Dear World, We’re Sorry. Sincerely, America.

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This is long overdue. And it hurts. A lot. I first realized this when I was traveling overseas in December, and someone commented to me that as an American, I need to apologize for our president. My immediate reaction was defensive and angry. But, after reflecting for some time, I have come to realize that this person is right. We elected Donald Trump to the presidency, and he represents the American people on the world stage. It doesn’t matter if you disagree with him – Trump is one of us, and it is our responsibility to own that. So, on behalf of the majority of the American public, I apologize to the world for the words and actions of our president.

The most recent event that prompted my sudden apology is Donald Trump’s bigoted use of “shithole” to refer to several African countries, Haiti, and El Salvador. Some in Trump’s base cheered these comments, as signs of a president who speaks his mind without concern for political correctness. The problem is, however, that these damaging words have consequences. Americans have been the beneficiaries of a world order created by the US after World War II. This president’s rhetoric and actions have put this world order at risk. Leaving the Paris Climate Accord, attacking our NATO allies, fueling tensions on the Korean peninsula, striking down free-trade agreements, and changing decades-old policy on Israel are all examples of Donald Trump undermining the very systems that our government put in place to ensure peace and stability in an interconnected modern world. He has isolated our country from the rest of the world by taking these positions.

Calling other countries “shitholes” adds another area where the US stands alone – promoting racism and hatred in a country that has been strengthened for centuries by our diversity. The US has an unfortunate history of racism towards immigrant populations, whether that be the Irish, the Chinese, or now, Central Americans. Recent presidents have made efforts to reverse these negative points in our history, with words and actions that promote diverse communities. I am an immigrant, and I am a staunch believer that immigration is the core strength of our country (comment or talk to me and I will be happy to communicate the facts on why this is). However, I can understand policies that seek to curb illegal immigration. Donald Trump, however, has no policy. He only has racist rhetoric.

This brings me to my next point. Following the “shithole” comment, I have seen my Facebook feed flooded with news on how journalists are now calling Donald Trump unequivocally racist. But, why is it a surprise to the media that Trump is racist? We have known this all along. Maybe it is because Donald Trump received $5 billion in free media publicity over the 2016 campaign. It is ironic that this is the same media Trump claims to be at war with and the same media that claims to be calling out Trump on his wrongdoings. The reality is that both sides need each other: Trump uses the media’s comments against him to fuel his base and his claims of “fake news,” while the media relies on Trump to fill the airwaves every day with profit-making news.

This isn’t to say that I think the media is all “fake news.” Indeed, a free and independent press is integral to a functioning democracy. Print media, in particular, has raised the bar of journalistic excellence in covering this president. All I’m saying is that we have all known since the beginning of his campaign that Trump is a racist. This is not new news, and it does not need to be treated as such. Please call out Trump on his bigotry, but don’t pat yourself on the back for suddenly deciding he is racist.

To the rest of the world I say this: We’re sorry, but don’t lose faith in the United States. We are not perfect; we have several flaws. Many are saying we now have one flaw too many with our new president, suggesting that China may surpass the US as world leader. However, the world has seen time and time again that dictatorships do not work. For China to become the world superpower it seeks to be, Beijing will first need to complement its military might and economic dominance with democratic ideals – ideals which the United States, however imperfect, has championed for the past 73 years.  

In a conversation I had with Bill Isaac, former chair of the FDIC, he reminded me that America has overcome more than this before, and everytime we have experienced a period of nativism and oppression, the country has risen up stronger. As we have in the past, this country will persevere through Donald Trump’s presidency of racism and bigotry and emerge out of it stronger. Through these few years, the American people remain steadfast supports of a free and open world, of the democratic process, and of liberty and justice for all. This country will forever lead by example through government for the people, by the people, and of the people.

We will be back.

Featured Image: https://qz.com/1178678/trumps-shithole-comments-described-in-full-by-senator-dick-durbin/

About the author

Rick Sarkar is a boarding student from Winchester, MA and a member of the St. Mark’s class of 2019. He enjoys writing and is a layout editor for The St. Marker (the school newspaper) as well as a part of the St. Mark’s panel of The Tavern, an interscholastic thoughts-paper. Rick is also a founder and head of the Young Independent’s Club. He loves to run and is a part of the cross country and JV hockey teams at St. Mark’s. He plays trombone and is a member of the jazz band. Rick is passionate about learning and has an interest in government, public policy, and economics. He is optimistic about the future and looks forward to working tirelessly to make the most of his time at St. Mark’s.

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