I’ve visited 15 American states; mostly in the west but a smattering on the east coast as well and around the Great Lakes. I love New York and Boston, Seattle and San Francisco, Denver and Santa Fe. I’d like to visit New Orleans or return to the deserts and mountains of New Mexico, Utah and California.
But I probably won’t.
America troubles me – not all of America and certainly not all Americans. As the saying goes, some of my best friends are American. But there is a central core of America that troubles me – that core who see carrying weapons openly in public as anything other than bullying, those Americans who are happily racist, homophobic or misogynistic (though their heads explode when you call them out on it), Americans who believe that wealth signifies virtue.
What to do? I’ve boycotted products from countries that offended me. For two decades – especially after Tiananmen Square – I wouldn’t buy anything from China. I fought apartheid by avoiding products from South Africa. I even boycotted American grapes in support of farm workers in California.
So I’m considering boycotting America. I’m not sure if I can avoid all American products. They are Canada’s largest trading partner and a lot of American-made parts go into things made in Canada. But I can avoid travelling to the United States. I can refuse to spend my tourist dollars there.
Will it make a difference? I doubt it. I expect the very people I’m protesting will say – stay home you snotty nosed liberal. We don’t need your dollars. Oddly enough, America does need the dollars of foreigners to run their own economy – to create jobs at home – but those types of Americans still believe in trickle-down economics when even the IMF and the WTO say it’s a failed strategy. Rich people and their sycophantic supporters aren’t all that good at actual economics.
I suppose the logical step would be to refuse to sell my books in the USA. Exactly the opposite. I’d like to not only keep my money at home – I’d like to bring their money here.
This all probably sounds a little extreme – and it’s meant to be.
My point is that people have to realize that consequences have actions. It’s like those stores that refuse to serve Muslims or gays. They may initially do okay – as right wing crazies send in orders from all over America – but in the long run, a business that refuses to serve a sizeable percentage of their community (including progressives like me who will spend elsewhere) will fail.
There is much about America to admire. The progress they have made – and which people like Trump and Cruz want to roll back – is miraculous. Most Americans believe in caring for their neighbours and believe in playing an important role in maintaining a prosperous and progressive world. They even believe in reasonable gun control. American values of equality, liberty and democracy are exemplars that the world can learn from.
Which is why it is doubly disappointing to watch some Americans refuse to defend those values – who prefer isolation, fear, hatred and guns in every hand. Maybe America needs to boycott itself.
And that’s ten minutes