Second-Class People

Words? Music? No: it’s what’s behind.
James Joyce, Ulysses

This week, a friend bluntly told me that if “I wanted to influence the American voter, I should start by knowing the American voter [emphasis added].” He had just published a book trying to do just this, but come on. I have no ambition to “influence” any American whatsoever, how could I? So far I’ve been having a hard time just minimally understanding the “American Way of Life,” and would be perfectly happy if my (sometimes shocked) reaction to what happens here raised at least a few eyebrows. I mean, attracted some interest in what I write.

I’d originally planned to title this chronicle “Second-Class Citizen,” but honestly, I need to admit I haven’t yet reached this level: I’m considerably less than a citizen in the U.S., something that may eventually change in a couple of years. That is, if I “behave” accordingly and learn American history, how many stars there are on the flag and so on, and how to properly speak English.

“English?” “History?” What am I saying? Or thinking?

At least today I believe many Americans to be as puzzled as I am by the final proof that, yes, there are around 300 million “second-class people” living in the U.S. If the Clintons are first-class (which ironically reminded me of one of Donald Trump’s slogans, also allegedly a “white supremacist” slogan: “America First”), everybody else, except Obama and a few of his “acolytes,” are actually second-class citizens, and the law does not count for them: you, me, and whomever you can think about in a heartbeat. Including Donald Trump, the disgraced billionaire who once dared to dream a political future for himself.

As a sidebar, can you imagine the damage to the “Trump brand” once he’s defeated as a candidate for the presidency of the United States? Poor guy. He will be worse off than me.

All these thoughts came to my mind when I heard F.B.I. Director James Comey’s statement about the exhausting investigation of Hillary Clinton emails, the exact same issue Bernie Sanders declared ages ago nobody was interested in. It turns out she’s not going to be indicted, and, lo and behold, there goes the golden dream once dreamed by conservatives (and maybe a few independents) concerning the U.S. 2016 presidential election.

“Don’t be in such a hurry,” Alan advised. “Let’s wait a couple of days and see what happens.” It turns out he may be somewhat right, since Comey’s statement sounds so much like a condemnation that even The New York Times qualified it in its headlines as “a ready-made attack ad,” which Donald Trump efficiently metabolized into a video.

Alright. Some things are difficult to deny. The “silver lining” for Ms. Clinton, the article adds, is “this is not a normal election year,” of course not. Someone out of the usual political spectrum has dared to defy the establishment — and Ms. Clinton — although, let’s face it, he’s not doing very well. Moreover, people forget everything quickly. It will all depend on how much money is invested in the aforementioned attack ad, and on how fast Donald Trump is finally capable of “acting presidential,” not anytime soon apparently.

In a spectacularly well-orchestrated move (Overture: Loretta Lynch meets Bill Clinton in Phoenix Airport; Adagio: Hillary Clinton is questioned by the F.B.I on July 3rd; Minuet: James Comey reads his statement live; and Allegro, con Brio, Obama and Hillary rally together in Charlotte, NC), President Obama embarked on a patriotic journey to elect Hillary and therefore assure his widely cherished “legacy.” After all, she wasn’t doing so good on her own.

To watch the two luminaries together was live drama at its best. Hillary’s undeniable political acumen (how else could she accomplish so much as a politician?), now reinforced by Obama’s unbelievable, unprecedented charisma, provided an elated experience. He looked slightly bored while sitting on the podium behind her as she described her wild adventures with him by her side, bravely piloting the American Political Drone (I wonder which of her many devices were used to reach her noble remote goals). But when he was called to action, POTUS immediately stepped into the role with rare perfection, calling upon the thirsty crowd: “Hil-la-ry! Hil-la-ry!”

She looked at him in adoration as he described her as the “most prepared, man or woman, ever, to run for President of the United States.” He went on to tell the cheering audience how she had sat so competently by his side in the situation room, as they watched American forces finally kill bin Laden. What a remarkable moment.

Less than a couple of hours before, the very same behavior had been described by our investigator-in-chief — in his words, “Hillary’s handling of very sensitive, highly classified information” — as “extremely careless.” Which version should we accept as fact? As a newcomer, who admires the U.S. as a nation based on the law — a stark contrast to the country I come from — I was disappointed, to say the least. Not to mention the “pursuit of happiness.” That’s when my hopes started to fade.

I haven’t truly understood the real implications and the seriousness of Hillary’s carelessness until someone on Fox News (okay, “right-wing” media) described how she’s now vulnerable to blackmailing and other violent actions by hackers who, let’s face it, may not love our country as much as we would like them to. I wonder if the general public actually gets that.

Meanwhile, not so far away, Donald Trump was holding a rally in response to the much-awaited F.B.I. event, which everyone, including my beloved husband, believed would present a different outcome. But somehow the Trump “magic” was now gone, sucked up by the dazzling charm of the competing political show no possible contempt could diminish. Although I could recognize some level of truth in what he was saying, it all registered as mere babbling. I even doubted if anyone in his audience was paying real attention.

My main reason for choosing Trump, I admit, is the way he tells simple truths second-class people like me can understand. That’s right, as an immigrant I feel like a second-class person most of the time, no matter how life is treating me. Although, of course, it could be worse: As an illegal immigrant, I would be third-, fourth-, fifth-class, living under the constant threat of deportation. Which, by the way, is far less common than I initially thought.

In fact, my second-class thoughts — now, on top of it all, tilting toward the right — have been consistently increasing the daily malaise I hope will go away someday. Provided I prove myself right at least once, preferably in a very serious matter like guessing the next President of the United States. The pressure in the opposite direction is so strong that even when “we” win, we lose, and we keep constantly reexamining ourselves — take Brexit, for example. It takes a lot of nerve to go against the imposingly convincing apparent good displayed by the left. Moreover, presented with such irresistible charm.

Frankly, Donald Trump may not be the opportunity we seek to make ourselves heard, even if the global-reaching ideas behind the so-called Obama’s legacy are quite frightening, and their palpable results truly dangerous.

People say there is a “world movement” against politics as usual, which would include electing non-politicians to occupy crucial positions. But when confronted with highly developed political skills, the naked truth becomes a tough choice to make. Notwithstanding the fact that the truth is elusive, not “self-evident,” much more so in such a complex status quo. It takes time and effort to deal with it, and we are much more inclined to go with the wave and let life take care of itself.

I’m not even mentioning another world tendency, highlighted this week on BBC News, this time favoring us women in high places — women like Angela Merkel, the potential British PM Theresa May, Hillary Clinton… but also the creepy Marine Le Pen and our very own nearly-impeached, unforgettably incompetent and destructive Dilma Roussef, who has recently brought Brazil down. Beware!

Oh my, what a treacherous sister am I, describing my own (stable) gender in such an unfavorable light.

Business as usual, my friends. Let’s see where all this prolonged pain will finally take us. If it’s any consolation, I keep reminding myself that, whatever the results of this election season, at least “there will be a few Jewish children in the White House.” That’s good.

About the Author
Noga Sklar was born in Tiberias, Israel, in 1952. She grew up in Belo Horizonte and lived for 30 years in Rio de Janeiro, a city she left behind to take refuge in a paradise among the mountains of Petropolis. Noga met her American husband Alan Sklar in 2004, through the American Jewish dating site JDate. This meeting gave new impetus to her life and literary career, inspiring her first novel, “No degrees of separation” (to be published in English in 2016. She now lives in Greenville, SC, US, where she moved with her husband in October 2014.
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