We saw it. We wanted it. How dare anyone be on our land before we got here?!? So we took it by force. Force, bloodshed, inhumanity, cruelty, hubris, and ego.
It is how we operated then, it is still largely how we operate now. We throw our weight around the world and expect the world to just take it because, well, we're us, aren't we?
Now, that's not to say that as a country we are all bad. We're not. Yes, our history contains warts, cancers, tumors, growing pains, missteps, gross inhumanity, ignorance, and callous disregard for others. But is also contains the lessons learned from those chapters, the lessons that helped us shape up, grow up, take stock, and find a moral center, as it were.
Nowhere is that more evident than on the statue gifted us by France - at the base of the statue, the words of poet Emma Lazarus find a home, and basically open the doors of this nation up to those seeking a home:
"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 statue was gifted as a symbol of the alliance developed with them through the Revolutionary War. (Students of Hamilton completely understand that connection now.) She stands tall, graceful, hopeful, undaunted. The broken shackles that are around her base are meant to represent freedom from oppression and tyranny.
Year after year, this country welcomed and was built by immigrants "yearning to breathe free," immigrants fleeing "oppression and tyranny". We all came from somewhere else. All of us. Had our great great greats not gotten on boats, we would not be here. It is that simple.
But as is human nature, and hubris nature, as the years flew past and more generations from those immigrants were born on this soil, we began to get selfish. We stopped being so welcoming. We started giving side eye to those "tempest tossed", throwing shade at that "wretched refuse."
Basically we got ours, so fuck off.
Politicians found that attitude to be easily exploited. They began pointing fingers at those who came from somewhere else. Casting aspersions on those whose skin color, religion, culture were not of the cream cheese-boring-bland-Americana variety. And finally, exploiting tragedy as a way to completely demonize them all.
They managed to take the very word that founded this nation and turn it into something ugly, feared: IMMIGRANT.
They have placed the blame for every bad thing - crime, unemployment rate, all terrorism - at their feet. Ask the typical Trump loving GOP dullard and they will happily regurgitate any number of alternative facts that have no basis in reality. No matter, they believe the bullshit and lies, so it's true.
Which is why the Executive Order signed last Friday by Bannon Trump was so easy to implement. Fraught as it is with illegalities and constitutional carnage, it still got hastily rolled out to hideous effect.
Protests grew at airports immediately. Lawyers came offering their services to those landing and finding themselves completely targeted and screwed. Stories were posted one after another of families separated - a 5 year old in handcuffs, an 11 month old still breastfeeding separated from his mother for HOURS. Legal residents denied entry. VISA holders threatened with deportation.
All under the guise of "keeping us safe."
Which is utter and complete bullshit. That list of countries happens to conveniently leave out the ones where actual terrorists have come from because Trump has massive business holdings in those places.
A judge issued a stay Friday night - citing the complete unconstitutionality of this mess. No matter - this garbage still played out as ignorant immigration officials at airports began refusing to comply with the court order, denying those detained access to the attorneys, and even turning away Congressmen and women who showed up to try to get the stay enforced.
All of this is dangerous because it points to an administration showing no regard for the rule of law, the checks and balances built into our governance, and absolutely no regard or understanding of the actual CONSTITUTION.
What is most glaring to me, however, is the blatant hypocrisy scripted into this E.O. Trump and his cabinet of flying monkeys are all noted bigots, racists, theocrats - their stances, views, words all out there for anyone to hear, see, read. Yet these words sit in the first section of the conditions of this ban:
The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including "honor" killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.
The tone deafness and hypocrazy is stunning.
By those very words, their words, none of them should be allowed in this country. The GOP is a cabal of those who openly persecute anyone not Christian. A fraternity which openly disparages and discriminates against women. A cesspool of bigots who believe in conversion therapy, think gay people should be jailed, that transgender people are NOT people. This administration is peopled with white nationalists, racists, the intellectually incurious, and Bible bangers who only acknowledge their religion as being the right religion.
Hypocrites who decry Muslim American women who wear a hijab, yet who have no problem with nuns in habits, and any number of branches on the Christianity tree in which women must wear dresses, are not allowed to cut their hair, cannot wear make-up, are allowed no voice in their marriages or churches or lives. Is that not oppression? Or does it simply get a pass because Jesus?
News for you - Jesus appears prominently in the Quran.
And if "Christian" women can choose to wear a habit or a long dress as a requirement of their faith, why is is not ok for a Muslim woman to honor her faith by wearing a hijab? Why does that illicit such a violent response when scores of women wearing veils to Catholic mass does not?
Rhetorical question - the answers being ignorance and fear - all actively, sickening stoked daily by the GOP.
While I am heartened by the mass protests taking place not only in this country but abroad, I fear for what comes next. All the protests in the world will not keep the next E.O. from endangering LGBTQIA people, or targeting tabernacles, or black people, or more brown people, or students, scientists, professors, journalists, citizens who vocally oppose this rapidly forming hellscape. These E.O.s are further emboldening the ugliest and most ignorant in our country, making them feel safe, justified even, in striking out at those with darker skin color, burning down mosques, assaulting Muslim women in the hijab.
How inconvenient for them all that the mass shooting at a mosque in Canada was carried out by a Trump loving, immigrant hating, white nationalist - not the brown stereotype they have been taught to fear. Hell, they won't even call him a terrorist - FOX, Breitbart, et al - referring to him as a "lone wolf." Um, no - he is a terrorist - and he is one of yours.
I know we outnumber those who put this reprobate into office. But unless those with the power to enforce the checks, balances, and constitution do not stand up now, this country is doomed.
It has only been 12 days.
In 12 days the doomsday clock has moved forward. In 12 days we have watched citizens denied entry into this country. In 12 days we have seen Trump self aggrandize at every turn, and take every breath with a white supremacist at his side. In 12 days we have been downgraded from a full democracy to a flawed democracy, joining countries such as Poland, Italy, and Mongolia. In 12 days we have become a shameful laughingstock.
And in 12 days we have completely turned the Statue of Liberty into a statement of glaring hypocrisy.
To pull from the lyrics in Hamilton, this truly is our only hope - WE MUST:
When you’re living on your knees, you rise up
Tell your brother that he’s gotta rise up
Tell your sister that she's gotta rise up
The world needs to see what has truly made us good, a beacon of hope to so many. We cannot allow that lamp to burn out.