I’m ashamed of what I’ve seen over the past 48 hours. With the world watching, factions within the America’s new government and the President signed an executive order banning travelers from seven muslim majority foreign countries. This includes the war torn country of Syria, which if you haven’t been paying attention is one of the worst places in the entire world right now. Innocent women and children who’ve watched their country disintegrate before their eyes are barred from safety in the US out of a concern they’d want to come here and do us harm. It’s beyond the pale.
I sat up last night in bed worried about what kind of country we’ve become. Worried if in the coming months and years it means the country my children will grow up won’t look the same, or feel the same. Worried there will be another boy sitting bloodied in the back of an ambulance because our country told him and his parents no. There is more to this issue than our own perceived security. Lives other than our own are at risk, and if you believe in what we did to stop the forces of Nazi Germany back in the 1940’s, then how is it any different that we would fight to keep the people who are so desperate to get to a safe place. This country was built and forged by people who did not come from here – anyone telling you anything different has no perspective on history. The Irish who immigrated here built it, the Chinese who came here built it, the Germans who came here built it, how are they any different? They weren’t muslim. Which means the current administration is fit to position the American people against one of the three major world religions. Tell me if that sounds like the basis of a religious war.
I understand the need to keep America safe, and I am not blind to the fact that there are terror groups who want to do us harm. ISIS is real, it is not some illusionary group created by CGI, and that means we must defend our borders from people who would do us harm, but this is not the way to do that. As an American I believe this can be done without draconian policies which raise walls and bar entire swaths of people based on their religion from coming here. I believe these policies will be effective in doing one thing – inflaming the conflict between a perceived Christian nation and the people who choose to radicalize elements of the muslim religion. This is red meat for them, to be served up on a platter for young men around the world. This is the proof they need to show how ugly America is. Make no mistake, the administration’s actions are a banner raising, war-cry inducing, shock wave which will roll through the camps and cities where they recruit.
Resistance to these policies and ways of thinking are by their nature natural for Americans, and those speaking out against the people protesting should remember that they held on tightly to the same first amendment right when the opposing party was in power. When we see those who cannot defend themselves, we have a history of lending a hand and helping them back to their feet. We must not waiver in that love. We must not go gently into that darkest of night which is isolationism, protectionism, and fascism.
I have watched with my own eyes what happened to American muslims after September 11th. Fear is too simple a word for what they felt. These were people who loved, and in one case, put on the uniform of this country and defended it. And after that day, because of how they looked, people questioned if they were a terrorist.
This is my message to the administration and their supporters – before you damn innocent people to a life of endless war, starvation, inequity, and horror, consider what it would be like if that ban was turned on you and your family. Step into the shoes of the innocent for one moment, and imagine the elation of getting past the bombs and guns to make it to safety only to be turned back from that safety because you come from a country which has a majority religion America has deemed an enemy ethos.
I protest on behalf of the innocent, on behalf of the mother and the child, on behalf of the sick and the dying. The aegis of this country is meant to protect the the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. For these people are the homeless, tempest-tossed, and our voices should be the lamp which shows their feet the path to safety, not to horror, as the message inscribed on libertas so eloquently states.
For the past, present, and future innocent – I must resist.