In a recent interview with Jake Tapper of CNN trying to defend his indefensible comments regarding Gonzalo Curiel, a native born American of Mexican heritage, who is the federal judge overseeing the lawsuit against Trump University, Trump repeatedly proclaimed, “I am building a wall.”
That comment struck us as odd in that Trump is not building a wall. He is talking about building a wall. Moreover, if a wall was ever to be built, Trump himself would not build it.
Then, the more we thought about it, we came to understand that for once Mr. Trump is being accurate in his pronouncements. He is indeed building a wall.
That wall is one of bigotry, hatred and divisiveness between the American people and America and much of the rest of the world. This is no small feat. But, it is a mean feat and a demeaning one for our nation and its citizens.
If past is prologue in this presidential election year, and we see no reason given Trump’s personality and psychological profile that it will not be, he will continue to build that wall to make it higher, thicker and uglier.
Well, the presumptive nominee is now President Trump and in his first full week in office, he did manage to make that wall “higher, thicker and uglier”. He accomplished this through his twitter messages; chaotic performance in selected venues including a self-serving speech at the CIA; and, executive orders to start building a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico and to put a temporary “ban” on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
The media has devoted much attention to all of these efforts directed at bringing chaos out of order and we are certain that it will continue to do so. There are legitimate concerns on all fronts including: Is the general chaos intentional or is it a sign of incompetence? Who will pay for the wall? Is the Muslim “ban” legal?
We have those same concerns as well. But, our two overriding concerns relate to the long-term impact and unintended consequences (we hope) of this wall. They are: What does this wall do to the image and status of America around the world? And, what does the wall do to the image and status of minorities and Muslims here in the United States?
In terms of the world view, the wall makes the Statue of Liberty invisible. It puts the lie to the words inscribed at its base,
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!”
The wall isolates the United States and makes this proud country into an island unto itself. It blocks the light from this beacon of democracy and creates a leadership power vacuum on the world stage.
In this country, the wall denies the veritable truth that the United States is an immigrant nation. It divides us by race, religion and region.
The wall contradicts the constitutional concept of religious freedom. It targets Muslims as a group rather than focusing on the radical terrorists who are hijacking and misrepresenting a religion to justify their barbaric acts.
The wall keeps fear in. It promotes ignorance, bigotry and bias.
The question is what to do about this wall. To borrow a phrase from President Ronald Reagan, we need to “tear down this wall.”
Who are we? We are concerned citizens who love this country. We are people of good will who won’t be just another brick in the wall. We are patriots, if you will, committed to protecting our American values and the opportunity for all to pursue the American dream.
How do we tear down that wall? By standing up, speaking out, and taking actions in the areas and on the issues that matter most to keeping America great and to the future of all of its citizens.
Those areas and issues will differ for each of us. But, our method of involvement should not.
Episcopal priest, Michael K. March provides an excellent rationale and recommendation for how to be involved in a “Thank You Note to President Trump” that he recently posted on his website, Interrupting the Silence.
Father March writes,
Regardless of what may come of the rest of your presidency, I consider it a success at least in terms of what you have done for me. You have awakened me to see more clearly the reality of violence and darkness that lives not only in America but in the human heart, my heart included. You have helped me see America’s addiction to and romance with violence – whether that violence is grounded in war, crime, poverty, economics, politics, language, discrimination, or entertainment. You have shown me that far too often violence is profitable and brings out the vote. You have reminded me that the way forward is nonviolence and nonviolent resistance. I already knew this but I now know it again, as if for the first time, and in a new way. I am grateful. Thank you.
Can nonviolence still work in a violent world? We addressed that question in a blog that we posted in January of 2015 in which we wrote:
Frank Islam is on the advisory board of the U.S. Institute for Peace — an organization devoted to the nonviolent prevention and mitigation of deadly conflict around the globe. Frank also just received the Martin Luther King Legacy Award for International Service.
Given our predispositions, we both would like to see all dangerous differences and disputes resolved in a nonviolent manner. The hard truth is this is absolutely impossible to do with those who wage war on humanity and decency and are unwilling to negotiate on anything.
Force and other means will be required in order to create the necessary conditions for nonviolence to come into play as a viable tool. Those conditions are: a state of peace, the rule of law, a democratic or participative society and responsible officials in positions of power with the character and courage to recognize inequities and to correct them.
The United States of America has those necessary conditions. At least, it still does at this point in time.
But, that “higher, thicker, uglier” wall, if it continues to get even higher, thicker, and uglier, could change all that. That’s why we need to begin tearing it down now before it’s too late. It’s our civic responsibility, as Donald Trump called us in his inaugural address, as the “rulers of this nation.”