The reason why this blog post is titled the way it is, is because I am going to send copies of this post, slightly modified, to whichever US government officials I can get in touch with to protest the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, and the fallout it has created between the US and India. This incident has been highly damaging to my mental health for reasons I shall cite below, and I feel it is my right as a human being and American citizen to express the mental hurt the US government has caused me as a result of this incident. If you can, please share this far and wide. Even and especially as a white male American citizen, the actions of my government have tainted me as a human being and I will not let this be ignored by them.
EDIT: Preet Bharara's title has been corrected. He is NOT the US Attorney General, at least not according to a Google search.)
Dear US Attorney for Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, and other concerned US government officials,
My name is Phillip Miner, and I live in Rochester, NY. I was born and raised in this city, which has been at times called an "All-American City" by its own marketers, although the minor league hockey team Rochester, NY has, called the Rochester Americans, certainly helps with the nickname.
As much as I love my country and want to be part of it, though, it is important to note that I did not choose to be born here. It was by the will of the universe - I don't know if you want to call it God or not - that I was born in Rochester, in New York state, in the country of the United States of America, as a human male with a skin color commonly called "white." It is these identities that have been the source of much of my strife as of late, in no small part thanks to the actions of USA government officials who claim to represent me and commit injustices seemingly on my behalf.
The most recent of these injustices was the arrest and ill-treatment of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade. As a result of the actions surrounding her case, other people from around the world have associated me, because of the aforementioned human identities I was assigned, with the other grave injustices the US government has committed around the world. Whether or not the association is justified, it is still my reality.
It is my reality because of the fact that I am a white male American citizen, and it means whether I like it or not, I have a lot to answer for. As someone who benefits from white skin privilege in this country and beyond, I know it is my moral duty as a human being to dismantle this white privilege system that has oppressed others in whatever ways I can, because I benefit. I was born guilty of racism and inhumanity because of this fact. I also want to redeem myself and show the world that I do not want the benefits of white privilege, that I can rise above and beyond the racist system that some of my fellow countrymen have constructed for the benefit of people like me. A benefit I do not want, I must say again.
When international relations are soured through such negligence and wanton disregard for rights as the arrest and ill-treatment of Devyani Khobragade, it denies me the opportunity to make things right. It shatters any and all progress I've made of cleansing myself of the sins of the past. It reminds me that no personal progress I make towards becoming anti-racist and a moral human being matters, because there is always an authority that acts on my behalf, who represents me, whose actions always override anything I do.
I know the United States of America is a democracy, and therefore what the majority of people want and decide upon in elections is what commonly goes into effect as law. You might defend your decisions by saying "this is what the people want," and I should live with it. However, it is important to note that an important aspect of freedom - which you claim to uphold - is freedom of association, the freedom to interact with other people who one desires to.
Actions such as the arrest of the Indian diplomat deny me of this right. Even if the rest of my countrymen do not want cordial relations with India - and if you merely go by what is posted on Internet forums, they seemingly do not, although the Internet is rarely representative of reality - to act with wanton disregard for international relations denies me of the right to free association, because of the fact that it taints my image in the eyes of people from other countries.
I want to talk about patriotism for a moment. Patriotism has a very broad definition, and does not simply mean blind nationalism. It can also mean representing the best of one's country, to show that one's country can adapt - to not only be a sword when injustice elsewhere in the world is present, but also a shield to be a genuine protector of other people. This means that being cognizant and respectful of other nations' cultures, honor, and values, can be patriotic, because it shows one's home nation is tolerant, and therefore worthy of respect. Isn't this why the Peace Corps was originally founded decades back? To show that Americans are generally tolerant, peaceful, and willing to help other nations?
One of the fundamental freedoms Americans enjoy today is the opportunity to be patriotic in ways we, as citizens, want to express. And not just the nationalistic citizens, but ones who want to put forward a positive image of Americans as well. Incidents like the arrest of the Indian diplomat jeopardize that freedom.
I know a lot has happened since the initial incident and much has been written on it since then, but my points still stand. What the US government does in its relations with other nations personally affects the lives of those who live here. Therefore it is of vital importance that the US government do whatever it can to repair its relations with India and the rest of the world.
Otherwise, the United States of America becomes one's own personal Hell for people like me.