This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land

hefbase_ballflagIs there anything as American as a farm league baseball game? It is old-timey nostalgia wrapped up in a ballpark frank. Organ music and popcorn, pop flies and strike-outs.

Last week we climbed to our seats behind the third base line. Half British, raised in Europe, my sons have grown up on football (read: soccer). This was their very first experience in the stands of America’s past time.

We sat in hard, blue seats and drank plastic cups full of beer and explained the rules to our sons. The little one sat with a mitt borrowed from a friend in case a foul ball made it high into the stands. The announcer asked fans to remove their hats, a catch-all sign of respect I remember from my school girl days. The Star-Spangled Banner was warbled, hands were pressed firmly over red, white and blue hearts and then it was “Play Ball!” I swallowed the small lump that had formed in my throat.

I imagine the scene that played out in front of me is what a lot of angry folks envision when they scream about making America great again. Family and hot dogs and the good, clean thwack of ball and bat. Peanuts and cracker-jacks, I don’t care if I never get back. Root, root, root for the home team.

On that night the home team consisted of  Cruz, Diaz, Menendez, Garcia, Ramirez, and Rodriguez, Castillo and Ramos.

Hmm….those names sure sound different from the ones which signed on the dotted line–different in ethnicity and culture from Hancock and Adams and Franklin–names which our founding fathers may not have anticipated but who are here nonetheless, part and parcel of these fruited plains. They are here, playing that most American of games, being cheered on by some of the very people screaming for their removal from sea to shining sea.

Those immigrants so many people are pissed off at, blaming for everything from the economy to terror? Some of them are on that diamond, representing the very thing they’re harkening to get back too with one breath while they scream at them to get the hell out with another.

womensbaseball_45rockford

Is it ok then if the sons and daughters of immigrants are scoring goals for the teams we support, batting runs in and catching pop flies? I’ve seen the same phenomenon hold true in the beautiful game (yes, soccer) as well. The most famous Swedish footballer of the moment is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, son of a Serbian Muslim and a Croatian Catholic and thoroughly Swedish. How many black footballers play for England or Wales who are the descendants of West Indian immigrants to England’s green and pleasant lands?

Somehow we are able to overlook the issue of immigration when the immigrant is striking out batters or scoring goals. But whether they are sports stars or the doctors diagnosing your cancer or the carers who look after your aged granny or the ones who ring up your groceries they all have something in common. They are not included in the versions of America or Britain that folks are clamoring, and voting, to get back to.

Gone are the days when American meant white people root, root, rooting for the whiter than bleached out White Sox. Gone are the days when British meant white, pasty, bowler hatted gents. Gone are the days when Swedish meant blonde and Dutch tall and clog-shod. Gone are the days when an entire country went to war on the principle of a master race of blonde, blue-eyed boys.

Thank God, right?

As I sat and watched balls cracked into the outfield and slides into home plate, I was once again reminded that Great America has always been large enough to encompass peanuts, cracker-jacks and some different sounding last names. This land is your land, this land is my land and from California to the New York Islands, it is big enough and expansive enough to absorb variety and differences.

NegroLeague1Maybe a son or daughter of immigration is hitting that home run out of the park. Maybe he’s selling the Crackerjacks you’re eating. How do you know who is going to be the next no-hitter Ramirez or hat-trick Ibrahimović? The fact is, they are a part of America, a part of an inclusive Europe. Part of what makes it great.

At the end of the day, the baseball players on the field are more American than my own kids, who are growing up as immigrants in another country. Kids who we thought would be part of the new global order, at home in the world at large rather than an isolationist one.

Maybe the entire world needs to take a seventh inning stretch and think a little harder about what they’re trying to recreate before they strike out permanently or lose it all in a penalty shoot-out with stakes higher than any of us should have to imagine.

 

 

 

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18 thoughts on “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land

  1. Rup July 2, 2016 / 8:35 pm

    The double standards are played out on many levels. I noted with interest of how you refer to the boys as immigrants in another land. Generally, British (white) people abroad (and probably many other ‘Westerners’ too) never consider themselves as immigrants. Always ex pats.

    And, I’m also not immune to it. I rail against when my colleagues refer to me as an immigrant, albeit jokingly. Somehow the word itself has become misused.

    PS. Another great post by the way.

    Like

    • Dina Honour July 2, 2016 / 10:12 pm

      Thanks and that was a conscious decision–because that’s the next hurdle: expat privilege. I think many Americans and Brits don’t think the word applies to them, even when it clearly does. The average Westerner of a certain…err..socio-economical-educational bracket assumes they are sought after, that the world needs them but they don’t need the world. I really did think all of this the other night at a baseball game and then was struck by the Ashley Williams goal in the Wales game the other night. Clearly, although British in every sense, he is not what people are referring to when they ‘want their country back’.

      Like

  2. chandlerbaseball July 2, 2016 / 10:03 pm

    Thx Dina – made me tear up big time 🙂

    Happy 4th!

    Lori Enders
    Foreign Service Office Manager
    (headed to Kyiv in August – finally out of Ah-free-kah!!!)

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

    • Dina Honour July 2, 2016 / 10:12 pm

      Happy 4th to you as well (and good luck with your Out of Africa moment ;-). )

      Like

  3. doublewhirler July 2, 2016 / 10:53 pm

    Welcome home, Dina!

    I think the same thing when I read down the list of names on apartment building buzzers or mailboxes here in the city. I love your analogy of a seventh inning stretch. I think we all need a little time out (with certain politicians and candidates spending some time on the “naughty step”).

    My 15-year-old niece is coming from the UK for her first ever solo visit to NYC next week and I’m so curious to see what strikes her about about our little melting pot (Big Apple fondue perhaps?).

    Along the multi-cultural lines, while I’ve been contemplating dining experiences for her visit, it has occurred to me that while I can food from Ethiopia to Peru, from Australia to Korea, there are no Scottish restaurants. Except McDonald’s of course…. 🙂

    xx

    Like

    • Dina Honour July 8, 2016 / 7:43 pm

      Having spent a day or two in the city, I have more to say. But while we were there, there was a two page spread in the NY Times dedicated to the immigrants who have changed our lives and I was reminded, yet again, why I love NYC so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Cherry July 3, 2016 / 10:32 am

    It is interesting how the word “expat” seems to be seen attached with privilege. Some odd twenty years ago when we were posted to South America, the locals looked at us sceptically when we said we were expats as they (still) attached to the meaning that we were kicked out of our own country and now had to rely on their mercy to stay at their home land.

    Baseball is too complicated and sophisficated, put everyone down to play rugby – let their energy runs there, a few pushes over, a few scrum – I am sure the British near you can help with the rules.

    Welcome back, you have been missed.

    Like

    • Dina Honour July 8, 2016 / 7:45 pm

      Funny how I think of the simplicity of baseball (as opposed to the 5, 402 rules of cricket…). I guess in a way we are all relying on the mercy of the local population–it just so happens that certain folks are allowed more mercy than others.

      Like

  5. pinklightsabre July 3, 2016 / 4:25 pm

    My wife Dawn pointed out an irony about the fact it seems Germany is the force trying to keep the EU together, the same force that kind of forced its creation, and how England seemed to pride itself as surviving all that, and now turning away from the union, and the hate crimes, largely racist…bizarre.

    Like

    • Dina Honour July 8, 2016 / 7:47 pm

      The role of Germany in the EU is a fascinating one, and now without the UK to balance the political powerhouse of the Germans, it will become even more so, which, ironically, could end up leading to the very thing the EU was created to prevent. The whole thing is a nightmare, and one largely fueled by hubris. Only time will tell–all I know is that in one night my dual citizen children lost 27 potential ‘home’ countries.

      Liked by 1 person

      • pinklightsabre July 8, 2016 / 9:43 pm

        My wife intimated about the same. And our German friend Benny, who took the dim view that we’re too long now without conflict, its unfortunate, natural, economic cyclic pattern. But that aside, you enjoy the remains of your time in the States, our abundance. Smiley face Dina…….

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  6. South of the Strait July 4, 2016 / 4:56 am

    Great post. It’s odd to be sitting in Copenhagen reading it. The US military is also another American institution filled with sons and daughters of immigrants. So, if Trump is going to make America great again I guess he’ll be bringing back the draft.

    Like

    • Dina Honour July 8, 2016 / 7:48 pm

      Great point. But then, they’ll be so busy building a wall they won’t be able to protect us from anything anyway.

      Like

  7. John July 21, 2016 / 3:25 pm

    Now now, baseball players aren’t sucking off the system like all those other lazy no-gooders. You know the ones I mean, those who work 12 hours a day in the blinding sun picking grapes so some vineyard can produce a $40 bottle of Chardonnay; those who start their day at 11:00 p.m. cleaning the offices of the corporate gods and their messy minions; those who gather on the street corner every morning hoping to get picked for one lousy day of manual labor. No siree, baseball players aren’t like that. Baseball players have real American jobs. We know they are real American jobs because other real Americans would love to have them. Real Americans don’t pick fruit, do janitorial work, or gather on street corners. Der.

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  8. Dina Honour July 5, 2017 / 6:18 pm

    Reblogged this on Wine and Cheese (Doodles) and commented:

    Maybe the entire world needs to take a seventh inning stretch and think a little harder about what they’re trying to recreate before they strike out permanently or lose it all in a penalty shoot-out with stakes higher than any of us should have to imagine.

    Like

    • Dina Honour July 5, 2017 / 9:48 pm

      Thank you. I wrote this one last year, but I think it is just as true this year, if not more so.

      Liked by 1 person

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