A president who paints with broad brushes across an entire region or religion echoes loudly from the past. We must say, “not this time.”
WE are a refugee country. Welcoming the stranger is woven into the fabric of our American story. And we are not going back to the 1930s.
We have a moral obligation to make our voices heard for those who are being persecuted today and whose voices are systematically being diminished day by day — one strike of the presidential pen after another. We must not let our founding values come under assault without speaking out. Our ancestors fought too hard for those values. There is a price we pay for our freedom and at minimum it is to be informed and active citizens.
We need to remember what is in our spiritual DNA given to us as a legacy by our ancestors. Given to us by the fights they fought. The dreams they dreamed. And the hills they died on.
Those who, like my uncle, stormed the beaches and liberated the camps. Those who fought in Fallujah and Kabul. Those who marched for civil rights. Those who stood up for women’s rights or marriage equality. All those people who believed in the greatest dream of our country. A dream of freedom, equality, honesty and integrity. A belief that in this country, with determination and commitment, anything is possible.
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These memories are in our bones. And we need to carry these bones into this new fight. A fight that will define our generation. Our ancestors are with us and they are urging us on. Those who were pursued, and those who fought in the forests. Those who rose up, those who were marched off.
They are with us as we are with all those vulnerable in our community and our country who feel under assault. Today, it is the refugee, but tomorrow it will be the poor, the LGBTQ community, the disabled and our children’s future. We cannot sit this out.
This is a fight against a different kind of terrorism — the singling out of a population of American citizens. And it makes us all unsafe. I have witnessed the fear on the faces and in the voices of those we serve — the anxiety, confusion and despair. Refugees and immigrants who say, “Why is this happening to us?” A president who paints with broad brushes across an entire region or religion in a Western country echoes loudly from the past.
Call it what you will, but the result is the same — a gradual undoing of the very things that make this country great. And we must say, “not this time.”
We have arms — we must lift them. We have voices — we must raise them. And we have legs, and we must stand up. We must stand together. Together, as Christians, Jews, Muslims and atheists. And every persecuted community that sought refuge in this country. We are white, black, brown. We are straight, we are gay. We stand together and side by side.
We must stand as citizens of this country to protect our most sacred values. We stand as citizens with rights, and we must exercise them. And we stand with responsibilities, and we must accept them. We must not stand idly by. We must never be bystanders again!