“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
– Emma Lazarus
My entire family is comprised of immigrants. Big surprise seeing as how unless you were here before the arrival of Christopher Columbus, aka The Butcher of Genoa, so are yours. But more importantly a significant chunk of my family were refugees. Oh, there’s a trace of Cherokee blood in my woodshed along with a drop of African via the deep south. And of course, I’m descended from the man, Lieutenant Maynard, who hunted down Black Beard and sunk the Queen Anne’s Revenge. But that’s the exception in my lineage, not the rule.
On my mother’s side, my family by and large is made up of the English peasants running from the poverty of post-revolution Britain and the Irish who escaped the Potato Famine of the mid-nineteenth century. They left a land where the poor, who my family definitely was, had been reduced to eating grass in an attempt to survive another day. What did they find on the other side of the Atlantic? Hate, fear, racism, and violence.
My father’s side is a little different. Most of them have only been here since post World War 2. Why is that? Because they were refugees escaping the horror, destruction, and poverty of a continent laid low by the worst war in human history. English, Irish, French, and Dutch history live in my paternal woodshed.
They came from different eras and regions, but they all had one thing in common. My forbearers uprooted themselves from lives and lands they loved in the hopes of giving their children a chance at a real life, a life without fear and hunger, a life of freedom and choice in a land that prided itself on those things.
I’m a mutt and I’m gods damned proud of it. Or, to put it another way, I’m an American.
I tell you all this before getting to the next part in order to give you context. If it weren’t for America taking in the poor, displaced, frightened, and desperate, I wouldn’t be here. I’m willing to bet many of you would find yourselves in the same situation if you thought about it.
America was built by people without shared history, culture, or language, and we’ve always been the stronger for it. We’ve historically confronted racism, injustice, bigotry, and fear with the rule of law and an honest attempt to find the path of least harm. We were the country other countries looked to for guidance, not because we had the biggest club, but because Americans could be counted on to help. It was a badge of pride for us to know that when there was a crisis we were the first ones to offer help and we almost always provided the most.
Or at least that was the land I was born into and loved with all of my heart.
In the last few years one of the major situations used as a lightning rod by the demagogues and pundits mostly on the right, it’s my essay and I’ll call it like I see it, has been illegal immigration. Most of this has come from the lands south of the border (Mexico, Central, and South America) just coincidentally from countries ravaged by America’s failed War on Drugs and the pre-1990’s fight against the Red Menace in the Western Hemisphere. In other words, these are refugees from countries ravaged by wars we either started or inflamed.
Are there criminals amongst these refugees? Of course there is and anyone who says there aren’t is either naïve or stupid. But I’ve NEVER seen evidence that the criminals are but the smallest fraction of these people. And there are always criminals amongst refugees, hell there were several members of the Irish Mob among the first members of my family to plant their feet here.
Now we have the situation in the middle east in general and Syria in specific. The region is burning itself to death and with a few exceptions I don’t think much of the current political structure will still be there in ten years. Let’s be really honest America, we let the government destroy these people for the sake of oil and in order to feed the military industrial complex. It’s a fact and it if you’re gonna scream “9-11” and “terrorists” at me then you really have no clue how this world has worked for a very long time now.
I’m not going to go over the bullshit talking points of the hard right because they are mostly lies and they are reprehensible. These are people were talking about, not a bushel of grapes where two or three might be tainted with some mythical poison. Yes, there will likely be a few a terrorists among the needy and scared, but they’d be there anyway—we created them. Britain, Lebanon, Turkey, Germany, and even France, the country ISIS attacked, are pledged to stand against the terrorists and take in millions of the displaced.
What is America, that bastion of the free and desperate, doing?
We might take in 10,000 people by the end of the next year. But even as we say that 31 state governors, shocker all but one a republican, have said they will defy the federal government and not allow the refugees inside the borders of their fiefdoms. Just today the United States House of Representatives passed a bill the President has promised to veto which would make it almost impossible for any refugees to legally enter the country.
Add to that the downright evil and scary things being said by the Republican Presidential candidates. From only letting in proven Christians to not letting anyone in, to putting green crescent moons on their clothes and closing down mosques, and let’s not ignore the handful of them advocating for state national guards forcibly stopping the settlement of refugees.
Where am I living now?!?!?!
You know what would really stick in ISIS’s craw? Take every refugee that asks for safety, treat them like family, and refuse to let those monsters keep making us the bad guys… or you know since a fraction of a fraction, of a fraction, of a percent MIGHT be bad guys let’s just turn them all away. It’s not like we created this situation or anything. There was a time when America was ready to help people… Guess that’s all a memory now, not much longer I suppose until we drop all pretense and just turn on everyone deemed too different, put them in camps, and enact a permanent solution.
Yes, I “Godwined” the shit out of this, deal with it.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Josh-Hilden/e/B0094ACFPA/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/josh-hilden-author/116260821801432
Google Plus: http://plus.google.com/108367962143408220773/posts
GWS Press Book Club: https://www.patreon.com/gwspress
Mailing List: http://forms.aweber.com/form/03/1103141603.htm
Watt Pad: http://wattpad.com/JoshHilden