I am proud to be an American.
I hope this sentiment is also felt by my fellow citizens. While we may be different, I would like to think of us as joined by our desire for success, our love of our communities, and our compassion for each other. Although, you wouldn’t know that by turning on CNN, reading any news publication, or scrolling through your social media feed. The 2016 Presidential election has brought hardly anything but discussions surrounding bigotry, violence, the impending doom of terrorism, and the war that is lurking above our heads.
The timing for a production that summarizes these issues could not have been more perfect. In November Amazon released the entire first season of The Man in the High Castle, a series loosely based on the 1962 science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick. Set in a dystopian world, the show explores what would have happened had the US lost WWII. In this horrific dimension, the US has been divided into thirds; the Eastern seaboard is now ruled by the Nazi regime, the Western states are controlled by the Japanese, and a Neutral zone surrounding the Rocky Mountains divides these two new empires. The Jewish religion, the physically disabled, and the regime’s enemies have been nearly obliterated, while those who survive live in secret and fear. The days for the show’s characters are dark, bleak, and hauntingly berating. The Americans, once proud and boastful of their heritage, have been demoted to second class citizens, struggling to survive in a place where oppression has grown rampant.
Watching this series is eerie yet addicting, and the disheartening song sung in the opening credits only forewarns of a future that could be ours, if we are not careful. The US is not infallible. As Americans, we are only as good as our values, our ideals, and our actions. Watching this series made me realize my biggest fear as an American is to someday live in a country that rules itself with hatred and bigotry, foregoing the ideals we govern ourselves by and strive to achieve.
I will not argue that the US is a perfect place. We have our share of poverty, violence, and broken systems that have oppressed millions of people throughout our history. Which is why I can’t comprehend why we continue to dehumanize refugees who wish to seek asylum, who only want to build a better life for their families, a value shared by the masses who built this country.
Yes, the thought of terrorism is frightening. However, more frightening than our fear or our own imperfection are those who not only fear people they don’t understand, but who can look at their own reflection, and continue to view those different then themselves with cynicism and contempt. This disdain for others only fosters continued hatred; the very trait that terrorism continues to feed upon.
Recently, Donald Trump and other Republican presidential hopefuls have been in the news furthering the hate-filled discussion surrounding the wars in the Middle East. Never before in my conscious state of mind, can I recall hearing policy suggestions and conversation so strikingly resembling the horrors that were committed during WWII. Slurs and racist comments from our elected leaders. Talk of closing the US borders to Muslims. Suggesting Muslims register their religion with the government. Protesting refugees. Children caught in unspeakable horrors, who have been unjustly thrown into a world on the brink of destruction, forgotten about by the adults whose duty it was to protect them.
As we plan for our future, not only during the next Presidential term, but for the next generation of Americans, I hope as a nation we find empathy for one another, and learn to practice tolerance, so we may stand united against any threat that attempts to break us apart. While the plot of A Man on the High Castle may differ from the current US predicament, I do know that America needs heroes. America needs those willing to fight for it, whether it be on a high castle or from on the ground below. For I do know, it will be a very grave day in America if we pass these racist ideologies into law.
A very grave day indeed.