It’s Independence Day, or July 4th, in the United States of America. A day when we are supposed to pause as a nation to reflect upon our history, throwing off our British oppressors, and founding a new nation that cherished the ideals of freedom, democracy, equality and much more. But usually people set off fireworks, cook alot of meat, drink alot of beer, and don’t think anything of it. And woe be to anyone like A Dude who declares himself a citizen of the world. After all, the location of my birthplace was a completely random event. I could be Swedish, Afghani, Congolese, Inuit, or even from New Jersey. The horror!
Today’s blog was going to be a review of my statistics about my blog. And that just seemed frivolous, as things do when you’re having deep thoughts. So as I went on my 25-mile ride, with people setting off fireworks all around me, I couldn’t help but think about the dichotomy, contradiction even, between those historic ideals and present, very ugly realities. With the backdrop of the World Cup on my mind, and given how few people still actually read my words, I decided to throw in my two cents about how wrong it is to treat immigrants like second-class citizens, and the dangerous path toward neo-fascism the U.S. appears to be on.
The New Colossus: Remember the Statue of Liberty?
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,With conquering limbs astride from land to land;Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall standA mighty woman with a torch, whose flameIs the imprisoned lightning, and her nameMother of Exiles. From her beacon-handGlows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes commandThe air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries sheWith silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This poem is affixed to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, a gift from France. It is, without question, one of the most famous assertions of the American ideal as you’ll ever find. And yet, in 2018, we have a sitting U.S. president, who with his party of sycophants, scoundrels and frankly, neo-fascists, is doing everything in his power to take the country’s policy on immigration in the exact opposite direction. By imprisoning children and separating them from their immigrant parents who are fleeing drug violence, gangs, domestic violence and political strife, #45 aka Tinyhands Orangehead is violating bedrock American principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and subsequent case law, not to mention basic human decenty.
Speaking of the Statue of Liberty, a woman protesting US immigration policy was arrested for climbing on it today.
By Frank McGurty
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York woman was expected to be arraigned in federal court on Thursday, a day after authorities say she scaled the stone pedestal of the Statue of Liberty to protest U.S. immigration policy, media reported.
Therese Patricia Okoumou, 45, of Staten Island, was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and interference with governmental administration and was being held by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Why is the US president so virulently anti-immigrant? I’m not sure, but part of it is because he’s a nationalist, and that plays to his fan base. And he’s nothing if not a shameless, self-promoting TV star. He claims immigrants are criminals, taking American jobs, and otherwise blames them for destroying our country.
Scapegoating is a classic trick used by the powerful to distract the working, middle class and poor from how capitalist cronies are raping and pillaging all branches of government to enrich their corporate masters. But #45 is missing the point: there is a huge swath of America that will not tolerate his hatred of Muslims, Mexicans and more. This has been refreshingly evident by the thousands of protests around the country, and even people from his own Republican party are repudiating his putrid policies of poison. A Dude has been to two rallies and will attend more as they happen and time allows.
Everyone in the US is an Immigrant*
*Unless you’re a Native American, everyone living in the U.S. is an immigrant, or a descendant of one. And it’s a fallacy that most immigrants commit crimes, don’t pay taxes or don’t contribute to society. A Dude takes great exception to the horrible treatment of these immigrants, particularly children, not just because it’s wrong, doesn’t work, and is cruel. Some of my ancestors were in Auschwitz and other of Hitler’s concentration camps. So it’s personal as well as political. Why focus on this problem now? Don’t we have plenty of other problems? Have the millions of immigrants, with and without papers, who have been coming for years, some doing yes, some jobs most Americans don’t want to do, really become a huge problem all of a sudden? No, this is just nationalism, pure and simple.
I’ve also been to Latin America on two occasions for more than just a vacation. I was in school doing independent study of Spanish and an internship where I worked with a non-governmental and human rights organization. I saw the mistreatment of indigenous, labor unionists, mothers of the disappeared, not to mention the grinding poverty that would cause any sane person with children to risk everything to try to make a better life. I actually have seen this issue from both sides and know what the hell I’m talking about. Because of that eye-opening experience many years ago, and living on a very international and multi-cultural campus, I learned at a young age that life is just more interesting when you interact with people who are different from you. To quote the French, “Vive le difference!”
Soccer, Diversity and Hope
Now I know that the World Cup seems like a wonderful paradise of diversity, with its fans and many teams coming from all over. But soccer espeically in Europe is, like immigration there, also wildly contentious. Mexico was fined for its fans chanting a bad word; so has been Russia. Many countries like socialist paradise Sweden are grappling with a resurgence of neo-Nazis reacting to the influx of immigrants, just like America. People can be wonderful but also succumb to ignorance and the bad examples of their leaders.
Still, there is cause for hope. The courts have put a pause on the family separations and even reversed them. The backlash is growing, lawsuits are being filed, and mid-term elections are coming in four short months. There will be much work to do to sort out this problem, reunite kids with their parents, and deal with the people who are still fleeing to the U.S. every day.
I just wanted to go on record, in the tiny little speck of the internet that I have, to say that I am one of millions who say “Ya, Basta!” This is enough.
Conclusion: Keep Working for Justice and Keep Cycling
There is a horror movie that came out today called “The First Purge.” It’s fourth in a series but a prequel to the others, in which in a dystopian version of the future, for 12 hours a year, Americans are allowed to commit any crime they want. Now, I would never condone or participate in such violence. IT’S JUST A MOVIE. But I like the idea that like our foreparents in colonial days, when we kicked out the British, it’s time to purge America — NON-violently, through voter education, registration and enfranchisement of voters, and demonstrations. Time to take back our country and the world from the haters, the xenophobes, the people fearful of change, of difference and diversity.
There’s only one home: Earth. And there’s only one race: human. Deal with it.
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