By Dr. T
History teaches us that the country we now call the United States of America was first a dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for a group of people fleeing religious persecution and the tyranny of Sovereign rule. This nation was founded through rebellion, and a movement, that unified its citizenry to rise up in resistance to taxation without representation. It was birthed through a revolutionary war that was an absolute rejection of oligarchical rule where the power and governance resided in the hands of the wealthy or gentrified class. These working class patriots, who fought and died to establish this great nation, pulled together and organized to demand a representative government by the people, for the people and of the people, once and for all time. The establishment of a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens, entitled to vote and where such vote is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to The People, to govern according to the Law. Those are American Values!
The Constitution, which is the law by which our society maintains its civility, holds in sacred trust the laws that demonstrate our values as “Americans.” What is happening in this country right now has exposed how fragile the integrity of what these “so-called” values represent, and how diverse the interpretation of exactly what we “value” as Americans has become.
The paradoxical irony is not lost on what we are currently experiencing, with regard to the Travel Ban imposed by a Presidential Executive Order. The order prohibits entry into the United States by travelers from seven specific countries, whose populations are primarily Muslim, and blocks the entry of any refugees for the next 90 days, but specifically targets Syrian refugees as indefinitely blocked. For a nation founded by refugees, who were threatened with death, imprisonment and persecution because of their religious beliefs, it is incredulous that we can so easily put our own history aside and actively discriminate against other peoples who find themselves in the same circumstances of life and death danger as those who fled to America’s shores in the first place. Where are our American values? Where is the moral leadership and imperative we once swore to uphold?
During WWII in 1939, a ship called the St. Louis left Hamburg for Cuba and the U.S. The ship had 935 men, women and children aboard. They were Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and they were stopped from entering the U.S. and turned away at our water’s edge. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who a few years later would use an Executive Order to round up tens of thousands of Japanese Americans and put them in concentration camps, could have ordered that these refugees be allowed to stay in the U.S. but, he did not. FDR’s defenders and apologists stress that he never issued a “specific or official order to turn them away.” No, the anti-Semitic and governmental dissent about the war did that for him. The point is that he did nothing and those men, women and children were returned to Nazi Germany to suffer the consequences of the Holocaust.
After World War II, the cultural sentiment within the country changed. The international community recognized the importance of helping refugees, and AFTER the Holocaust; the U.S. decided that helping refugees was a moral imperative. We are a better nation than our government and our elected officials are currently demonstrating to the world. We the people MUST hold them responsible for how they represent US. “We the People…” remember the past. We remember our history and we will not be silent this time.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
– Edmund Burke