I woke up thinking in Arabic. It happens when I spend more time than usual in conversation with my Iraqi relatives and other Levantine friends and acquaintances. Lately, I have spent a good amount of time doing that, in person and on the phone. In my head, I hear their voices, their accents and their common refrain:
“Thank God for Trump.”
“God had mercy on us.”
President-Elect Donald Trump’s name rings in my ears with the Moslawi Christian accent of my closest relatives, and I am conflicted. They are happy and hopeful about his election. It doesn’t matter if they don’t live in America; the Iraqi Christian diaspora are heartened. On the phone, a relative living in another country – one who hasn’t read anything I have written about Trump during the last few months – probed, “What do you think, Luma?”
During the elections, my talk of character and principle fell on deaf ears. These people had lived under Saddam Hussein. Saudi-friendly American foreign policy has driven them out of their homeland during the past two decades. They have left professional jobs, houses, friends and family. As asylum-seekers, they go wherever they are accepted; a single family can end up in four separate countries. They have been scattered to the winds. Who has the luxury of assessing a politician on his personal character when family, community and culture are devastated? They didn’t believe anything the media was saying about Trump, but they did believe at least the gist of what he was saying. They sought a strong protector and found him in their vision of Trump.
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