Letter From New York 08 16 2016 A nation of immigrants, in case we don’t remember…

It has been a grey and gloomy sort of day here in Claverack; at one point the skies opened and torrents of rain slashed down.  Mostly, I have curled into my cottage and put nose to grindstone on some volunteer work I am doing for the local community radio station, WGXC.  It serves Columbia and Greene Counties and is, I have discovered, always unique, always surprising.  It is the voice of this part of the Hudson Valley and I have gone in some months from not even knowing of it to realizing I can’t fathom not having its voice.

Over a hundred volunteers keep it afloat, programming by “civilians,” which cannot help being eclectic.  From health and wellness to Broadway tunes to vinyl cuts with programmers from 13 years old to 83 years old, you have quite a mix.

So I am working to help them out and, like a good Catholic, realizing I wasn’t as good over the summer as I should have been, I am working extra hard now.

For fifteen years, I have always been a member of Amtrak Select Plus, which gives me access to their lounges.  I am in serious jeopardy of losing it this year and am plotting how to make the points to keep it.  And then I think, I am not traveling as much as I was.  Should I even worry about this?  I probably will find a way.  The Acela Club in Penn Station is my “home away from home.”

So it is a Tuesday night.  I have made myself a martini and Beatrice, my rapidly growing banana plant, and I are in the dining room, looking over the creek, a scene of grey mixed with incredible green.  Classical music plays in the background, moving from the delightful to dirge like.

All this pitter patter about my life is a way of saying I have retreated from the news a bit.  These are the dog days of August; the fall is coming upon us.  It has been special here at the cottage this week and I have not wanted to disturb the week, the peace.  I have gathered friends for get togethers.  We have all avoided politics because we are worn out by the never ending campaign of 2016, which has been going on, it seems, since before I was born.

Rudy Giuliani, who was Mayor of New York, when 9/11 happened, said in a speech today that before Obama there were no attacks by terrorists on US soil.  He has claimed it was a mistake; he MEANT to say NOT another until Obama.  But it has come out badly for him.  Excuse me, he lived through it, with me.  I was there, listening to him tell us it was going to be devastating.  How do you screw up so much, you, Mr. Giuliani, who lived through it with me?

For several minutes, I liked you.  Now I don’t.  Especially after today.  The kind of speech making mistake today makes me wonder if you are holding the thread together, Rudy.

Trump is touting that if he loses the election, it will be because it is rigged.  I fear that if he does lose, which I sincerely hope he does, there will be violence in the streets because that is what he is setting his followers up for.  And they are not pleasant people, these Trump supporters.  They seem nasty, angry [not without reason, which Hillary should speak to] and prone to violence.

I receive emails from my brother-in-law, who is definitely not a Democrat.  They are a stultifying drone on how bad Obama is.  He has not been all I hoped he’d be but no President ever is and I do believe a hundred years from now, history will be far kinder to him than my brother-in-law.

He was the first man elected President who was not “white.”  And that has elicited furor from those who never thought that could happen.  I hope he is a bridge to the future because soon, the US will no longer be “white.”  It will be the mélange of immigrants of the 20th Century, the Hmong, the Vietnamese [who were vilified in places because they were so hard working], the Asians of all stripes who outstrip “Americans” who don’t want to work harder.

We are an immigrant nation.  Hopefully, we always will be.  I am a second generation American.  I was lucky in my life, being born here, getting the education I did.  I was lucky being born in America, the son of people who had been born here because their parents had come here.

Immigration is the story of the US.

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