On September 11, 2001, the symbolic center of American capitalism and economic hegemony was chosen for horrific destruction to strike at the heart of our way of life. 18 years later, we are once again under attack, only this time, it is from within. The metanarrative of the American experience is immigration. Unless your ancestors were native Americans, or were forcibly relocated here during the African diaspora, you are an immigrant–the Pilgrims fleeing intolerance, the huddled masses at Ellis Island, the desperate Irish Potato famine victims, the El Salvadorian refugees—we are immigrants.; Immigration has shaped and defined America.
And yet in 2019, we have an individual, placed in the Oval Office by the Electoral College, who vilifies immigrants and refugees, and deliberately chooses divisive racist language to appeal to the very worst in us: fear, greed, selfishness, xenophobia and hate. Immigrants are not our enemies. Immigration has EXPANDED the American economy, not contracted it. The pie gets bigger, not smaller. And yet we have arrived at a new unrecognizable version of ourselves: one in which Hispanics must fear going to Walmart; one in which the president suggests that American citizens/members of Congress should “go back where they came from;” one in which Heather Heyer was mowed down by “good people” at Charlottesville for daring to speak out against racism; one in which Muslims, Jews, and Hispanics must live in fear of being murdered for their faith or ethnic origin.
When the history of this dark era is written, what will it say about us? That we stood by and allowed this to happen? When your grandchildren learn of these dark days, where will you tell them that you stood? Maybe you stood by when he bragged about sexually assaulting women, when he mocked the disabled, when he mocked an American POW/war hero, when he called White Nationalists, “good people,” when he stood by the Russian dictator at Helsinki and rejected our own intelligence and law enforcement agencies, when he called African nations “shithole countries,” when he sat in front of the crosses at Normandy and mocked his political enemies, and even when he suggested shooting immigrants in the Florida panhandle. But in the Summer of 2019, when he whipped his followers into an angry anti-immigrant frenzy and a home-grown terrorist took him up on it and gunned down 44 people in El Paso, ending 22 innocent lives, did you take a stand against him? Did you say, “Enough!”? There is a direct and bloody trail from Trump’s tweets and rhetoric at his rallies to the El Paso massacre. If we do not speak out against this now, When will we? We are complicit in future deaths if we do not try to stop this.
In the interest of full disclosure: this deadly and dangerous powder keg is deeply personal to me. My wife and children are Hispanic. My Hispanic son lives and works and shops in Texas. Yes, he is a natural-born citizen, but your average crazed gunman doesn’t ask for birth certificates before he sprays the Walmart, movie theater, concert, church, synagogue, college campus, or elementary school with bullets from his weapon of war. But if you can dismiss this because you and your loved ones are white, not brown, then YOU are the problem. This CANNOT be our new norm. We CANNOT accept this. Stop the madness. We must come back together as a unified nation which celebrates diversity, before it is too late; it may already be: the calls are coming from inside the house.