Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Indonesian Wall

I'm always shocked to find how anti-immigration the immigrants I know back home tend to be. On the surface, it doesn't seem to make sense, for they themselves were once foreigners with a dream of entering America. I'm speaking here specifically of the Indonesian community in the Pacific Northwest, and when I say "immigrants", I mean to indicate people who have recently come to the US and become citizens. Otherwise, we are all immigrants, aren't we? Some of us were simply, and through no effort of our own, born natural citizens. 

So there was a big argument on Facebook this morning among these folks and the outsiders, whom, ironically, are for the most part natural citizens. The vitriol, the lack of charity was alarming to me, and sad. Why do they seek to deny others what they themselves have attained?  How is it that they end up parroting Donald Trump, who could not care less about them or any other minority group? Or is there some problem that they have, and would have no matter where they were, with Mexicans and South Americans? 


I asked one of my Indonesian friends about this not so long ago--an Indonesian man who had become an American citizen as well as a liberal politically. Well, liberal compared to the extreme character of the Republican party at present. His guess was that the idea of other 'foreigners' becoming citizens somehow threatened to reduce their own status as citizens. It would make them less 'special' if just anyone and everyone could do it. A 'status thing', he said. Indonesians (or some Indonesians) like to 'lord it over' people, he explained. One might say that they want a wall between them and these others. 

And, to be honest, I sometimes see this pattern at work here in Indonesia--in the woman who has married a rich bule, for instance; or in the very wealthy with their servants and cooks and maids. Bali in particular remains in many ways a caste society, although the boundaries are slowly becoming less rigid. Nonetheless, one's station still matters--one's family, one's name, one's skin color and so on. And it seems that in America money matters too, for my friend is merely in the middle class while most of the haters are frickin' rich (or rather, not they, but their husbands). 

No matter how the thing is wrapped up and decorated, decked out with slogan and fake patriotism, I think that my friend is probably right about what is at the core. And that's sad, I reckon. 

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