Wednesday, February 01, 2017

My Friend, Luis

He said something today on social media, and I reproduce it here, for your consideration:

"One may disagree on the seriousness of Trump's executive order, its necessity, its effectiveness or its moral character. But I've seen some pretty appalling stuff being said here on FB, not just about the EO but about immigrants in general.

So let me say this, in case it's not evident: I'm an immigrant. Like many before me, I came to the U.S. seeking a better life. I happen to be from Portugal. It doesn't matter. I could have been Chinese, Mexican or Iranian - the basic motivation to come here would have been the same. I feel a deep kinship with all immigrants who left their language, their families, their identity, because their country simply did not offer conditions for them to thrive, because there are no jobs there that pay enough to pay rent or put food on the table, let alone raise a family. I don't mean unskilled jobs. I mean engineers, nurses and medical doctors. And this of course to say nothing of those immigrants whose countries don't offer them conditions to survive, let alone thrive. I can't imagine how desperate they must be.

In many ways I feel closer to all immigrants, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever, than I feel to people here who complain about 5% unemployment and wages that enable them to have a car, pay the rent and food and still have some surplus. I'm sorry, I know you were used to even better conditions a few decades ago. But you must understand that I can't take your complaints very seriously given the opportunities this country still offers. I just can't.

So when you say barbaric things about immigrants, you must realize that I take them personally. I take them as applying to me, since I'm no different than some of the people you attack. I therefore conclude that you are not my friend and that in fact you wish me ill. I have already unfriended people here over this. More importantly, I have "unfriended" them in real life. Some people I can no longer bring myself to greet on the street.

Do with that information what you will."

[Me talking] I think one thing about the general tenor of our last political season was how un-American it was, and I don't mean that anyone wished America ill. As has been said many times, we are a nation of immigrants. The greatness of America is in the fact that it doesn't matter where you're from, or even where you've been. Nothing says "fresh start" more emphatically than America. It's an entire nation built at least ostensibly on an idea or ideas: self-determination, and meritocracy.

And, by contrast, we have a president who behaved as though the pie is only so big, that between the Mexicans and the Muslims, there'd be nothing left for the "real Americans." I can think of no sentiment more cowardly, more un-American than that. Please pardon the sentiment here, but I thought we were the people with open doors, and open hearts. The woman who made Rwandans fleeing the genocide American citizens on the fly, that's America. Remember when we fought back the fascists in the second world war? It probably wouldn't have hurt us to mind our own business, but we didn't. We believed that anyone who had the gall to believe that only those who have the right skin color (or whatever else) were people--and would kill for that belief--had to be stopped.

Who are we now? Seems like some people think we're the Chosen Ones, by accident of birth. Like Ann Coulter. I swear, she used to be funny. Now, she just parrots ethnocentric garbage from people smarter, and more dangerous. The nation of immigrants is afraid of outsiders? When did this happen?

I can't imagine my day-to-day life without immigrants. I love them, and am loved by them. Every story is like a Hollywood movie, but it's real. Somewhere, we have forgotten that we are owed nothing. We are owed nothing, but a future is possible. Why do we deny a future to others, when it was permitted us?

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