‘They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.’ – Benjamin Franklin
Has the above quote lost all meaning in 21st century America?
The headline reads:
TENNESSEE LAWMAKERS SUBMIT BILL THAT WOULD GIVE CIVIL IMMUNITY TO DRIVERS WHO HIT PROTESTERS –
The bill states: “A person driving an automobile who is exercising due care and injures another person who is participating in a protest or demonstration and is blocking traffic in a public right-of-way is immune from civil liability for such injury.”
The bill was introduced to the state senate by Republican Senator Bill Ketron, and in the House by Republican Representative Matthew Hill. Need I say more?
Think Progress tracked hate crimes in the U.S. for the three-month period since Trump’s election. While it is true that there have always been crimes against certain groups of people, notably Jews, African-Americans, LGBT, Muslims and Hispanics, the increase during this three-month period is eye-opening. And sadly, predictable.
The report is narrower in focus than that of Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):
“Our standard for a hate incident was very specific, and the bar for inclusion on our list was high. We only tracked occurrences targeted against individuals or communities, which means that we did not cite the numerous instances of vague but unmistakably hateful speech scrawled in public places across the country. We also required accounts to be backed up by a news article, a police report, or an original investigation by ThinkProgress.”
An interactive map provides details by state.
I don’t have to wonder when it became acceptable for people to think they are better, more deserving, than others. When the leadership of a nation utters hate speech, refers to human beings as “bad hombres” and “illegals”, it sends a signal to those who already feel a sense of entitlement. This, my friends, is what this nation is becoming.
An excerpt from a Facebook post by a friend who teaches at a school in Arizona:
“Today, one my students asked me, “Mr. Bell, What am I to do if I go home and my mom is no longer there because she has been deported? You said he couldn’t deport all of us but I am afraid my parents will be next.” I had no answer for this student. I wanted to say everything is going to be ok, but I can’t say that any longer. I can’t guarantee anything for this student. This fear hasn’t been under just this president but the previous as well. But the talk and action is so real and so scary right now.
Its one thing to see this all play out, hear people say “Build The Wall” or refer to people as ‘illegal’ and not have any personal connection to someone impacted by it. But to experience it with students you love and care so much for makes it so real and frightening for me, as their teacher.”
Trump has pledged to deport as many as 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records, and last week the raids began in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Kansas, Texas and Northern Virginia. Under President Obama, such raids also occurred, but targeted only immigrants with felony convictions. As noted last year by FiveThirtyEight, there aren’t 3 million immigrants with criminal records. Unless … one expands the definition of ‘criminal’. According to a report by the Department of Homeland Security, there are roughly 1.9 million non-citizen immigrants who have been convicted of crimes.
On 25 January, Trump signed an ‘executive order’ to expand the definition of a criminal to include anyone the authorities believe has broken any type of law — regardless of whether that person has been charged with a crime. It is ambiguous and leaves much to individual interpretation. Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), says, “We’re talking about people who are threats to public safety or a threat to the integrity of the immigration system.” However, of the 160 people arrested in Los Angeles alone, 10 had no criminal record and several had only misdemeanors or traffic violations.
I will address this in more depth at a later date, as more firm information becomes available, but for now it is enough to say that for immigrants, even those who are here legally, this is a time of fear.
In Austin, Tex., undocumented women working in a laundromat cowered in the back of the room, petrified after seeing a video and a photograph of apprehensions outside a local grocery store and burger joint.
A day laborer and mechanic in Staten Island told his 17-year-old son where the list of emergency contacts were, including the name of the guardian who would take responsibility for him and his two younger siblings.
In Savannah, Ga., undocumented restaurant workers were asking for rides rather than walking home, afraid they might be stopped and questioned. – New York Times, 10 February 2017
While I certainly do not support allowing convicted felons roaming free, whether immigrants or citizens, I find it abhorrent that in the interest of “keeping our country safe”, we are willing to arrest and deport the innocent, to sacrifice our humanity.
The three above stories all highlight the same thing: that we are becoming a nation of people inured to the needs of our fellow humans. Not all of us, to be sure, but enough. Too many. Too many are willing to live in a nation where one egomaniac can spread hate against human beings. And let’s face it, folks … we are all members of one race: the human race. Those who forget that, who think they are somehow better or more deserving, have traded their humanity for something else … I know not what.