Let me begin by stating how disappointed I was to read in a recent New York Times article that you do not read books. I can only imagine how stressful the job (and it is a job, Mr. Trump–you work for us, the American people) in which you now find yourself must be on a daily basis, but I’ve always found reading to be a wonderful way to both relax and educate yourself on any number of topics. There are books out there on the U.S. government and world history and war, and there are instructional books on everything from how to knit a scarf to how to resist a fascist regime. I believe that books are powerful, reading is essential, and universal literacy should be a top priority in any country that claims to be “the greatest.”
To that end, I present to you an eye-opening graphic novel: Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, written and drawn by Sarah Glidden. I decided to send you two graphic novels (you’ll find my other gift to you in a enclosed in a separate package) because I find the combined use of written word and artwork sometimes even more powerful than even a book can be. And Rolling Blackouts, in particular, has many different facets that I think will be of great interest to you.
I won’t go into great detail, as I do hope you’ll take the time to at least skim the description on the back of the book, but Rolling Blackouts follows the author, Sarah, as she tags along with three friends–two journalists and one Iraq War veteran–into the Middle East, to better understand the area, the conflicts, the refugee situation, and what we as Americans can do to fix what we have broken.
The book–like the young men and women who took the journey it chronicles–seeks to humanize the people of Iraq and Syria, especially, to help Americans understand that these are not faceless evildoers or monsters in our closets. The people of these countries we have so long tormented are human beings with a long history and a rich culture; they are people with families and friends and jobs.
They are also people who have often been slapped with the tag of “refugee,” which has in recent weeks–thanks in large part to you, Mr. Trump–become a dirty word. I decided to send you Rolling Blackouts in the hopes that you would take heed of the lessons Sarah learns in her time in the Middle East. I want you to understand the crises facing refugees around the world and what it means when you decree that America should close its borders to people who are suffering and living in fear for their very lives. I want you to understand that we need a diplomat in the Oval Office far more than we need a warmonger. I want you to understand the strength and the optimism and the courage of the journalistic community, and the strict code of ethics to which each journalist adheres. I want you to understand that our men and women in uniform are as conflicted and complex as those who do not serve in the military, and that their thoughts are not always in line with yours. I want you to understand that it’s okay to be confused or afraid–and then I want you to finally understand that books can help answer some of those questions you have and assuage some of those fears.
I hope you (or someone on your staff) will take the time to open each of the packages you receive this week, to read the letters enclosed in each and perhaps even flip through the books, to better understand what we the people believe is important. Should you find yourself uninterested in reading any of the books or comics that reach you in coming days, please donate them to your favorite charity or a local D.C. library. There are plenty of Americans who will love to have what you so blithely scorn.
America is already great. Pick up a book sometime and maybe you’ll see that.
Did you send your book yet??