Governor Snyder, Donald Trump and the Bankruptcy of American Values

On a chilly day in Michigan a refugee from Syria walked from the airport terminal onto the green land of his new home. He was greeted by a handful of people with signs, a newspaper journalist or two and a Facebook message from our governor.

This man, known as "The Scientist," is named Refaai Hamo. He cheerfully walked into the Great Lakes State as a leaf would blow into the whirling eye of a hurricane. That hurricane, a violent storm of rage and Islamophobia, started with a dull breath and whimpering noise that came out of Governor Snyder's mouth not so long ago.

A few days after the attacks in Paris our governor issued a statement about how Michigan is a "welcoming state to immigrants" while asking for Syrian refugees to be denied entry. As anti-Muslim sentiment crackled like electricity in the air of our political discourse, these words unleashed hatred with the speed of a lightning waiting to be summoned from the sky.

Almost a dozen other governors throughout the United States followed suit. Within a few days the growing storm became a hurricane as Donald Trump called for the registration of Muslims and the denial of all Muslims into the United States.

Our Governor has proven a sort of political chaos theory. He proved that a nerd sitting at his desk, more an accountant than a leader, could blow a few words out of his mouth and create a political storm that manifests in the burning of mosques, shots fired at women wearing headscarves and in a new American xenophobia tearing through our discourse.

Now we, the people, are left with the task of fixing it. I spoke to the media recently about how I believed our governor had unleashed a three-headed hound of Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia. To fix this will require not a single hero, but a herculean effort by every citizen to resist the temptation and darkness of fear.

Our American values are at stake.

Yet, we can't defeat our Governor, Trump or the dark rhetoric unleashed unless we understand it's source. The truth is that, in this dark time in American politics, the common thread throughout is a belief that bankruptcy, even in our values, is the answer.

When Detroit struggles and reels from decades of decline, our governor says to cut our losses and go bankrupt. When Detroit public schools face mountains of debt caused by decades of state mismanagement, he says to cut our losses and go bankrupt. When his business at Gateway computers was faltering and sputtering out, he decided to cut his losses and go bankrupt. And when our governor realized that he could no longer reconcile the American value of charity towards refugees seeking a new home and his own cowardly desire for safety, he said let's cut our losses and bankrupt our values, too.

When one lives a philosophy of bankruptcy, there is no virtue too valuable to give up.

Now, we here in Michigan approach Christmas as our state succumbs to a decidedly un-Christian feeling. One might contemplate Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethleham, faced with the Great Wall of Trump. They apply for a visa and Roman prelate Snyder says, "Too much trouble from you Jews in Rome - better if you stay where you are." Instead of a manger, Mary would give birth to Jesus in front of an 18 foot slab of concrete covering the horizon. Three border security guards would stand watch while cameras and barbed wire twinkle above the newborn king.

You might call it the Republican nativity.

America is in a very strange place this Christmas. We're all in a very strange place. And yet here we are, living in a state where our Governor waves to a single man as he enters our state, while with his right hand holds back the needy masses who yearn for a new life on our greener shores.

This must be what it feels like when there is nothing left in Michigan to foreclose.