“This is not who we are.”
I have heard and read some version of this sentence dozens of times in the past two weeks—each time in reference to our actions at the border with Mexico. By “this” the speaker/writer means the separation of families and warehousing of children.
The people making this statement want so badly to feel good about the United States that they are willing to perform some sort of verbal magic by which they sever the things we as a country are doing from the country that we are.
When faced with the cognitive dissonance set off by seeing a country they love and want to feel good about doing something they hate and feel revulsion to, they make it okay for themselves by settling on “This is not who we are.”
I can’t do that verbal magic anymore. This IS who we are. We are a country that takes crying children from their parents thousands of miles from anything they know and places them in holding pens for days on end. In electing Donald Trump President and then allowing of members of Congress to get away with supporting him in his policies and actions, this is what we have become.
I appreciate the feeling behind the wish that this NOT be who we are. But the facts are undeniable. We are a country with a sizeable portion of citizens who LIKE what is happening at the border—who are cheering it on.
For much of our early history we were a country that sanctioned owing human beings, raping them, killing them, working them to death, and separating their children from them and selling those children off, too.
Even after slavery ended, we were a country that ripped Native American children away from their families and warehoused them in boarding schools where they “had the Indian whipped right out of them.”
Taking children away from their parents and siblings seems about as American as apple pie. It is in our DNA.
Whenever talk of reparations for African-Americans comes up in the national conversation I hear a million versions of “I am not the one who owned slaves, why should I pay for it?” When tribes push for an official national apology for the treatment of native children I hear “I didn’t have anything to do with that—it was 100 years ago.”
Right now---this very morning--=something is being done in your name at the US-Mexico border. If it is something you support then you should simply carry on. But if you are one of the people saying “this is not who we are,” open your eyes. Yes. This is who a chunk of us are. And while that chunk is in charge these are the things they are doing IN YOUR NAME.
If you are outraged, show some outrage. If you live in a House district with a Republican representative, call their office and let them know this policy is unacceptable. Put the pressure on Congress. Donald Trump is proving to be as feckless and mean as I feared. He won’t change. The place to apply the pressure is Congress.
If you don’t know who your Representative is, click here and you can find out. If that person is a Republican, call her/him and tell them this policy of separating families is not okay and you will hold them accountable in November. They fear losing elections more than anything. Hold them accountable today.
Do it now. It might take a little time to get through, but it is worth it. This is who we are, but it does not have to be who we are tomorrow. We can make it stop by letting Congress know there are more of us then there are of the people who support this heartless policy.