Why I Fear Returning to the United States

I always think "it" may happen to me. When I saw Rodney Kind getting smashed to a bloody pulp, I thought it could happen to me. My fear, however, goes beyond such notorious incidents. In fact, the very thought of returning to the United States makes me almost succumb to paranoia.

It wasn't always like that. As a kid, I truly believed in the divine greatness of America. One of my favorite songs for several years was: "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue." Hell, for a long time I contemplated joining the army so I could spread freedom. People forget that after 9/11, many Americans revered W Bush. His approval rating was massively high, and it was not until the blunder that was Iraq that many Americans started losing faith in the greatness of our country. I felt deceived about the weapons of mass destruction that never materialized, outrage at torture in Abu Ghraib and in CIA black sites, and dismayed at the general incompetence of the government.

Unlike most of my liberal friends, however, my concerns for the future of the United States were not allayed by Barack Obama. My mistrust of America went deeper than just one man in the executive branch. I had lost faith in America's fourth estate.

I remember watching documentary after documentary in the 1990s and early 00s detailing the Saddam menace in Iraq. It's only in retrospect that I've learned that what the US media presented as a solid, clear-cut case was in fact anything but in the eyes of most of the world. And though the CEO of the executive branch has changed skin colors, the media remains as whitewashed as ever; the Murdochs of the world are still pulling the same strings.

It was with that lack of faith that I decided not to vote for Obama. That Obama was even being allowed airtime by corporate media outlets was enough to signal to me that he would continue many of his predecessor's policies. I knew there would be -- and there has rightfully been -- much needed change on the domestic front, but limited gay rights and a sub-par health insurance are not enough to blind me to Obama's foreign policy of drone executions, torture forgiveness, bailout of bankers, and general usurpation of the Constitution. None of Obama's CIA and Wall Street-subservient policies have surprised me. I knew when he was running for office that he had the "reformed" face the establishment needed. I knew before he got elected that the capacity of blacks for tyranny and subservience to corporate masters was just as well-developed as that of whites.

So, I lost faith in the fourth estate for supporting a corrupt executive and sanitizing his bloodthirst in the Middle East. Further, my faith in the police and the judicial system was eroded the more I read about private prisons. Correction Corp --- the very same corporation that just recently signed a deal with the same religious fundamentalists who brought us the W Bush caliphate -- circulated a memo requesting states keep their prisons at a certain capacity. State agreements with private interests in the freedom of men encourages draconian legislation that unfairly targets poor minorities. The United States has 5% of the world's population, but 25% of the world's prisoners. America's prison population surpasses that of China by 1 million, and there are 5 million Americans also on probation and parole. America incarcerates more people than any other country on earth.

In the US, I'd be more afraid of a cop planting drugs in the trunk of my car, than I'd be of walking around the South Bronx at 3am. I have lived in the South Bronx, and can relate to this issue personally. It was a fellow Dominican cop from the Bronx who quit the force, outraged at the fact that he was expected to maintain quotas instead of "serve and protect." Simply put, I feel safer around American criminals than American cops.

Finally, and most controversially, I feel that the government has not been fully forthwith concerning the events of September the 11th, 2001. The government spent more money investigating Monica Lewinsky than it did the murder of 3,000 of our fellow citizens. On top of spending less money on the 9/11 commission, the commissioners have complained of getting stonewalled. The commissioners themselves wrote a book detailing how they were, "set up to fail." The fact that more than a decade after the attacks, I still don't know the truth hits me with more symbolism than memories of the Berlin wall. The culture of guns and conspiracy itself is enough to scare me. I truly fear that some new truth or widely-circulated rumor could set about a catastrophic chain of events.

As catastrophic as the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, which highlighted how the poor are neglected and outcast.  But of course, better disaster response means entrusting the executive branch with near-dictatorial powers. Congress gave Bush the power to declare martial law; this years after his follies in Iraq. Though he lost those power the following year, his executive orders and future legislation basically guarantees that a future president, if not this current one, will gain control of the Nation Guard, and the power to deploy the military in the streets; hopefully not as bloody as when Lincoln did. The imperial presidency has never been so more encoded into law.

When a federal judge declared Obama's power to kill Americans without trial legal, she said she found herself in a veritable catch-22. And indeed, the American catch-22 extends beyond government. It sinks into the psyche of every American that wakes up and still believes himself to live in a free and dignified Homeland.