Chants of “send them back” have echoed through the country since President Trump’s latest feud with four Democratic members of Congress. Just another example of the division that has parted this country like the Red Sea.
But it hasn’t stopped there. Since Trump’s election, immigration has become one of the most contentious political issues in the United States. Racist comments directed towards immigrants made on the national political stage have only fueled this fire.
There have been promises of mass deportations. There have been thousands of immigrants detained at concentration camps around the border. Migrant children who have been separated from their families and forced into conditions not even fit for a dog. Immigrants who have every right to be here are afraid to leave their homes. And apparently a large part of this country still doesn’t see why it’s wrong.
Neither does President Trump.
The flippancy displayed at the humanitarian plight at the southern border is disgusting, but not at all surprising. The apathy of the majority white Republican caucus and our white president make sense. They have no understanding of the repercussions of their heinous legislation and comments because they have never been scrutinized for the color of their skin. Every second of their life has been privilege. Why should they show empathy? After all, they were given the greatest gift that anyone in a country governed by racists, with racist voters could be given: They were born white.
They feel no need to call out these remarks, to feel outrage at the concentration camps on our border, to correct the wildly inaccurate claims about the immigrants seeking asylum, to make any attempt to unify. They don’t care.
For them to seek division for the sake of division reflects the worst values of this country. Values that have only been made louder by the current immigration policies.
So, this is what we are left with. A government that allows time and again the scapegoating of immigrants. We are left with concentration camps at our border. With people afraid to leave their homes because of the threat of deportation. With Democrats in Congress who feebly grasp onto their morality and weakly cry that we cannot be divided when, in truth, we always have been. We are left with the worst of our country, but it has been there all along.
But the idea of the United States? Of a place that offers freedom and liberty and protection and equality for all? It’s worth fighting for. Although we have never been able to achieve what we boast to possess because of the constant racism, xenophobia and hatred for anyone who is considered other that plagues our history, the pretend façade of our country is something that we should fight to achieve.
We are faced with a humanitarian crisis of our own making. With children in cages and immigrants left to cruelty for simply seeking a better place to exist. So, it is hard to face it. It is hard to ask why we could ever allow this to happen in a country that supposedly provides freedom and justice to all. But it is our responsibility to do what is hard. To fight for the equality that our Founding Fathers promised and that we have never quite achieved.
It’s true that that we are stronger together and that our diversity is what makes us great. It has always been true, even if we have never quite been able to fully understand it.
The nation we can be is possible. What we become, however, is up to you. It’s up to us to stand up to the injustices that have been ingrained in our society since the days of the Middle Passage and the Trail of Tears. To fight back against the idea that something that is different is inherently bad. To reject the notion that immigrants will be our downfall instead of our bigotry and hatred.
We have a responsibility to do better.
Who we are is up to us. And we cannot let it be what it is now.
The editorial reflects the opinions of our editorial board, which is why it appears without a byline. We welcome your letters to the editor delivered to room 506 or emailed to [email protected]