It is not uncommon, in the circles in which I travel, to hear someone say that s/he is going to emigrate to Canada (or Sweden, or whatever, but it's usually Canada) if Bush is re-elected (or if a constitutional amendment against gay marriage is passed, or if abortion is outlawed, etc.).

Well, I'm not going. Not because I don't think things might not be more pleasant elsewhere--they certainly might be. Not even because I don't believe the sky is really falling right now, I think we're just in a trough and things will get better again, even if we have to endure four more years of Shrub first. Because this is my country and goddammit they are not going to chase me out!

The way I figure it, I am a descendant of three types of people. The first are the people who owned this land before there was such a thing as owning land and who had it stolen from them. The second are people who were chased out of other places due to their religious beliefs, economic circumstances, etc. and landed here to try to make something for themselves, often at the expense of others, for centuries. The third are people who were abducted from their countries of origin and brought here to be enslaved. All of these folks have more right to this land than any imperialist power or any government built on greed, and I, as their descendant, have a responsibility to stand on this soil and fight for this country for as long as I possibly can.

I am not so naive as to believe that this country is the best place in the world. It may well be, but having not traveled outside it, that's not for me to say. Best or worst, though, it's mine and I plan to defend it. Yes, I could go to Scotland or to The Netherlands and find reminants of my history there, long-dead ancestors who stayed in their motherlands. But those are not the ancestors to whom I would pray, were I to pray to ancestors. Rather, I would pray to the Dutch immigrants in Missouri, stealing mules to feed themselves until they could move west. I would pray to the stubbornly Catholic Scots who landed in Pennsylvania and waited for the real winter to begin. More than anything, maybe, I would pray to the long-lost "digger" Indians of the Pacific Northwest. People who hundreds of years ago built their lives in the same valleys I dream about more and more the longer I am away from them. These are my ancestors, and they were violently chased out of their homes by bigots and imperialists, the intellectual, if not literal, ancestors of our current regime. I owe it to them to resist being chased out of mine.

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April 2012

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