Literature and immigrants – Indonesia Expat

After being elected the 45th President of the United States in 2017, Donald Trump sparked further controversy by imposing a temporary travel ban on citizens of seven Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Trump’s stereotypical accusation of Islam and Muslims not only goes against very basic American values, but also removes America’s real power, which is immigrants.

While the political perspective views its ban on Muslims through a black-and-white lens, the literary perspective offers us a much deeper brainstorm, suggesting how the United States owes its greatness to immigrants.

Anyone who landed in, say, Seattle, Los Angles, or Seattle, USA, from abroad in the 1970s would certainly feel like they had landed in a real western country. Almost everyone at the airport was white, with the exception of travelers. But, if you landed at the same terminal in the 1980s, you quickly realized that the world, as reflected in the airport, had changed: the number of white people and people of color was more or less less equal.

Imagine the same person landing in the same place again in the mid-90s. He would be surprised and wonder whether or not he had landed in a western country. He or she would be struck by the fact that white people outnumbered colored people.

The world of the international airport has changed a lot, the world of literature too. After the deaths of great literary figures in Europe after World War II, such as Sartre and Albert Camus, and after the deaths of Fitzgerald and Hemingway in America, also after World War II, Western literature had become unlikely to achieve great -thing. Western literature needed fresh blood, new ideas and different people.

Long ago, before John F. Kennedy was determined to get involved in politics, he wrote Why England slept, pointing out that this country was in decline. Even though Kennedy was not talking about literature, English literature was actually stagnating. New blood then came, represented by Salman Rushdie and Hanif Kureishi from India, Kazuo Ishiguro from Japan, Timothy Mo from Hong Kong and VS Naipaul from Trinidad.

American literature, like Western literature in other countries, had reached its peak, so it was difficult to determine precisely who the great writer really was after Hemingway, with the possible exception of Saul Bellow and Toni Morrison, who again, according to James Atlas, was actually just a rhetorician. New blood was needed, and this blood also had to come from outside. Derek Walcott from the Caribbean region, Bathara Mukerjee from India, Amy Tan and Shawn Wong from China then entered the scene with new freshness.

That there is a close connection between the greatness of America and the contribution of immigrants to the country is inevitable. The vast success of immigrants in American literature augments and legitimizes its constant enormity. Trump’s notorious association with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and sexual assault would inject energy into some radical Muslims who believe that American values ​​are dying and pat.

Therefore, paying attention to literary values ​​when it comes to making one’s politics is imperative. Reading literature is good for raising readers’ level of understanding and preventing them from being stereotyped, unlike reading newspapers or magazines which are often linked to interest, pressure and stereotype. A study published in November 2015 by 416 laboratoriesa Toronto-based consulting firm, revealed that The New York Times portrays Islam/Muslim more negatively than alcohol, cancer and cocaine, among other terms of reference.

Reading literature encourages people to be more careful. Whenever readers read literary pieces, they found moral and aesthetic aspects in them. Despite their distinct emphasis on aspects, writers strive to balance their moral messages to cause no judgmental effects on readers and control their aesthetic characteristics so that their articles are not devoid of strong messages.

The literary work is capable of making people more dynamic due to its cathartic effect on the readers.

Those whose minds are shaken and whose hearts are touched after reading novels, short stories or poems are ready to change and accept a new truth rather than those who have been politically indoctrinated to blindly defend something.

American literary values ​​can give any American president the idea that being hostile towards the Muslim community goes against American values, ranging from idealistic republican to global misanthrope.

The author is a lecturer at the Faculty of Human Sciences of the University of Andalas.

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