all levels.
As I loaded up my netbook, I couldn't help but gasp at the news that awaited me. Not even 24 hours earlier, I had been answering questions about the beauty of American political freedoms. Now, on my home soil, I would be greeted with the news that a handful of students were thrown out of school for wearing shirts featuring the American flag, a spectacle made complete by the ensuing protest by Hispanic students marching against free, patriotic speech.
I can't be angry at the students - they don't know any better. I am, however, incensed at the teachers and parents for that very reason - why don't these students know better?! Are they learning anything in class, or spending all their time in detention? Teachers and parents guilty of this degree of indoctrination are unworthy of the freedoms they have been handed. If anyone takes wearing an American symbol in an America as an insult, they are welcome to return to their country. That is, if they can. Mexico has far more strict, racist and unfair immigration laws than the Arizona one so many people are protesting...Don't even get me started on Cuba. Very few people know about these laws, because the one or two people crazy enough to try to sneak into Mexico or Cuba are probably still languishing in jail without formal charges.
I'm still waiting for Kim Jong Il, whose country is widely known for it's compassionate hospitality toward immigrants (such much so that it may insist you visit them if you are even near the border), to come out and condemn the Arizona law as barbaric. Perhaps Ahmadinejad will take this opportunity to blast the United States, but I'm pretty sure Iran is busy spinning centrifuges and explaining to the families of the women they've stoned for "indecency" that they are actually very well respected protectors of feminine advancement (thanks to the west).
The America I have returned to is not the one I left. Although I've been living abroad, it was not until now that I felt homeless.