Sunday, January 29, 2017

America is not walls and bans, it is tolerance and pluralism!

America is not about walls and bans, and "us" and "them". America is great because we are a nation of immigrants, we are a pluralistic nation. THAT is what is most inspiring, wonderful and special about us--that's what makes us great! Our tolerance and our pluralism are our greatest inspiration to the world and our greatest strength as a nation. And if we build walls, enact bans, infuriate our neighbors to the south, turn people away at the airport who have been told they could come here, and who want nothing more than to live the American dream...or at least to LIVE, not to be sent back to certain death, then we are willingly giving up what actually makes us great in the name of barricading ourselves behind false protections. What really protects us is our constitution, and our welcoming hearts. Without those, we might as well wave the white flag now, because we are done.

We are done when we become unrecognizable to ourselves.  We are done when we move from welcoming democracy to walled fascist state.

My dear fellow Americans:  we need to fight--show up and stand up--for the constitution now. We need to come together and not let those who would divide us for their own ends succeed in doing that. We need to protect and defend our constitution and each other. And I will just add that I am so profoundly heartened to see so many people doing just that. From the Women's March last week, which I participated in and which gave me great inspiration, renewed faith in my fellow Americans, and hope, to the many, many people who showed up in the freezing cold to JFK airport last night, and to many other airports both last night and today (and to the White House), chanting "Let them in!  Let them in!", we are showing up to stand up for our democracy.

The whole world is watching...and hopefully seeing that there are more of us than there are of Trump and those who support his hateful world view.  And that we will keep on showing up and speaking up.

Not that many years ago at all, in terms of human history, some of my own Jewish people came here on boats, fleeing for their lives from Nazi Germany.  Surely America would take them in.  But no, America turned them away.  They were sent back to their deaths in concentration camps.  I'm lucky because my mom's side of the family, also German Jews, had come here before WWII.  We were already here.  Already safe.  But I see my family's faces in the faces of those German Jews, captured in photographs, who weren't so lucky.  And I can never let it happen again.  I can't be like "the Good Germans" who turned away and said they "didn't know".  Maybe some of them didn't know.

But in America today, we have no excuse, no way to say "We didn't know".  We have a free press and we have news coming in from all over the world.  We have the internet--they didn't have that in WWII.  They didn't have Facebook.  They didn't have the face of a 5-year-old boy, who had been bombed, sitting shell-shocked and wounded in an ambulance in Aleppo staring back at them.  But we do.  We know.  We know what is going on in Syria.  Are we going to let our President just slam the door on refugees from there, who are fleeing for their very lives?  Are we going to turn away?  Or are we going to show ourselves and the world what America really stands for, emphasis on "stands for"?  Let's rise up and demand that our President let them in!

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