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I’ve never been really patriotic. I actually began protesting the pledge of allegiance in High School, when I no longer felt that I could rightfully pledge my allegiance to the United States. I truly believed in peace and felt that the United States did not share a common interest.

Recently, however, several things have begun changing my appreciation level for the United States. Among them being this small thing called asylum. Asylum is the right of persons to live free from government and social persecution and the responsibility of countries that profess freedom and democracy to provide shelter and safe haven from that persecution. I have been processing asylum applications with my professor. The stories I read are horrendous accounts of rape, violence, erroneous fines, and often murder, faulty imprisonment and torture.

I read first hand accounts of domestic violence. Women who are beaten and raped by their husbands and sometimes in-laws. But when they go to their police office for protection, they are told that they are at fault for their own abuse. Sometimes, they are even fined.

In some situations, the government plays a direct role in persecuting individuals, especially based on sexual orientation, or in a particular instance where a party official decided that he wanted to marry a young girl, who didn’t want to marry him back. Because of the political weight the man carried, her family was subject to fines, beatings and raids by the local police and her boyfriend was sent to an unknown prison on trumped up charges. I wonder if the party official really thought that was a way to win a girl…

So I read these cases, and though I haven’t met the people who have experienced these tragedies, I really feel for them. I have a new found respect for the United States, where even though the police service isn’t perfect and still does not document cases of domestic violence and sexual assault properly, at least they don’t fine and imprison based on some party official’s desires. Even though I still can’t pledge allegiance with a full heart, I still am thankful, in my own way for the United States and for the limited freedoms that we are able to enjoy. So even though the United States has been the most violent country in the history of the world with the highest record of overseas wars… and even though U.S. through off the colonial yoke, only to be the internal colonizers of Native Americans… and even though the U.S. despite it’s rhetoric of multiculturalism still promotes monocultural hegemony… I am still thankful that I can write all of those things and not be thrown into prison.

So Happy Birthday America, and just for you a tribute in Red, White, and Blue.

Blue Tortilla Espanola with Garden Tomatoes

1 1/2 c. medium quality olive oil

2-3 organic purple potatoes, sliced thinly

1/2 medium onion, chopped

4-5 cloves garlic

6 eggs

1 garden-ripe tomato

Slice your potatoes thinly, I did this with a sharp knife, but you could also use a mandolin.

Heat the oil in the pan and allow it to get hot, but not too hot, about 4 minutes, medium high flame. Add your potatoes in small batches. They are done when they are soft and they turn a lighter shade of blue. This step looks a little bit like some type of sea life. Drain potatoes using a fry sieve or a colander over a bowl. Keep the oil.

Fry the onions and garlic in the same oil until they are translucent, but not brown. Drain in your sieve or colander and reserve the oil.

Whip your eggs together.

Add the potatoes and onions. Let these sit for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Put 1-2 Tbs of your reserved oil back into the pan. Heat for about 1-2 minutes (so the eggs don’t stick) and pour the potato egg mixture into the pan. Scrape the eggs into the middle as if you are cooking an omelet. Add your sliced tomatoes on top here. Once the eggs seem firm and the bottom golden brown, you are ready for the flip.

To perform the flip, loosen the edges of your tortilla and invert a plate over the pan. In one motion, flip the entire plate/pan over so that the tortilla is now on the plate. Slide it back, gooey side down into the pan. Cook for about 4-5 minutes more until both sides are a nice golden brown but not burned. Invert onto a clean plate (so that your tomatoes are on top) and serve at your favorite 4th of July brunch, BBQ, or party!

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