Friday, January 27th, 2017 – This Administration’s decision to ban all immigrants including refugees fleeing persecution from seven Muslim countries fails on four counts as not being just, accurate, useful or in keeping with America’s founding immigrant values and history. According to Georgia Public Broadcasting (National Public Radio) and New York Times reports, (How Does Trump’s Immigration Freeze Square With His Business and Who Hasn’t Trump Banned? People From Places Where He’s Done Business – by Richard W. Painter and Norman L. Eisen), it is also potentially rife with conflicts of interest.
Emma Lazarus and her sonnet, “The New Colossus,” celebrated and cemented the iconic, exceptionally aspirational profile of the United States of America symbolized by Liberty, “a mighty woman with a torch” and the “Mother of Exiles:”
“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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
With a stroke of the presidential pen, the “lamp beside the golden shore” uplifted and upheld by America’s Statue of Liberty (“enlightening the world” since 1886), has been selectively extinguished for huddled masses of immigrants and refugees, mostly women and their children, righteously yearning to breathe free. This policy was designed by White House Senior Advisors, Steve Bannon and Steve Miller, with legal framing contributed by campaign supporters such as former New York City Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, and approved by the President. It practices racial and religious profiling, discriminates against those who have played by America’s already stringent and cumbersome visa process rules and in some cases punishes those who have nobly and bravely served forward-deployed American foreign policy interests.
The United States turned back boatloads of Jews fleeing from Nazi Germany and interned Japanese Americans out of fear and prejudice at the beginning of World War II. Friday’s act is no different.
This Administration’s executive order flies in the face of making the United States “great again” by torpedoing the latest waves of “homeless-tempest-tossed” through vindictive and hypocritical, elective surgery policy. If the cited NPR and NYT articles prove true, Emma Lazarus’ “New Colossus” golden door risks betraying its uplifting mission and morphing into nothing but a commercial brand ripe for kleptocracy commoditization.
For those nostalgically enthralled by post-World War II domestic “happy days”, lyrics from the revered 1950s Broadway musical, South Pacific, and it’s 1949 tune, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” (songwriters Rogers and Hammerstein), place the President’s Friday Night immigration policy massacre in American social historical context, to wit:
“You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!”
This weekend, thousands upon thousands of Americans demonstrated to support the detainees. Volunteer lawyers and legal aid organizations worked round the clock in all of the country’s most affected airports. At least three federal judges simultaneously held that this ban violates the U.S. Constitution. New York, Virginia and Washington federal district judges put up temporary restraining orders stopping related deportations and detainment.
So far, American constitutional ideals and tenets are motivating citizens to mobilize against small-bore, “miss the mark” shaming policies reflecting an imposed, polarizing nationalistic populism that did not earn majority popular vote support. America’s immigrant-assimilation DNA bequeaths a moral and spiritual legacy standard capable of reaching deep, wide and high to imagine and deploy healing national solidarity policies as a depersonalized force for doing well by first doing good.
In just one week, the road already traveled from “E Pluribus Unum” to #MAHA – “Make America Hate Again” – is littered with democracy’s antibodies but still the people rise to float hope back to the front and center of national discourse. Like Harpers Ferry, Fort Sumter, Philippi, and Big Bethel over 150 years ago, these are beginning skirmishes in the impending, colossal civic war to reclaim all of the unalienable rights grafted by design and also through immense struggle onto America’s functioning, egalitarian soul.