An alternative perspective for anti-immigration individuals

Photo credit wikimedia commons

Photo credit wikimedia commons

By Angelo D’Amato, Contributing Writer

Scene:

A waiter is conversing with another waiter in a Paris Café when he sees a group of men sit down at a table.

Waiter: “Excusez-moi, un moment.”

As he’s walking over to the table, he hears the men speaking.

James: “This is a nice place.”

George: “You think they’ve got burgers here?”

Al: “Nah, this is Paris. Salads all the way.”

George: “No! I was in a restaurant the other day and they had burgers!”

Al: “Good for them.”

The waiter mutters to himself.

Waiter: “Ah. Les Amèricains.”

He clears his throat:

Waiter: “Gentlemen, uh, how are you doing today?”

George: “Good, sir.”

Al: “Just fine. I’ll have this here sirloin steak.”

Waiter: “…sirloin steak…”

James: “Erm, le spaghetti, s’il vous plait.”

George: “Un burger?”

Waiter: “We…uhh…do not serve burgers here, monsieur.”

George: “Damn. Worth a shot. All right. How about a fried tuna?”

Waiter: “…fried thon…”

The waiter closes his notepad.

Waiter: “Gentlemen, we will have your order ready shortly.”

The waiter leaves.

I would like you to take note that the waiter in this scenario was able to switch into English.

I studied abroad in Paris last semester, and every time I heard a waiter speak English in a café, my heart broke a little.

I’m being serious. It was genuinely upsetting to see that.

The waiter in this scenario is based off the waiters that I saw. He goes home every night, heavy at heart, because part of his job requires him to use a language that historical circumstances have imposed upon him. This waiter is annoyed because he HAS to surrender his culture to a larger one in order to survive.

I’m imagining that this is similar to what you go through when you hear people speaking Spanish, or when you see ‘dem Mexicans’ in restaurants, or when you hear that school districts are mandating that students learn Spanish as a second language. You perceive other cultures as threats to American culture somehow, and you are afraid of losing what you know and love.

I’m also imagining that, like the waiter, you are bitter because you feel like this country is being forced to do something that it really shouldn’t have to do.

I can imagine why—perhaps you have been told countless times that America is the greatest country, and you’ll be damned to see it fall into the hands of another culture. Perhaps you have never learned how to see yourself in another person. Perhaps you are so used to being stepped around and kicked on that you will take out your rage on the nearest minority population.

I don’t know if you’re afraid of admitting that you’re angry about the loss of American culture, I don’t know if you’re ashamed to be angry, I don’t know if you think you’re stupid for having ‘conservative views.’

I do know that whatever you’re thinking and feeling is okay. Engage it. Wrestle with it. Find out what you think and feel and why.

I am not saying this so that you can lazily justify your beliefs, but rather so that you can feel less conflicted and less ashamed and maybe less defensive about having them.

You have to tell your stories for yourself. You have to insert yourself into the political conversation and you have to think critically about why you believe what you believe. You have to do this without using impersonal, inflammatory rhetoric. Doing so allows you to be open to new ideas.

It might be scary, and you might learn things about yourself you don’t necessarily like.

That’s okay. It’s part of learning about who we are.

So know that it might not be easy, and go and do it, and then speak up because your story is welcome in the conversation.

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