I am happily a “faggot foreigner”
This morning an angry white man in a Toyota raged at me on 94W/90W. I don’t understand Chicago drivers using the shoulder to aggro-pass traffic during rush hour. This guy attempted to force me to move a little into the middle lane to permit him a chance to use the small shoulder to pass on the right. I wasn’t paying attention, and I have to admit that I wouldn’t have moved into the other lane anyway. My window was down, and I was zoned into the traffic and talk radio. The sour guy forced his way into the middle lane and next to me. He rolled down his window, swung his car close to mine, and screamed at me.
I ignored him the best I could, and it didn’t take too long for him to realize he couldn’t provoke me. You all know what angry white guys do when they’re ignored by other white men, right? He called me an ignorant faggot. But he added to the typical abuse. He yelled, “Go home, you ignorant, faggot foreigner!” He screamed it several times: “faggot, you faggot foreigner!” In the US, boys and men expect homophobia to enter discourse when confronting other, angry men. It’s the hallmark of frustrated masculinity. I guess, this “foreigner” modified by “faggot” is supposed to be some sort of amplified insult. It’s very weak tea and not at all scary, unlike the Rav4 he was using as a weapon.
I don’t get the “foreigner” tag. I do get I’ve only been back home for three weeks. During this short span, I’ve noticed in public space and discourse that I’m sensitive and acutely tuned-in to white people talking about others as foreign(er). I hear it everywhere I go. This isn’t a US problem, by the way. The haters in France received an almost legitimizing 20% in this week’s elections. The right wing in nations where the white majority is slowly but steadily eroding has become a safe place for the racist rhetoric in white political discourse. Conservative white discourse has largely embraced impotent, reactionary political rhetoric.
My safe driving, a decision to follow traffic until my desired exit without risking accident, becomes an opportunity for an angry reactionary to insult me as “one of them”. This them, between two assumed straight white men, used to be homosexuals. Is it becoming simply to be other? After all, the other is a fluid category for those who cannot or who refuse to assimilate to the demands of white men and their business. (And it’s not really ironic, certainly not humorous, that conservative white men love to violently eroticize their slurs betraying their tea room and down-low behavior that is more often being discovered as surveilance provides more clues to what many of these men forcibly repress within reactionary and regressive white masculinity.)
Praise and I have noticed how diverse the US is. Korea is many things, but not diverse. But I still benefited from unearned privilege in Korea. In Korea, privileged foreigners are left alone as long as their labor is valuable and can leave when it no longer is valued (unlike the many oppressed foreigners who are brought to Korea to work in poor conditions and for little pay.) Korea might be the most vigorously-opposed-to-diversity place I’ve visited. The US is diverse. Upon returning, it’s impossible not see it. On the other hand, it’s also impossible to ignore the passive and aggressive inequalities that are insisted upon in public discourse and behavior by a frightened and frustrated, dwindling and conservative, white majority that enjoys illustrating itself as democratic and liberal, if not wholeheartedly progressive.
I will gladly remain a faggot foreigner if this is the case, thank you.