Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Not My Father's America

Forget the politics. Forget whose fault it is. Watching what is happening on the southern border of the United States is depressing and disgusting. It's shameful.

I am glad that my father, his brothers, his friends are gone. This is not the America they served for, fought for, sometimes marched and rallied for, voted for, and, despite different politics, different levels of education, different degrees of success, believed in. It's not the America I grew up being taught to believe in.

Yes, it may have been an idealized America. It may have been only a part of America.  But it was a good and decent America, even if it was in their and our dreams, even if it was their, and our, idealized America.

It was not an America where immigrants, legal or illegal, refugees, people afraid and on the run, people seeking a better life, were demonized.  It was not an America where immigrant children are torn away from their parents and are sleeping on concrete floors with aluminum "blankets." It was not an America where fathers and baby daughters wash up dead on river banks.

In my father's America, and mine, we helped people who were in desperate straits. We didn't perpetuate their misery.

As an American citizen, brought up on the ideals and the dreams of America that my father imbued in me, not naive about its faults, but still a believer in the ideals, I am ashamed.

Former First Lady Laura Bush rightly asserted that what is happening on the border belies America's claims</a></a> to be a moral nation: 

"Americans pride ourselves on being a moral nation, on being the nation that sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance. If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place." 

The 99 year old former Nuremberg trials prosecutor Ben Ferencz knows crimes against humanity when he sees them, and he says he is seeing them now: