Friday, February 4, 2011

The Spirit Of Our Nation And Tacoma

India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation's RemakingAnand Giridharadas said it better than I ever could during an interview with comedian Jon Stewart the other evening. Author of "India Calling: An Intimate Portrait Of A Nation's Remaking", Giridharadas said it is not so much that India is undercutting America economically as they are in spirit. It is the spirit of his parent's nation that has led him back to live there.

Giridharadas is not an immigrant, his parents are. They raised him in America and were proud to do so. Both he and his sister are successful in the computer industry with highly paid jobs in the field. But he has returned to India much to his parent's surprise. He has left this nation because he feels the spirit of America is fractured. It is that fractured spirit, he said, that is resulting in our economic demise.

I sense this broken spirit nationally and locally everywhere I go lately. People come from other cities to start businesses and they nearly get run out with pitchforks and torches. Suspicions abound. Divisions are getting more severe. There are the rich, the poor, the able bodied, the disabled, whites, those of other races, long time residents, new neighbors and we are all fighting. But what are we fighting for really? Why are we not pulling together? In these times why must we continually dig more trenches and stir up more division and strife? Why are we so afraid of one another? Everyone single one of us has a story. Those stories come from everywhere. The person with the frayed dirty coat and the several days of facial growth? He didn't end up on the street in any one particular way. Each person's story is different. Why do we assume he must be there because he is on drugs and doesn't want help? Why don't we ask him to tell us his story?

Why are we running our hispanic immigrants out of our city and down to a detention center on our own tideflats in Tacoma? In the late 1800s Tacoma did this to the Chinese. There were signs everywhere telling the Chinese to leave. Then we did it to the Japanese during World War II. We are doing it right here in Tacoma to hispanics. No one is beating us down with bombs right now, but they are beating us economically. Both Japan and China are spirited nations with a collective economic goal. As Giridharadas asserted the other night, it's not because the inhabitants of these nations are any smarter than us, it's that their spirits aren't broken. Ours are. It starts in our neighborhoods and spreads like a viral strain that cannot be stopped with antibiotics. I want to think it's going to stop. I want to think there is a cure. But when people like Giridharadas leave this nation and take his talent with him due to our ongoing and increasing fractures, I start to lose hope. -Alison Whiteman

Anderson Cooper, Son of Gloria Vanderbilt Attacked

Look, Egypt, it's clear you are angry. But now you have really pissed us off. You hit Anderson Cooper, according to reports, about ten times in the head. It's not just Cooper we are worried about, but also that young MSNBC reporter Richard Engel. Engel is always in the middle of some horrific scene with his bullet proof hat on. Engel always speaks eloquently despite what is going on around him. Engel is younger than Cooper and I am pretty sure his makeup team has been covering up the dark circles under his eyes with heavy makeup. He's been reporting nearly non-stop since the mayhem started. We respect both of these reporters for the hard work they do in war zones.

Cooper doesn't even have to be a reporter in a war zone. Look at that mother of his. I mean, does the son of Gloria Vanderbilt even need to work? After touring her mansion in North Carolina when I seventeen, I think not. I tried to hide out in the basement where the large swimming pool is, but security strong armed me and threw me out onto the lawn and back to my parents who sighed and said, "Christ! Now that's she's been found, we have to send her to college to get rid of her!"

Egypt, calm the heck down. Don't tie up reporters and while you're at it, leave that poor 76-year-old retired Egyptian historian who is trapped in her apartment because you won't disperse from outside her door alone. She said she will hit any intruder on the head with her rolling pin. If you think she's kidding, you have never worked with the elderly. They are quite dangerous with their scooters and walkers. Also, if those elders act all nice and offer you a baked cookie with milk or something, don't think for one second it's not laced with something to knock you out permanently. -Alison Whiteman