So, now, it’s all over, right? We don’t have to be concerned about the children any more, right? There was a brief period of political upheaval and separation of families and children crying for their parents and mothers crying for their children – but, now we have an Executive Order that makes everything better – right? Wrong! For one thing, the Executive Order says nothing about the children already in custody and a White House spokesperson has stated that there are no plans to try to unite already-separated family members. Also, if you read the actual text of the Executive Order, there are many loopholes and undefined terms – this is not a solution to the problems caused by the “zero tolerance” policy of the current administration … nor is there any indication that the administration intends to stop its policy of ignoring pleas for asylum and treating asylum-seekers like common criminals.
If a bully has been beating up a small child at school every day, then eventually promises to not do it any more, does that change what has happened? Does it heal the bruises both inside and outside? Does it mean the bullied child is no longer afraid? No, it does not. Once trust is broken, it might be patched, but it will never been the same as it was before.
The important thing is to do no harm – this is part of religious teachings, as well as part of the Hippocratic Oath. Harm has been done – harm that cannot be totally repaired. There is, of course, the harm to the children who will always remember their feelings of loss and fear, regardless of what happens to them in the future. There is also the harm to the standing and reputation of the United States, both in the world and in the deepest hearts of Americans.
The fact is that, for however brief a time, the United States engaged in forced separation of families and incarceration of children (under whatever term you want to use) – and THAT is against everything the USA has ever stood for and everything the “American Dream” has ever meant, both to Americans and to the world. It DOES matter that the world has always (although, sadly, not now) looked to America as what Ronald Reagan called the “shining city on a hill.” Read, again, his words upon his election eve:
Others say … in a time when our values, when our place in history is so seriously questioned, they say Americans want their sons and daughters to see what is still for them and for so many other millions in the world a city offering the “last best hope of man on earth!”
These visitors to that city on the Potomac do not come as white or black, red or yellow; they are not Jews or Christians; conservatives or liberals; or Democrats or Republicans. They are Americans awed by what has gone before, proud of what for them is still…a shining city on a hill…
Let us resolve tonight that young Americans will always see those Potomac lights; that they will always find there a city of hope in a country that is free. And let us resolve they will say of our day and our generation that we did keep faith with our God, that we did act “worthy of ourselves;” that we did protect and pass on lovingly that shining city on a hill.
Not “white or black, red or yellow…not Jews or Christians; conservatives or liberals; or Democrats or Republicans” – Do you hear those words from history? Can you understand how far America has strayed from these words spoken by a Republican? Can you imagine any Republican today saying these words? He understood that the American Dream is important, not only to Americans of all persuasions, but also to “many other millions in the world” … he understood that the world – the entire world and all its people – need an idea, an Ideal, like America to give hope to youth and a vision for the future. (I never thought I would see the day when I would point to Ronald Reagan as an example of freedom and diversity – but, then, I also never thought I’d see the day when the US would elect a wanna-be dictator and Nazi-friend to the White House!)
Political pressure works! The power of the American voice remains strong and should never fade. It was the thousands of phone calls and emails and chants that caused the issuance of the June 20 Executive Order, ostensibly “walking back” the policy of family separation at the US-Mexican border. The proposed budget passed by the Republican House while the world’s attention was focused on the children shows that these children were not only hostages to “the wall” but also hostages to the power of the desire for more money. (Note that “private contracts” for the children’s “facilities” run through 2022 …you can bet that friends of the administration are making a lot of money from this situation – and will for some time to come.)
Bishop Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Do not remain neutral – people who were “neutral” and “sat out” the 2016 election are largely responsible for our current crisis situation. I do not lay total blame for the election on those Americans who truly believed in Donald Trump’s empty promises and wanted to see a better economic situation for them and their children; their ideas are different from mine, but they voted in accordance with what they thought – and, most important, they DID vote. (I do find the “value system” of a society filled with hate and prejudice to be personally repugnant and pray that those who espouse it will come to understand the beauty of a diverse, pluralistic society, but I will not equate all Trump voters with Nazis.) No, the blame for the 2016 election lies on those who held themselves “aloof” and refused to vote “beneath their principles” rather than use their votes as they were intended – to preserve our society and our way of life.
Please don’t vote Straight Red in November, but don’t just “vote Blue” either: vote “Red, White and Blue” — what I mean is: vote like a “true” American…someone who values liberty, freedom and the rights of all people — THAT’S the American way and THAT’S the true path to greatness!