In Thursday’s class, we discussed the novel Netherlands by Joseph O’Neil. In Netherlands, Hans grew up playing both soccer and cricket. Although the novel focused mainly in cricket, I found it interesting how both of these sports are “hiding” in the shadow of an extremely popular American sport in the United States. (Baseball and Football) This also reminds me of a previous class in which we talked about the popularity of NASCAR in America while most of the world enjoys formula one racing and finds format of NASCAR uninteresting.
As we discussed in class, the experience of the cricket players in Netherlands mirror the experience of immigrants in America as both were push to the side and adopt a 2nd class status. The immigrants are getting overlooked in America and are not getting the respect that they deserve similar to cricket and soccer after failing to compete with what was already established in the country. In fact, cricket and soccer can be view as more of sports for immigrants than for Americans, as more than half of the U.S. national men’s soccer team are either immigrants, or children of immigrants. In Netherlands, although Hans was different from his fellow cricket teammates, as he was a six foot five, rich, white European, he still had to go through problems due to his immigrant status.
During Thursday’s class, we discussed the different aspects of Joseph O’Neill’s novel, Netherland. This novel mostly takes place in New York City after the devastating event that was and still is 9/11. September 11, 2001 was provably one of the worst events to happen not only in New York City, but in the United States and the world. That event derived out of pure hatred and terrorism, and was truly an event that no one can ever forget. To be honest, I do not remember 9/11 from my own memory since I was merely a 3 year old girl. However, my parents vividly remember that day. It is ingrained in their minds. They remember the sky being unmistakably blue and without a cloud in the sky. However, after the attacks, they felt lonely, confused, and scared. In Netherland, Hans feels a similar way. He is profoundly affected by the Twin Towers collapsing and finds himself dazed, merely floating above his world. He feels disconnected and lost. This feeling is extremely similar to how both New Yorkers and Americans felt during this sad and vulnerable time.
Looking back on a day that forever be in our hearts, one can not help but wonder what is in store for the future. Will something like this happen again? Will this country ever truly recover? With the new administration that this country is under, no one can entirely be sure. Our current president is entirely taboo of anything we have ever experienced before. However, it is up to us to decide how we want to mold our future. As New Yorkers, we have become more aware and more weary of our surroundings over the years. We have taken caution and note of whatever is in our path. However, the best way to combat our feats and losses is if we support this country in times of success and in times of sorrow. If we can do this, we will be unbreakable.
Today, one of the things we discussed was the American Dream. In the novel Netherland, the character Chuck is the archetype of this dream. He represents the optimism and patriotism in the American system. Nowadays there is a rising pessimism in the American Dream. Some are even proclaiming it to be dead.
Is the American Dream dead? Research has shown that on average 30-year-olds now are earning less than their parents. Also, the income gap is larger than ever before. In monetary terms, it seems like the American Dream is dying, but I don’t think that’s the whole story. I don’t believe that money is what the American Dream is about. The Constitution promises all Americans the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We have become so fixated as a society on equating money to happiness that we lost touch with what happiness truly means. Happiness can found no matter how much money you have. What made me realize this was speaking with my parents and grandparents who are all immigrants. They spoke of their struggles and persecution against them. America afforded them a life of comfort and rights they couldn’t have imagined. This is where they found happiness. As a native born American I think I can sometimes lose sight of this. We need to find what truly makes us happy and find meaning in our lives. America gives us the right to pursue this dream. This to me is what the American Dream truly is, and it seems to be alive and well but you just have to take advantage of it.
While discussing Netherland by Joseph O’Neill in class today, the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center were brought up. These attacks not only had a big impact on the events in this literary work, but they also greatly impacted American foreign policy and history. The thought of these attacks, and the possibility that they could happen again, frightens me immensely. They are not something that I think about every day, however when I read the newspaper to catch up on current events, my fears are reestablished. New York City appears to be an optimal place for a terrorist attack to occur since it is one of the most important and well-known cities in America. This makes our home more of a target than other cities in the United States are. In addition, our class also discussed other people’s experiences on 9/11. Unfortunately, most of my classmates, including myself, are too young to be able to remember the events of this day first-hand. However, I have often heard my friends and family members tell stories about this day. Each person is able to recall what he or she was doing when these attacks began. Many of them say that they had never seen people be as kind to one another as they were in the first few weeks after the tragedy. The 2017 Presidential Election is the only situation I have experienced that I can liken this to. Much like those who witnessed 9/11, I was shocked when I awoke to discover that Donald Trump was the 45th president of the United States. Baruch was eerily quiet that day. I even had some professors and peers who cried during class. For me, this was the most shocking event that I can remember living through. I am sure that I will never forget it.
Pursuing this thought further, another perplexing question that was raised in today’s class was whether the events of 9/11 spread so much panic that they would eventually cause the people of the United States to pick Donald Trump as their president, out of fear of immigrants. This theory makes sense since Trump repeatedly spews negative stereotypes about people of particular nationalities and maintains a loyal following despite these discriminatory remarks. At first it was difficult for me to understand where all of this hatred stemmed from. However, after listening to our class’s discussion, I have realized that perhaps this racism was perpetuated by the tragic events of 9/11. Fear of terrorism caused Americans to turn to the antithesis of tolerance, Donald Trump. However, it is important to remember that hate only breeds trepidation. We should embrace other cultures; we can’t live in fear of people’s differences forever.