This Sunday, I am sure many of you slept well in your cozy beds and awoke to enjoy your morning rituals. Perhaps you planned your day to run errands or spend precious time with family. Maybe you sipped your coffee as you read through the day’s news or walked your dog around the neighborhood. Did you notice that the country was safer today? Could you feel it in the air you breathe how much more secure America was after the last 48 hours? Well, I do not, and let me tell you why. The week of executive malpractice has lead us not to be more secure but instead less safe and more shameful as a nation. Our country of religious freedom and liberty with its bedrock of immigrant roots is now under blatant attack not only from outside forces but from within. Let’s review the FACTS:
- The National Security Council, the group of advisors to the president to keep us safe, has been reorganized to include the president’s top political advisor Steve Bannon, who only months ago was leading the alt-right internet site Brietbart News. This unprecedented action is countered with the apparent sidelining of the Director of National Intelligence and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to a need-to-know basis. Does this really make us more safe?
- Billions of dollars will be spent in constructing a brick and motor wall on our southern border while we underfund or ignore cybersecurity and effective counterintelligence programs. Does this really make us safer?
- Elevating relationships with authoritarian regimes like Russia (and considering removing sanctions for their role in attacking our democracy) in spite of our allies in Europe. Does this really make us safer?
- Continuing to elevate conspiracy theories and alternative facts to reaffirm principles of intolerance and ignorance. Not long ago this administration believed and propagated that President Obama was born in Kenya and not so recently that millions of voters in our midst completed the biggest election fraud in history so to win the popular vote but lose the electoral college. Does this really make us safer?
- Banning refugees from Syria and denying entry to the country due to a religious litmus test with no regard to the implications of this action. Pushing away potential allies in the fight against Islamic extremism while fueling nationalistic xenophobia and hate crimes in our own country. Google mosque burning in Texas when you finish reading to find out more. Does this really make us safer?
Perhaps one can do mental gymnastics to come up with rebuttals and arguments on how this will all work out in the end. Maybe we can tell ourselves that the actions are done for the greater good to keep us safe from our sworn evil enemies. What is the big deal if a few people cannot travel to the U.S. if that means we will not have to suffer thorough attacks at home like we see in Europe (though I would argue this is quite the opposite)?
Well, my fellow citizens, remember the mark of a righteous nation is how we treat those who are oppressed in our midst. Since after the second World War, the United States has been a beacon of hope for refugees across the world. For a moment imagine yourself a Syrian family caught in the bloody civil war. You have been shelled out of your home and fled in peril to a refugee camp. Perhaps you are lucky enough to apply for relocation and have family in the United States. While living in a foreign land, you apply and start the long arduous process to be accepted to the United States. You endure the vetting process for months not because you have hate in your heart but because of hope. (See this link for a first person account). Then imagine that you are accepted to relocate and the joy in your voice as you tell your children you will leave this purgatory and settle in the land of the free. Aland where you can go back to work and your children can play in safety and restart their education. Then, imagine those same eyes looking at you in disbelief as you tell them that after the stroke of a pen that the United States of America has decided you are not worthy to be admitted indefinitely. How do you explain to your family that you are not “good enough” to be there? How do you explain to them that you must wait again for a new home? How do you not feel re-traumatized after the years of suffering while you watch on TV that this same government is planning to work in concert in the future with the very regime that displaced you in the first place?
So this Sunday while we go about our daily lives feeling a false sense of security take a moment to remember those who are now living in fear in our country and worldwide due to the actions of this administration. As you lay down to sleep be thankful that you are not from one of the seven war torn countries banned for travel to the United States because they worship the God of Abraham. Sleep well knowing that the administration did not come for you and that you are one of the lucky ones safe and sound. Feel comfortable being silent as you go about your daily life; after all, this was only one week right?