Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Why Hillary Won!

I know, I know, Election season is already coming to an end, and yet yesterday felt like Christmas: when do I ever get the chance to talk about politics and nobody is harassing me about "needing to shut up" and "not start again". Yesterday, we were supposed to talk about politics. All of us. What made it even more like Christmas was how the debate at Hofstra University went. Since this is a personal space, and I have long abandoned impartiality when it comes to the issue Trump vs Clinton, seeing Trump struggle was great. I wish only the best for him on a personal level, find him an interesting, news-worthy character, would love to meet him, but would never be okay with him winning the presidency. Yesterday, for the x time, he showed why: little substance, unprofessional handling of political situations and a whooole bunch of lies. Then again, who expected anything less?

I was in fact surprised DT did as bad as he did. Rationally, I thought he spent days preparing to actually wow us with something pretty much nobody expected: an informed and professional performance. I should have known that rationality is not his forte. With expectations for him as low as they were because, frankly, he has no business standing on that podium, he should have easily impressed. Then I heard his advisers releasing information half an hour before the debate that the D hadn't even conducted a mock debate. He had spent the afternoon with his children and wife in Trump Tower. I have an interview soon and I mock-debated the crap out of that. Why? Because I want the job! You would think running for president is something Donald Trump would consider preparing for. Minutes in it had become clear Trump should have done a test round...

The media, although correct in doing so, is evidently trying a new approach reporting on Trump. Wait, hear me out because this will definitely not be a "Hillary bought them" argument. It's like Trump said that the media was biased so often they actually stop calling out how ill-suited he is in fear of giving him some gunpowder (which he totally would do). The echo beforehand was largely that Hillary has had so much experience and Trump has had none that it was obvious she had a clear advantage. If that isn't a reason to vote for her in itself I don't know what is. Bad enough we have an amateur debater at the podium, never mind in the race. Right after the assessment continued, with even liberal outlets trying to find faults in Hillary's performance. I love that she was actually criticized, called out on the things she did do wrong and the discrepancies in her past decisions. Unfortunately, one cannot expect the same from the Trump camp.

In fact, he celebrated himself as the winner pretty much right after the debate. Retweeting assessments that saw him beating Hillary up to 80-20 (I know, in what world?) and claiming his mic was broken. On purpose, of course! One of his biggest trolls supporter, Rudy Giulliani, also claimed that host Lester Holt had been asking him too many difficult questions. Such an argument makes me cringe for humanity. For starters, they both received the same questions, which is what a debate literally is, and secondly, shouldn't a president even be able to tackle people out to get him? Lester Hold is a smart guy, I find it hard to believe he wasn't laughing inside throughout this ordeal, and yet Hold definitely didn't break away from an essential impartiality. When Trump repeatedly lied and contradicted himself, Holt merely asked him "why [his] judgment is any better than [Hillary's]?" Good question, Lester. Trump obviously couldn't answer.

Which brings me to my favorite theme: lying! How Hillary actually became the lying candidate is unfathomable to me. 30 years of political life means she definitely lied. I am aware she's not a truth-speaking robot. But is it really happening that one of the reasons she is losing votes is because of dishonesty while her opponent takes the stage in front of 100 million domestic viewers and fails a fact-checking contest MISERABLY? Facts are obviously a currency Trump voters are not really interested in trading with so it doesn't really matter that a TREMENDOUS amount of his statements in fact were untrue. All that seems to suffice to the Republican following is Trump shouting "wrong!" over Hillary saying the truth, and I guess in today's world that just makes her wrong. I like the truth, and so him claiming he had a personal fight with Sean Hannity that he opposed the war does not mean his 2002 public claims will disappear. And him claiming the USA to have "Third World" airports or China controlling North Korea is so ridiculously incorrect it's embarrassing. Really!

Then again, how would Donald Trump know all that. I mean, we definitely can't argue he has any sort of experience in office Hillary is lacking, although that case has certainly been made. We live in a world where a woman who has served for 30 years, knowing close to everything there is to be known about the position on offer, has to share a stage with a man who thought "I can do what a woman can do", without anything actually qualifying him to make that assumption. Hillary actually missed a lot of chances illustrating how uneven this playing field really is. There he was saying nuclear weapons are the biggest problem ever, five seconds later calling her out on making the Iranians abandon their nuclear ambitions. What? By the time he claimed she didn't have the stamina to be President he seemed desperate.

Of course, that's not what the Republicans saw. I have often, very often, asked myself if I am blinded by my political conviction. Am I maybe the ignorant one who just wants to see Hillary succeed? I had to conclude it's almost impossible because I don't actually need her to win. I'm not American and I don't even love Hillary. My endorsement comes from fighting her fight of being a woman in a not-yet-equal world and, well, political accuracy of statements. I supported Barrack in both elections he was in, but both Mitt and John McCain had my respect. I spent two hours chatting with my Trump-loving friend yesterday because I don't actually believe political views different from mine make people bad. And yet, the hashtag #Trumpwon trending this morning just means there are at least people out there who cannot look at this rationally. In what rational mind does a man who blatantly lied on stage in front of millions "win" a debate? Often politics come down to opinion, and that's cool, but there really can't be a contest on who won this round... 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Why I Want Nothing More Than To Go To Disneyland

Last night, it happened again. I was on a plane this time, sitting front row like I was the captain. I was wondering if, like so many times, I would soar over the skylines of some pretty incredible places, where you don't really know where to look first. And then, as we picked up speed and realized that the plane was finally taking off, I saw the plane would be flying right over the best skyline one can dream of: Disneyland. We were going so fast I was struggling not to get sick. Much like the other aspects of my life, I prefer to get somewhere fast, throwing up, than a slow but steadier approach. The shadows of Space Mountain were taking shape. And then I woke up because the mail arrived. Forced to return to reality rather quickly, I had yet again dreamed of approaching Disneyland but not reaching it. Now if you're me, there is no worse nightmare.

I've been to Disneyland five times. At the age of 9, I received a Cinderella VHS that, if watched past the movie, featured a ten minute Disneyland promo. Being 9, I was sold immediately. Three years I campaigned with my parents with all I had, but it took their separation to make me capitalize on the misfortune. My mom felt so bad we weren't able to go on holiday despite all the hassle at home that she decided to finally make my dream come true. The year after that, my dad felt he had missed out on seeing me that happy, so he took me, TOO! Since my dad died not too long after that, Disneyland is one of very few places I have memories associated with my dad. As if I needed any more reason to love it. The worst time I went was in 2005 when the people I was living with at the time chased me through Disney's California Adventure, told me I was too fat for a corndog and then forgot me there. It seems only natural I'd want to reminisce as well as make new memories.

In most of my many Disneyland dreams I am either in Disneyland, trying to navigate through paradise with a pretty masochistic time restraint, never making it to any attractions, or I'm on the way there and there's either a tornado, a traffic jam or my company screws things up for me. Very clearly, actually being in Disneyland is a treat my subconscious wants to save for my conscious. My subconscious is some actual d*** because there's nothing I'd rather dream than hanging out with my dead father or being in Disneyland carefree, and neither dream has ever been realized in my head. To actually be in Disneyland would be a dream come true, and I can't say all my other dreams are that easy to realize (trust me, I've tried every day for 15 years, I'll need another few years).

I dream of Disneyland at least once a month. Reasons, you ask? There's no place I'd rather go. To me going to Disneyland is much more than a fun day out. I would only go to Disneyland with amazing company. The thought of being in Disneyland with someone I like is literally my idea of heaven: walking around singing with Minnie Mouse, eating in scenic restaurants, riding roller coasters and buying the picture after. I'm not sure what that says about me as a person, but apparently I just really wanna be a kid for a few days. I was robbed of a few years of my childhood, and I love being an adult way too much to ever get tempted by real childhood, but having that much of a desire to be happily ever after in Disneyland is nothing short of childish, which is pretty uncharacteristic for me. Yet, that's quite frankly what my brain wants. And I agree with it.

In dreams, we often dream in symbols, and as much as I actually want to go to Disneyland and think there is no interpretation necessary, it does stand for something. The day I actually go to Disneyland will most likely be the happiest day of my life. Right now, without having achieved my professional quarter-life goals, I'd be hesitant to go. Being happy for a few days, then returning to not being what I'm supposed to be professionally, would be a waste. Never mind, that without my professional goals being en par I could never afford to go. So the day I go I will be celebrating being adult enough to justify going back to childhood for a few days.

Age 14 in Disneyland Paris
Most importantly, however, Disneyland is most likely going to be the place I fall in love. I have told every guy I ever dated I wanted to go there, and they each vowed to take me one day. Every. Single. One. Yet, I haven't been in ten years. Last time I was in Disneyland I was there with a guy I (ten years later) had a little romance with. He then had a girlfriend so it just sounds like a frigging waste right now. After receiving the promise to be taken to Disneyland by those numerous men, I actually vow to fall in love with the first guy to ever follow through. It's like I'd owe him that. There's nothing I want more than go to Disneyland, and there's nothing I'm less willing to do than falling in love, so it would only be fair.

Hence, dreaming of Disneyland and constantly being denied access doesn't seem surprising. I'm just not ready! It is, however, a rather easy dream come true, unlike the ones I have of winning various prizes, hosting my own debate TV show and having a library in my house (never mind owning a house). Transparent as I am, the key to my heart will most likely have the shape of a Disneyland entry ticket, and I have now disclosed that for the world to read. It's been over ten years since I last had the pleasure and I hope I don't have to wait another ten years. All I really need is my life to get a few more steps ahead towards my grown up goals, most specifically a career I feel content with and a decent partner, and my ticket is booked. Others save for world trips, all I want is a weekend getaway to Disneyland Paris. Send some positive thoughts my way... 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Do People Even Still Know What "Freedom" means?

I spent the last two years in Egypt, everyone knows that by now. Right now, I am pretty unpopular there because, unlike the majority of the foreign visitors, I didn't enter Egypt as or became a Putin-loving, America-hating pseudo-tolerant conspiracy theorist that believes that as a visitor in a different country I should forsake my own understandings. For a nation that is yearning for "freedom" but failed at getting it to disagree with me on what freedom actually entails makes total sense: Egyptians feel trapped in their own country, have no legitimate democratic power and, whether they realize it or not, are under constant threat of persecution for things any average European would consider a constraint on human rights. It is, as a European who cherishes the system I grew up in, sad to me I seem to have been born "freer" than an Egyptian, although this definition of course is subject to a biased, one-sided definition: mine!

Speaking of human rights, it's interesting to actually remember what that means because many seem to have forgotten. Our values grant every individual to own clothes, have enough to eat and access to a safe living situation. My patriotism does not stem from Germany or Europe being great at some sports or making good cars but from the reality I am from a society that celebrates these values. Despite our history, I am happy we have found a way to grant human beings some rights I find essential. Of course I only consider them essential because I was raised with them and taught to keep them dear. Other parts of the world are different and might not have the same execution of the rule of law or equality as my own state, however, they are not "worse" countries. Fact is though, that in my understanding the Charter of Human Rights is how I want every single person on this planet to be able to live. And I thought everyone agreed with me on that....

For Egyptians to disagree, as I said, is almost excusable. The majority of Egyptians I know are perpetually criticizing their tyrant and are eager for more freedom, yet have no cultural tolerance for any criticism, especially when it involves religion. The week after Charlie Hebdo I was appalled by how many times I heard someone say that a certain punishment, albeit not murder, was to be expected when someone ridicules the Prophet. Very clearly, President Sisi could give his people all kinds of freedoms tomorrow and they would probably still be offended by me telling them that their country is not free. Sadly for Egyptians, denying such a thing won't make it any less true. To them freedom means being able to wear what they want. They are allowed to do that. It means they can marry inter-racially and belong to whatever religion they might like. They are allowed to do that. If that is freedom, yes, Egyptians are free...

Funny we should speak about religions because not having one isn't that great in Egypt. Sure, we are waiting for government numbers about actual prosecution of atheists, and every half-witted person knows we won't ever get them. When you are faced with the census numbers that claim that among 90 million Egyptians less than 1000, or even 10,000 or 100,000 if it would say that, are atheist, you should realize that the government is not a fan. Not having the government be a fan of yours shouldn't matter in a free state; in Egypt it more often than not means you will encounter a few problems though, one of them potentially being jail. The same, of course, applies to homosexuals. We may want to remember that the UN Charter states freedom of expression as a human right. Hence, to claim Egyptians are free is ridiculous...

For two years I was pretty vocal about how much I cherish the freedom that comes with living in Europe. As an LGBT supporter, for starters, I could not accept Egyptian culture to be "better" than mine, although I'd say expressing any culture to be better than another is essentially wrong. My undeniable opinion, however, is and always has been than equality, at the very least, is a right worth fighting for. This applies to women as well. And there I was telling everyone in Egypt that in Europe, women, men, homosexuals and even felons are all the same human beings, with the same set of rights and the same value in society, at least on paper. Quickly the time had come where I no longer wanted to watch Egyptians demand more freedom, then not being willing to accept equality or secularism, so I left. And then, just before I knew it, I had to watch the French, historically most notable for "liberté et egalité", tell a woman to take off her burka at the beach. Ouch!

Here I was believing that it's actually still a privilege to live in a free society, and then the country that actually came up with the idea of equality in Europe openly expresses how this rule excludes Muslims. And women. Now, I do not consider Europe "not free" anymore because Muslim women are under threat of having a dress code imposed on them (although I won't tell anyone they're wrong if they perceive this as a first move in a downward spiral), but the sheer willingness of people to allow to have this basic detail, clothing, to be determined by no other than the person wearing it is a sheer shock. Fine, so the police thought burka ladies do not belong into "French values", but people actually agree. What part of "freedom of expression" did the burka clash with? I don't like burkas and frankly would love for nobody to wear them, yet for me to decide if someone does or not and continue to call myself a believer in freedom and equality simply can't coincide...

Last time I checked, French values were not a dress code; they were a set of values which allow people to be free. I couldn't care less if people feel threatened by burkas. Many also seem to believe there is an underlying threat that comes mainly from members of this religion, especially men. "Jail them before they can become terrorist", I hear all the time. I mean, cool idea, y'all, but I thought we were supporters of the rule of law. I thought we cannot impede on someone's life unless we have proof it harms another. Today, in the face of fear of terrorism which is irrational to say the very least, we have more and more people actively standing up for giving up these rights that some of our forefathers freaking died for. Sorry, but how am I not supposed to be scratching my head? I was unaware that there are people out there, celebrating our freedoms, exercising their right to vote and being respectable citizens who believe these rights are not for everyone.

Right now, there is way too much of a conversation around a religion. Since France's embarrassing beach incident, it is no longer just about religion; now it's about finding a definition to what French values really are: is it freedom or a bikini? Is it equality or a Baguette? The fact this question exists means we will have nationalist debates because of course we will soon have a laid-out definition by Marine LePen who will, let's face it, do really well next year. The days of defining French values as a belief in "fraternité" is on the back burner. Whoever is different is clearly no longer welcome to be called French, only that by now almost all French people are at least a little bit "different". All this sounds an awful lot like Hitler who, on top of being a megalomaniac mass murderer, started an exclusive idea of who is still entitled to this belief in rights. In the end, nobody still had any. But sure, trying to see how far we can push the border between "right-wing" and "xenophobia" this time sounds like a great idea.... NOT!