Contributed by Jen Herz. Check out more of their posts from this summer here.
How would I define myself?
Female. White. American. Anyone could ascertain my belonging to these groups simply based on my appearance and speech. However, just because I am a constituent doesn’t mean I’m an absolute representative. I can’t speak on the opinions of all females, whites, or Americans because I am only one. Therefore, I don’t typify the entire group I simply represent a tiny fraction of the base. Then why am I continually put into a box as an American who is assaulted simply because of her nationality?
Compared to other countries of the world American history spans an infinitesimal portion of modern history. Nevertheless, our history is fraught with controversy and contention. Commonly known as the “world’s police officer” after World War Two the United States adopted a interventionist policy that has extended well into the 21st century. Some of the countries we’ve placed ground troops in include Vietnam, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan (just to name a few.) I’m nearly positive that if you asked any American about his or her opinion on ALL of United States interventions that he or she would not whole heartedly agree with every single one. Personally, for reasons that cannot be adequately explored in this post I vehemently disagreed with our involvement in Iraq, but find myself believing that an Afghani intervention was necessary.
How does this relate to the work I am doing here in Belgrade? Monday through Friday I work with refugees, mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, fleeing heart-breaking conditions in their home countries. Why did they leave? Poverty, violence, and war are all common answers. But what caused these circumstances? The answer is complex and most certainly not known. Could the wars the United States raged in the Middle East be a contributing factor? Of course, but it obviously isn’t the only answer. Other conditions include faltering economies and increasing Islamic extremism. Furthermore, when America made these interventionist decisions I was completely detached from US policymaking. I didn’t even have the power to vote until a year and a half ago. So stop telling me I am responsible for your countries downfall, to burn the white house, and kill the President of my beloved country. I am here to help, not to be criticized.