I was in the bookstore in Jomtien, Thailand where I now live. The title of this paperback, "Why I Left America", jumped off the shelf at me as it was against the American Flag. The author had a commendation from the "Bangkok Post" so I took the chance to buy the book.
I had to force my way through it. First of all, you cannot buy this book in America as it is only available in Thailand. The book was sealed in plastic so you could not read an introduction before purchase- or I would not have bothered. I finally made myself read it the way I made myself read William F. Buckley so that I could have an idea of what was going on in the minds of Angry White Men.
The author, John Arnone, had been in several businesses in America and had a long list of things he found wrong with Women, Minority, and Gay issues. I was expecting a book about the positive wonderful things he had discovered after living in Thailand for twelve years as he had said on the outer jacket. Instead I got to hear a list that was about thirty years long condemning his right to smoke wherever he would like, the role of women outside of the home, government regulations, his desire not to associate with minorities in the main, and on and on.
He is the type of person who would consider a good relationship with a nonwhite person to be someone who did not invade his space. Television programs that portray White men as dummies are high on his complaint list as well as the necessity men have of joining sports groups so they have somewhere to hang out where women do not treat them as though they are stupid for breathing.
Then, from nowhere, he talks about the power of "women's lib and homosexuals."
"Oh yeah, aren't we powerful!" I immediately thought. Where does this guy get his stereotypes... I mean "ideas"? The entire book was a collection of his experiences in the magazine publishing business before losing his job due to "sexual harassment." Floundering, and going through his first divorce, he ends up in the adult video business. He made adult videos. Soooo, he finds pornography an acceptable means of making money (and he made a lot) but Minority, Women's and Gay issues are ruining his American life.
In the last twenty-five pages (of one hundred and seventy-five), he finally got into the positive aspects of Thailand that I could relate to. He has remarried (a woman 30 years younger than he) and has had three children with her in the twelve years he has lived in here. He frankly admits that he is sure his wife married him for security and not love, but she treats him with "the respect an American woman is incapable of giving a white man."
What struck me square in the eyes was that his experience was the experience I grew up knowing. There was a lot of hard work, mom was at home in my case, we were supervised, my father worked two jobs.
But how did we come out so differently? This is the only time in my life when I saw a direct email to an author in a book and I had to contact him.
I knew there was not going to be any way of getting past his preconceived views of women and I was not going to try. That would have been a hill I could not have tried to scale- but I told him about my life, my partner, his mother and the extended family. I also made the point that the only dishonest people I had ever dealt with were white people in the business world... let's call them weasels!
He emailed me back that he had not really thought about how his book would be perceived by homosexuals, he just did not like anyone "getting in his face." He defended his comments as "fairly accurate" that he really has no problem with gay people. "It really has nothing to do with Gay people, but anyone who feels that they need an inordinate amount of attention," he said, but he would be happy to meet with me and talk it over when next he is in Pattaya in three months time. We have a tentative lunch date.
I am going to ask him: "So why did you include it in the book, and if you dislike anyone who seeks an inordinate amount of attention why did you write one?" Anyone have any other questions you think I should ask?