This morning I woke up to my second Fourth of July in Nablus. Last night I’d jerked awake to the sound of dogs barking and a smattering of sharp sounds. I recalled, tense in my bed, the first night I slept in Nablus last year to wake up to dogs barking, gunfire, and sound grenades. Fajr came on just as the racket stopped and lulled me back to sleep.
So this morning I thought a lot about my last time here and how my feelings changed about America since I last posted on the Fourth of July. I knew going back to America would be hard when I boarded the plane last time, but I hadn’t any idea how difficult it would actually be. I felt a lot less shy about airing my feelings and opinions in public and the response was sharp and dismissive in return. I stopped being able to stomach a lot of the activities and social events I used to enjoy and the response was a lot more loneliness and isolation. My first outing back, people would drunkenly ask me how Pakistan was, or wasn’t I in Germany or something? What’s a Palestinian? Going out and seeing my fellow citizens get in on in the clubs instilled great feelings of loathing and pain in me as I could still see the kids in the villages and the damaged buildings, the sallowness of a corpse’s face when I closed my eyes.
I watched when Nablus came under direct attack in December of 2009 and two men were murdered in their beds. The television showed the streets I’d walked every day in Nablus with tanks and kids and stones. “I’d hate to be there, those terrorists would chop my head right off!” a woman said next to me. American taxpayer commentary. Your ignorance and racism paid for those tanks, those bullets, that wall, those bodies. It keeps the wheels turning.
I don’t want to make it seem like nobody cared or listened to me when I got home, but a lot of people I expected to didn’t. Not my problem, not your problem, so let’s get over it. Get back to whatever. And now even as millions of gallons of oil stains my backyard a dead black people still don’t care. A nation of sleeping fat babies. I only wish that our high-flautin ideals we brag about on t-shirts – freedom, liberty, self-determination, independence – were still ideals we were willing to fight and die for. I took them so seriously as a child, sitting at my grandpa’s knee and listening to him explain the great responsibility of being an American. Now, at 25, I get the feeling I wasn’t supposed to take it all so seriously. Perhaps for the majority it’s easier to just accept living life one day at a time instead of focusing on all the evil done in our name. Maybe it’s too much to bear. Maybe we just don’t know. I’d like to dedicate the rest of my life to trying to inform others, but it’s hard when people seem so disinterested in listening.
I’m not afraid to say I don’t feel any sense of celebration on the Fourth of July anymore. When I think about what this nation was founded upon and what it eats for dinner and how it makes a living, I feel sick to my stomach. Today’s the day everyone wants to hear it the least, but it’s also the day I feel it’s most important to reaffirm my position and my ideals. I’d like to assert I feel the same way everyone should about things like liberty and freedom and justice, I just don’t feel like being an American and celebrating America’s continued existence (234 years of the same old game) represents those anymore.