She\’s coming to America Can you imagine your first language is Arabic, you are a lawyer, your country is fighting a civil war, you get stopped at a check-point by military guards in your own country, they take you to a place where they beat you, spit alcohol in your eyes, stick the barrel of a loaded weapon in your anus, 10 or more rape you one after another, they pee on you, they poop on you, they say fuck you and your family and they tell you that you are going to die there in the condition you are in, and you witness this same kind of treatment to other female captives who are much younger than you, then the prisoners help get your hand and feet untied and help you escape thinking you can get help for them. You are bloody, stinking and naked, running down the street screaming your head off. People come out of their houses and see you and, they take you in and clean you up and put clothes on you, and you are afraid to go to the police because after all you have just escaped from government soldiers who have the power and authority to shoot you dead in your tracks and in your country woman kind ever find a husband if they ever admit being raped by someone other than their husband, so the people put your clothed but bruised and battered body in a taxi and pay for it to take you to a hotel where they believe somebody can help you and the other prisoners still in the compound, you get there and lie about who you are so you can get past security who are all armed, you begin to tell what happened and you are begging and pleading for help for the other ones that are still in that compound but before you can say another word, security people shut you down and throw something over your head and forcibly drag you away kicking and screaming, they drive you around the city, they tell you that you are going on local news and to change your story, to say somebody else did this to you, they call you a hoar, a prostitute, a liar, a drunk, and mental case on national TV, they put you in jail, then they take you to a hospital for a doctor of their choosing who is on their payroll to look at your genitals and your anus and sure enough they finally concede you were raped, so they let you out of jail and put you under house arrest in a city that is being bombed probably hoping you will die in a bombing raid, so you try to make it to the border but when you try to make it across, they take away your passport, beat you up again and take you back to the city that is being bombed, then you try to make it to the border again, this time with defecting soldiers from the same regime that did this to you in the first place but it is a chance you have to take because you are going to die where you are if you don’t, you make it across the border this time but you don’t have any passport anymore so now you are a refugee, then you get to another country and you get a temporary visa, people give you gifts and support like cell phone, computer, money for your journey and you start to board a plane to start new someplace else but government officials throw you off the plane, beat you and your parents up giving you a black eye and bruises all over your body again and they put you on a military plane headed straight for the country you just escaped from and you have no idea what is waiting for you when you step off the plane. Then somehow, some way, they allow you and your father to get on another plane to leave and now you are headed for the United States. You haven’t had any medical or mental health treatment at all. You don’t know if you have sexually transmitted diseases or if you are pregnant. You don’t know from minute to the next if you are going to live or die. Now your family is dragged into your misfortune. You don’t know what became of the people you tried to get help for. You don’t know what became of the people that got you to the Rixos hotel. You don’t know what happened to the people that showed you kindness and helped you escape. But imagine, you are headed for the United States, a place you have never been in your life, and all you have are the clothes on your back, and a prayer, and maybe just a little bit of hope. Imagine you ask someone to translate what the pilot just said and they say we have just entered United States air space. Imagine you feel the tension in the plane suddenly relax but you don’t know why. Imagine you step off the plane not knowing what is going to happen to you next and the first thing you see is armed soldiers and you are probably thinking here we go again, and you are sore afraid because you have trusted and trusted and all you have gotten is more pain in exchange for your trust. But you step off the plane and follow everybody else. You go through customs but no-one beats you up or tortures you. Then they say your papers are in order, “Welcome to the United States” and you walk through, one step after another, you want to look back but you can’t because you are too afraid, you walk through the airport, you go outside, you are still trying to breath and then you notice there are no more armed soldiers, there are no bombs, there are no government minders, just people trying to get from one place to another. You have no idea what is in store for you but you have heard people say but never could quite wrap your mind around the idea that America is the land of opportunity where anyone can be anything they want to be and all you really want at this point is the opportunity to be a human being, to have health, to breath the air, to be yourself and for the first time since March of this year you actually have some hope that you can. Eman al-Obeidi’s is not an American, she is not a naturalized citizen, she is seeking asylum from governmental persecution in her homeland. Her story doesn’t get any more American than this and it makes me proud that the US is still the same beacon of hope it always has been. No-where else but in America could this story even be possible.
Can you imagine?