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Showing posts with label Immigrant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Immigrant. Show all posts

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Independence Day - A Holiday Reflection


I have always loved the fourth of July; the mid-summer holiday, the nostalgic look back at the victories of the Continental Soldiers, the American revolutionaries who threw off the yoke of tyranny and the oppression of kings.

I loved it.

I loved it uncritically as a child.

I loved it without thought or question, and a part of me still does.

As I grew older and learned more about the real history of the revolutionary war, the real politics of the founders, the philosophies that drove them, the numerous ways in which they were morally and ethically compromised (compromised is too light of a word), compromised by war mongering and profiteering, compromised by slave-holding and the exclusion of women from governance; compromised by religious intolerance and a greed that drove them against the First People, as I learned more about these historical-truths it became self-evident that the nation was founded on a carefully balanced set of ideals that the founders themselves did not have the courage to live up to.

America was founded on a compact of lies.

The preamble to the constitution states that all people are created equal, that all people inherently possess rights which we cannot be separated from, the foremost of which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We hold these truths to be self-evident that these rights are inalienable, or so we are told. We are told that these rights do not derive from government, they derive from God, the creator of the universe, God the creator of every person in it, these rights do not belong to us because we are Americans, they belong to us because we are human beings and the American purpose is to defend those rights, both within our borders and around the world.

We have only ever paid lip service to these ideals. It was never more than wishful thinking, and today within our own borders we are trampling all over these rights, rights which belong to everyone, including, the immigrant and the alien among us, including our black and brown skinned sisters and brothers, including the working poor, and the homeless and everyone struggling to get by.

Instead of welcoming and protecting and sheltering the poor and the disenfranchised who have come to us for asylum, we are imprisoning them, denying them due process, dehumanizing them, abusing them, and it is breaking my heart.

Instead of protecting and serving the citizenry we are paying huge sums of money to police forces that kill the people with gross prejudice and criminal discrimination.

We have always failed to live up to our ideals.

The expression of these self-evident truths in the Declaration of Independence, and its codification in law in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, did not at the same time abolish the institutions of slavery, give women the right to own land, to vote and other modes of self-determination, neither did it not outlaw wars of aggression against the sovereign nations of the First People. These self-evident truths, these inalienable rights, did not prevent the United States of America from entering a campaign of genocide and extermination against them.

The founders applied these principles to themselves and their “peers,” they used those principles to justify their separation from the dominion of the kings of England, they used these principles to protect their property after the War of Independence had been won, but they refused to extend these principles to everyone within the aegis of American power; we continue to live with those failures today.

The 4th of July is Independence Day, it is a day to celebrate our freedom, and our victory in the Revolutionary War, there is much to celebrate in that.

I am a veteran, I know that war and battle create many opportunities for selflessness and displays of courage that most human beings cannot help but admire and applaud, even though the antecedents of war and the causes of conflict are always unjust, morally vacant and abhorrent.

Always and without exception war represents a failure of human beings to live up to the purpose we were created for.

In my heart, I want to celebrate the revolutionaries, their courage, the flag which unifies us as a nation, but I find it difficult. The story of America, beginning on July 4th, is one that has many bright moments, but we are foolish, cold-hearted and ignorant if we do not at the same time recognize the millions of slaves who built our first cities, who farmed the plantations, who established our first industries and the millions of people belonging to sovereign nations that we crushed in our westward expansion, starving and killing them without mercy, displacing them, outlawing their religion and customs, erasing their languages.

I find it difficult.

Who among us, knowing that history, finds it easy?

You would have to be a monster to be unmoved by the tragedies that ensued after the signing of our Declaration.

Yesterday Donald Trump held a political rally at Mount Rushmore, a sacred site that was stolen from the First People and carved up into a monument to honor a group of men, who may have been brilliant and wise and courageous, but who were also deeply flawed and guilty of the worst crimes against humanity

Donald Trump did it to exacerbate the racial tension that has griped the country in the fourth year of his presidency. He held it there like a cartoon villain, bankrupt and with no good reason to continue, he did it to stroke his ego to cover up the blemish of his incompetence at handling the worst public health crises the country has ever seen.

The 4th of July should be a time of soul searching and deep reflection and community, forget about the flag waving and jingoism.

Ask yourself what it means to be an American; immigrant, refugee, stolen people, enslaved people, conquered people, vanquished people, and the revolutionary. We are the descendants of them all, the immigrant, the refugee, the stolen, the enslaved, the conquered, the vanquished; we are their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren…we are one people with a common history, and a common set of ideals we should be continuously striving to live up to.

We are a great nation, if and only if we remember it all.



Given – 2020.07.04
Given 1st - 2016.07.04

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Hospitality - Editorial, The Week in Review


Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
12.29.2018

Hospitality


The laws of hospitality are the oldest laws of all, they are unwritten and universally understood.

If you have a guest in your home, you are responsible for their well-being. It does not get any more simple than that.

The United States has fallen far away from this standard.

Immigrant families are being separated from each other at the border. While they may have broken the laws of the United States for unlawfully entering the country, they are within their rights as human beings to seek a better life for themselves in their flight from poverty, persecution and injustice.

We are holding children in prisons. Some have been separated from their families, infants and toddlers, and we have no idea who their parents are or where they went. We have no means to return them.

Two children have dies in our custody in the last month, the latest on Christmas Eve. The administration of Donald Trump will not even acknowledge their responsibility for it. They blame the parents instead.

Make no mistake, anyone in our custody, whether they are friend or foe, a prison or a free person is entitled to a basic level of care. We have a responsibility for their welfare. We have a duty even to the stranger. The laws of hospitality are clear on this, these men and women and their children are our guests.

We are failing in our duties, failing them, and failing ourselves.

These faults are tragedies committed in our name.

It may seem silly to dwell on them, their stories came and went in a few short turns of the news cycle, and the deaths of these small children, these crimes which no-one will be held accountable for, are just two small drops in a great ocean of villainy America has perpetrated on the world and on its people.

But it is not silly, it is a necessary reflection on how far we have sunk that we cannot even expect our elected and appointed leaders to see these events against the backdrop of the laws of hospitality the knowledge of which we all carry deep in our hearts, the ancient international laws that assign to us responsibility for their care.

They twist and turn, point fingers and blame others because the think that if they hold themselves accountable they will be evincing a weakness that will cause their entire house of cards to fall apart.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Independence Day

I have always loved the fourth of July; the mid-summer holiday, the nostalgic look back at the victories of American revolutionaries throwing off the yoke of tyranny.
I loved it, uncritically as a child.
I loved it without thought or question.
As I grew older, and learned more about the real history of the revolutionary war, the real politics of the founders, the philosophies that drove them, the numerous ways in which they were morally and ethically compromised (compromise is too light of a word), by war mongering, and profiteering, and slave-holding. As I learned more about these truths, it became self-evident, that the nation was founded on a carefully balanced set of ideals that the founders themselves did not have the courage to live up to.
America was founded on a compact of lies.
The preamble to the constitution states that all people are created equal and possess, as an inherent aspect of their being, rights which they cannot be separated from, the foremost of which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The rights are unalienable, or se we are told. This has always been just wishful thinking.
The expression of this truth, and its codification in law, did not at the same time abolish the institutions of slavery, give women the right to own land, to vote, and other rights of self-determination. It did not make unlawful, wars of aggression against the sovereign nations of the First People. Those self-evident truths, those unalienable rights, did not prevent the United States of American entering into a campaign of genocide and extermination against them.
The founders applied these principles to themselves, and their “peers,” used those principles to justify their separation for the dominion of England, and to protect their property after the war of independence had been won.
War and battle create many opportunities for selflessness and displays of courage that most human beings cannot help but admire and applaud, even though the antecedents of war and the causes of conflict are always unjust, morally vacant and abhorrent.
In my heart, I want to celebrate the revolutionaries, their courage, the flag which unifies us, but I find it difficult. The story of the America, beginning on July 4th, is one that has many bright moments, but we are foolish, cold-hearted and ignorant if we do not at the same time recognize the millions of slaves who built our first cities, who farmed the plantations, who established our first industries, and the millions of people belonging to sovereign nations that we crushed in our westward expansion, starving them and killing them without mercy, displacing them and outlawing their religion and customs, erasing their language.
Does anyone find that easy?
The Fourth of July should be a time of soul searching and deep reflection, forget about the flag waving and jingoism.
Ask yourself what it means to be an American; immigrant, refugee, revolutionary, stolen people enslaved people, conquered people, vanquished people we are the descendants of them all.


Given 1st - 2016.07.04