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I am a Pakistani and the only other country in the world that I know how to get along in a well assimilated fashion is the US. I love to visit the United States and consider New York City as the most vibrant city in the world, my favorite place on the planet. I used to think I come to the US for business, or visiting family and friends but truly, over the years I realized I come here to be stimulated and consider life’s infinite possibilities such as going to school in my 60’s, inspired by people of all ages, color, creed and religion who suddenly sense awareness of boundless opportunities all around them. They instantly become aware of their rights as they step out of the plane on US soil!! Incredible! What other country in the world would make you feel like that? Where else do you become ‘one of the guys’ by just stepping on a foreign soil? 

 

New York City, NY, December 31 2016:

I am a Pakistani and the only other country in the world that I know how to get along in a well assimilated fashion is the US. I love to visit the United States and consider New York City as the most vibrant city in the world, my favorite place on the planet. I used to think I come to the US for business, or visiting family and friends but truly, over the years I realized I come here to be stimulated and consider life’s infinite possibilities such as going to school in my 60’s, inspired by people of all ages, color, creed and religion who suddenly sense awareness of boundless opportunities all around them. They instantly become aware of their rights as they step out of the plane on US soil!! Incredible! What other country in the world would make you feel like that? Where else do you become ‘one of the guys’ by just stepping on a foreign soil? 

And so, on this trip of mine, mostly business but interspersed with visiting friends and family during the holiday season, I felt different. I had NEVER heard or seen defensive behavior among my fellow Pakistani origin Americans. I had never seen or heard a streak of fear among them over the past 37 years of going in and out of the US. I had never seen any of my American American friends EVER be overly nice (an uncomfortable feeling) to me. 

I felt the divisions, the segregation by color mentioned too often during dinner table discussions, to qualify workers as Spanish speaking or Chinese origin. It was discomforting and irksome. Words like depression used too often with the election results. A common state of shock and disbelief wherever I went, whoever I spoke to.  

Then there were funny tweets and incessant media with President Elect bashing! The transition team rushing in to defend Mr. Trump’s disturbing tweets and barely keeping up with cleaning up behind him. It was embarrassing to me as a visitor, let alone those who had said good bye to their homelands several decades ago. I shared the embarrassment.  

I have known Americans to be intelligent, simple minded, big hearted and proud people. Proud of their country and what it stands for, proud of being the big brother to smaller countries in the world, the only superpower as it is called. 

He says this that are funny and make you instantly break out. With Mr. Trump as the president, his shallow view of the world’s complex problems, every press conference he addresses and every public statement he makes embarrasses the very people who brought him to power. SUCH is the case of ‘democracy’ the way it has become. People like Donald Trump are voted to power, no matter what the structure and process of voting. He was voted to power and worked the system to become the president of the most powerful country in the world.

Every statement he makes, makes people laugh at his total lack of experience in holding public office, lack of suaveness of a senior corporate executive let alone his sharp jabs at women, minorities, disabled people or what have you.

Here is an example. And he comes up with something funnier every day. Just a day ago, at a press conference, reporters asked Mr. Trump about the hacking of computers and tilting the election in his favor, and we’ll just let his answer stand for itself: 

“I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure we have the kind the security we need. But I have not spoken with the senators and I will certainly will be over a period of time.”

Here is another example. Back in April of 2016, in an interview with The Washington Post, when Bob Woodward asked Mr. Trump ‘And why did Lincoln succeed? Thought about that at all?’ Mr. Trump replied the following:

“Well, I think Lincoln succeeded for numerous reasons. He was a man who was of great intelligence, which most presidents would be. But he was a man of great intelligence, but he was also a man that did something that was a very vital thing to do at that time. Ten years before or 20 years before, what he was doing would never have even been thought possible. So he did something that was a very important thing to do, and especially at that time. And Nixon failed, I think to a certain extent, because of his personality. You know? It was just that personality. Very severe, very exclusive. In other words, people couldn’t come in. And people didn’t like him. I mean, people didn’t like him”.

What is one supposed to make out of this, from someone who is just about to take office as the most powerful president in the world? This was only December 30, 2016. 

I find almost everyone I have met over the past 6 weeks in a shock if not trauma for lack of words. Everybody is shocked beyond words about how such a person could become the President. People express their shock in different ways. For example, some worry about religious divides based on statements of hatred he has made, ethnically offensive remarks he makes, his gender related views that are sarcastic and disrespectful to women and LGBTs.

So where is the leadership he is supposed to provide? What is HE supposed to give to America and the rest of the world based on his delusion of being the ‘savior of Planet’? One has to ‘give’ to be a leader! Give Something! Philosophy? Jobs? Way of life? A legacy? Or even money? What does Donald Trump have to give. 

‘Oh he will bring a team of competent and experienced professionals’, says a leading Psychiatrist in NYC. So we have them all selected and ready to take office too now! Little to be said about them! Pick any and check their pasts, reckless and dangerous.

His own family as his advisors, security cleared is very Asia style. Family as close aides? Not a common practice and who will be watching him, is not hard to guess. I m not sure this is rampant in any other country outside Pakistan or at the most in India and Bangladesh.  

Ordinary folk are worried, embarrassed, disappointed, scared and in total consternation, all at the same time at what has happened and what is about to happen. Anticipation is killing some people who are already considering moving part of their asset base outside of the US and considering options. 

Of course the sky is not going to fall on Jan 20, 2017 but what is the world going to be like? It’s not too hard to imagine. I do not believe that there will be any material change in the way the general American policy has been on global issues, but in a reality TV Show style, Mr. Trump will end every single day in a manner in which an episode of a reality TV Show ends, leaving the audience guessing and sometimes in total awe of what is coming next. Establishment will run the country with the regular inertia. People will get used to his outrageous and silly statements and start to ignore him or become hot topics for talk shows and entertainment. 

Looks like, he WILL give to America what he has been giving all through his campaign: hatred, arrogance, division and hate of one human type for the other. Divides will become more acute and wide. I noticed behavior among the white Americans (I hate to use these words – just HATE THEM!) as being either Trump Type or Anti Trump Type. Former is when gestures and body language are enough to show a so-called ethnically different person his place, low place, lower than white. It could be a white waitress serving an Asian couple in a high-end restaurant or a white attendant barely a high school graduate helping you with mailing a package at the post office. Later is when you see the white guy being overly, just overly courteous to an Asian guy passing in an aisle on a plane. Both behaviors are condescending and need not be. This is NOT the America I know. In fact this is NOT America. This is not NORMAL behavior, one that I have known all my life! It has shifted.

Interfaith meet ups have increased in number and diversity. People belonging to different faiths are showing their support to each other and promising to respect each others’ beliefs. There is a lot of ‘we'll fight-back’ emotion and action in the left wing. That's part of what makes America great, different from our arm chair politics until recently when Imran Khan drew the elite out of their arm chairs. They r talking of organized street protests etc. among other things.

Donald Trump is de-Americanizing the American People. This is the biggest asset America had, regardless of what the worldview is about what America does across oceans.

Talk about minorities. The divides are just too many which after decades of labor manifested into a society of tolerance and respect, if not equality. America WAS the one place on the planet where people could just carry on with their lives no matter what their color, creed, religion, and belief structure. America WAS where people dreamed to come for their education, freedom, protection, and rights and would give up centuries of tradition and in some cases belief systems, to come and settle down, oceans away from their origin and loved ones. Immigrant families lost total touch with their roots despite heavy investment in persevering to keep those connections, lost their loved ones and in some cases completely blended in with a foreign culture and tradition system. First generation of immigrants went through the pain, the struggle and alienation from their loved ones and this was a HUGE price to pay, tearing away from one system and grafting with another. 

American leaders are supposed to know and understand that and specially so since their own ancestors were immigrants from the very lands and cultures this new president talks down.

Mr. Trump has been handed over a full plate of opportunity like others in his place have been in history. He has majority in the Congress, the Senate and he has the Presidency. Question is: Does he see this as an opportunity? This total control will give him Absolute Power, so what will he do with it? Spread good or wreak havoc within and outside the US?

Most people I met did not feel very confident about any good coming about except that he will put some money in everyone’s pocket especially the rich folk. The banking and money sector is already preparing for unprecedented gains and getting their ducks in a row for a huge upsurge in business. He can do good, real good. But, will he? Does he have the capacity, the ability or the will? Or Is his agenda a singular agenda? Make more money and enjoy the limelight! 

Why does the new president elect shock everyone so much? ‘He shakes the core of what America stands for. He shakes major fault lines, Ethnic, Religious, gender related. He has to realize what he says is coming from the President Elect of the US and NOT from some individual called Donald Trump who has a rapid fire, un-thought answer on sensitive issues concerning the whole world.

© Photographer: R. Gino Santa Maria / Shutterfree, Llc | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Shahid Mir is an independent writer living in Islamabad, Pakistan.  

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