By Annabeth Leong
I'm on vacation at the moment, and I have to say I've been enjoying paying hardly any attention to the news. I thought about leaving it at that and telling you all that I was going to skip this fortnight's post, but I think I can muster a few quick comments (and apologies that I haven't really been keeping up reading posts—I will catch up when I get back!)
First, though I haven't been reading the news I'm still aware of politics, just in a different way. One thing I pay attention to at home is the state of refugees. I'm ashamed that the US has taken on so much anti-immigration rhetoric, and I'm ashamed that we're not welcoming more of the people who need refuge from war and oppression.
So I've been very interested over the past couple weeks to pay attention to the attitudes toward immigrants in other countries. I spent a little over a week in Germany, and I can read German with the help of a dictionary and the Internet, so I picked up a book that is a bestseller there: Ein Araber ind win Deutscher Müssen Reden (An Arab and a German Need to Talk), by Hamed Abdel-Samad and Hans Rath. It's a series of letters between a German writer and an Egyptian political scientist in which they discuss on the refugee crisis. I've translated a bit of it, and I'm surprised by how their conversation is both combative and productive. That's a type of discourse that seems largely absent from what I'm used to reading at home in the U.S.
After leaving Germany, I came to Copenhagen, where I am now. My Danish is considerably better than my German, and today I picked up Farvel, mit Syrien: Fortællinger om Krig og Flugt (Farewell, my Syria: Tales of War and Flight), by Sanne Gram Fadel. It's by a Danish journalist and follows the experiences of several Syrian refugees, covering the time before they leave their homes up to a time after they settle in Denmark. I haven't gotten to read it yet but I'm very hungry to know about how they will be portrayed by a Danish person.
I appreciate being able to read in languages besides English because that's one way to escape the perspectives that usually surround me. That said, it's not a utopia elsewhere. I know there has been a lot of tension in Denmark surrounding refugees, and, as I said, the German book seems to be partially about airing out built-up hostility.
So that's been my way of paying attention to politics recently.
Normally, though, I'll just say this. I was told for a while that I shouldn't be political on social media. Then I realized that my writing is political. It's absurd for me to keep my politics off social media. If you don't like my politics I can't imagine you'd like my writing. In general I am trying to be myself more. I know we are selling a product, but I'm also told that I need to be authentic. Currently, I'm trying to shift that balance toward speaking up a little more bravely.
Anyway, I look forward to conversing with all of you more when I get home!