Mary Grabar

We went to public schools in those same neighborhoods only to be accosted for our skin color and the presumed “privilege” that teachers said we had. Rather than teach us what was good and beautiful about Western Civilization and the country to which our parents had fled, teachers gave us Marxist nonsense, if they bothered to teach at all. Our schoolmates saw the evening news, mimicked their elders by wearing “Black Power” buttons and felt justified in roughing the white kid who didn’t seem tough. Because we were “privileged”—despite washing our fathers’ sooty work clothes while our mothers went off to clean offices and houses in the suburbs—we were not eligible for scholarships, not even to the Catholic schools. Teachers never cut us any slack. Guidance counselors told us to be secretaries or work in the factory, despite our volunteering and demonstration of academic abilities. Our brothers, cousins, and uncles went off to fight in Vietnam, while those from your class took up arms against their campus administrators.

True, we had our problems, as all people do, with such things as alcoholism and family violence, but we handled those ourselves, and never blamed “society” or a history of oppression. Still, many of us did carry legacies from the old country, of hunger and persecution, of watching family members and villagers murdered by atheistic regimes. So we were grateful for the opportunity to work and buy our own little patches of the American Dream.

We were happy to use a welding torch, shovel, or broom to get them. We didn’t insist that we should all get college degrees. We didn’t have our documents translated for us or get bilingual instruction. If we didn’t know English we made sure our children did and we relied on them.

Your white friends in San Francisco, Barack, probably had cleaning women like my mother (and me when I accompanied her and then had my own cleaning jobs from age 12). As white people from a certain class and with certain connections, your donors knew that their futures would be secure because of their inheritances and the connections they could make in the media, politics, and business. In fact, it would benefit them in the world of “radical chic” to hang around those like you and support your policies. (Great opportunity to be photographed next to a black person!)

Your black friends there, like your wife, see no end to the amount that this country owes them because of what happened to their ancestors. It makes no difference that many of the whites in previous generations also had experienced persecution and hunger and worked in dangerous, dirty, and degrading jobs. Or that blacks and Native Americans were among the slave owners.

In fact, you and those wealthy donors sneer at white people who have had to do manual labor and who have paid for tuition at community colleges with the money earned that way, while our classmates received special scholarships and government grants—from our taxes.

You sneer at those like us who put our faith in God and not in those like you who would presume to know what’s good for us and tell us what to do with our money and our children, and leave us with no ability to defend ourselves.

Well, Barack, coming from your Ivy League world, you would not know much about us. You would not have learned that because we come from people who, rather than letting their communist benefactors redistribute the food, burned the crops in their little fields before they were forcibly “collectivized.” In Slovenia, they fought Tito’s Partisans from the woods and held mass at night when the Communists banned church services. They remember what it’s like to be hungry, ill, and living in little more than huts, while Marshall Tito and his communist cronies lived in villas. Now you live in a Chicago mansion and sneer at those like us who simply want to keep and defend our little three-bedroom ranches. You don’t know what it’s like to have family members die for the right to attend mass.

I know your liberal cronies, Barack; they make me check off my skin color on job applications and ask me during job interviews of how I teach multiculturalism, yet don’t know where Slovenia is on the world map. They couldn’t care less about my culture, nor about Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, or Lithuanian culture. Your supporters often feel free to mock my Slovenian heritage in letters and comments on the Internet when they disagree with me. I guess it’s like being called a “dumb Polack”—something that has never gained quite the opprobrium of other ethnic epithets.

See, Barack, we know the system: Some are more “equal” than others.

And we know how you really feel about the “proletariat.” We know this from our experience either directly or as an inheritance from our parents and grandparents. And that is why we came to America.

Addendum: Many of my non-European correspondents, like those who came from Cuba, agree—as their letters to me indicate.


Mary Grabar

Mary Grabar earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia and teaches in Atlanta. She is organizing the Resistance to the Re-Education of America at www.DissidentProf.com. Her writing can be found at www.marygrabar.com.