It’s funny how images from the television can stick with us. Since I was little, I’ve imagined all of us as a group of pretty, smiling people holding hands and walking side-by-side toward a common goal. I thought it was a Coke commercial, but I can’t find the ad. Regardless of the origin, the image remains in my mind decades later: us taking steps forward together, making plans and trying different ideas, crossing thresholds representing shared goals together toward a more perfect union.
We’re not always going to see “forward” as precisely the same direction, but one assumes we should agree sort of generally. I’ve come across this in my reading on social media a lot lately where some believe this proposed 900 or so miles of new wall on the southern border of the USA that the “president” shut down the government for is a ’14th Century solution to a 21st Century problem.’ That might be true if the problem that needed solving is illegal immigration into the USA.
Or undocumented immigrants taking jobs that Americans want (though if that were the case, we’d be arresting the employers who hire illegal immigrants, not the people desperate for this low-paying, back-breaking work).
Or the purported unusually high rate of crimes committed by people who are not in the United States legally.
As you read statistics, keep in mind that a large number of those picked up crossing the border are asylum-seekers, not people entering illegally, from South and Central America. These people are fleeing violence in their home countries, hoping for safety here. But those issues don’t represent a particularly serious or urgent problem for us so the old fashioned “solution” to a problem we really don’t have is moot. Why, then, the huge difference of opinion about our direction, about this proposed wall? To build it would be to move backward, the opposite direction of where we were heading together.
There was a time when people would say politicians of either major American party are the same, and in most ways they would be right. Where we used to mostly agree on what our problems are – we were heading in the generally the same direction toward the same goals – we often disagreed on which method would be best to solve a particular problem. In the last few decades, though, we’ve seen the parties drift apart in many ways, heading in very different directions. Even basic facts, knowable truths we all agree on, have changed. We have an entire party that lives by propaganda, values opinion over all, a group that denies axiomatic truth. As a party, they have crossed that line into a sort of fantasy world with no tether to reality. The current regime has their own sort of State TV that puts out their propaganda, and their supporters watch and read and listen only to the people and “news” sources who’ll tell them what they want to hear from the regime. It matters not whether the “information” they take in has any basis in fact.
“Truth isn’t truth.” – Rudy Giuliani, legal adviser to 45th president
As a country, as a society, we’ve lost sight of our goals together, lost our direction and momentum; nearly one third of the country can no longer see the problems we face in reality. With their leader’s encouragement, they’re off thinking up solutions for problems we don’t have (ignoring the big stuff like income inequality, health care, pushing our allies away). And they are adamant that we fund those solutions for them. In this case, we’re back to that wall. They are pulling the line of smiling, happy, hand-holding Americans backward.
GOP supporters, approximately 26% of the population, are convinced there is an illegal immigration problem that warrants building a $25 billion+ wall in addition to all the border security (and I.C.E.) we taxpayers already fund. Never mind that immigration is way down, and has been since about 2007; they want something done. To be fair, part of the reason they believe this lie is because Trump tells it. Often. And his listeners can’t be bothered to check to learn whether or not he’s telling them the truth. But we don’t just do something, anything, to say we did something.
Not that that is what is happening with the wall. GOP and supporters make excuses for why they want the wall. Meanwhile, the real reason Trump says he wants it is because it’s a rallying point. Trump doesn’t want to stop illegal immigration. If he did that, who would work in his shitty hotels? No, he talks about the wall because it gets ignorant, hateful people to cheer for him. And if he can actually sucker those people into building this eyesore, all the better, because maybe he can put his name on it, too.
This month the GOP and Democrats had agreed on a budget. 45 had backed off on his demand for $5 billion to start his wall (though he’s keeping the hostages; his friends are making a killing on fees to house them in Trump’s concentration camps and other private facilities). But then some of the “president’s” “advisers” on television told him to hold out for a wall. So he shut down the government. Federal workers were out of work for Christmas because some TV personalities convinced our fool of a “president” to build his wall. For television ratings.
Americans who are in a hurry to do something about the problem they dreamed up are now contributing money, millions of dollars, to a fund run by a scammer because they actually believe this guy, Brian Kolfage, has the power to build a wall on the southern border.
If all the reasons for the wall are lies, then why are people so excited to build it? The first clue is their freak-out about “illegals.” The second was their disinterest in facts surrounding this expensive waste of taxpayer-dollars.
In the end, the bullshit reasons/excuses are ways around saying the real reason they want a wall: they’re racists, and they want to build a monument to their bigotry, a huge symbol of their hate and xenophobia to make them feel less afraid, tangible evidence of validation for their sick reaction to fear. You see, they’re afraid of “others,” afraid everyone can see they’re mediocre and weak, and afraid of having to face the fact that their irrational fear and ignorance are wrong and bad for everyone. Including themselves.
A new wall would solve no problem and serve no purpose. No matter how much talk we hear of dimensions and materials and such, the one thing that remains the same is the base material, the main building block in this project: hate.
Government employees and their families working unpaid through the holidays should not have to pay for the president and a small contingent of his supporters being racist shitbags. The contractors who depend on the government being open and honoring their contracts also shouldn’t have to pay for this xenophobia.
It’s time to get the grown-ups back into our government. It’s time to recognize the problems we face as a nation and then work to solve those problems. It’s time we all recognize the same facts as facts. Why don’t people check Trump when he makes all his claims about an “invasion force” of immigrants, including Middle-Easterners, in a “caravan” flooding into the USA over our southern border? Why don’t they check his claims about drugs and crime? They don’t check because they want to believe what the “president” tells them. Their fear and ignorance means it “feels” true. They don’t want “border security.” We already have that. What the racists think they want is their wall; they want another monument to hate. They expect us to pay for it. They can fuck off.
I expect that when we dig deep into the problems our country and society faces, we’ll find the root to be bigotry in almost every case. Contrary to the Christian religion so many claim as their own, these pro-wall Americans are filled to overflowing with homegrown hate, fear, selfishness, and apathy toward people in trouble. They don’t care why these people are fleeing to the USA and Mexico. It doesn’t matter to them that we helped cause the problems these asylum-seekers are running from. It doesn’t matter that these people need help and have the legal right to ask us for that help.
There comes a time when you step up to a goal and stop. You stop to decide if you’ll take that next step, cross that line, whether it’s a border or a barrier, physical or ideological. I return to that lovely image of all of us taking steps together.
We’ve walked together to this point, but here we must stop. I’ve been patient as many in our group pull the line backward. I’ve been kind. I’ve tried to point out errors, not differences of opinion, but errors, in judgment, in identifying the problems we face, in placing blame on groups of “others” rather than recognizing people who need our help.
I’m not suggesting, like Ronald Reagan did, that we open up our borders. I’ve honestly not heard any Democrats in office suggesting it, only Reagan. I’m suggesting that we recognize where our problems are – in denying rights to immigrants, in not keeping promises to our DREAMers and other immigrants, in holding people in concentration camps, in privatizing any of this, our abuse of “other” human beings – and work to fix those actual problems.
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” ― James Baldwin
Speak up when people suggest that we just compromise and give the GOP some money for a wall because “we can just tear it down later.” How’s that tearing down old monuments to hate and treason working, so far? Heather Heyer died during one of those attempts. That beautiful person is gone; the Confederate monument remains as a public display of our hate and our reverence for a traitor, for abuse of human beings.
I will not compromise to accommodate their hate and ignorance.
Here, we draw the line in the sand. We will not take one more step backward to cross over that line.
Besides, with all the things we could do for Americans with $5-25 billion (five being the figure they insist on to start, the reason the government is closed right now, and 25 being the estimate for total costs for the new stretch(es) of border wall), why would it seem like a good idea to anyone to spend it on a monument we’re just going to tear down when reasonable people are back in elected offices? Why cross that line to hate together? Knowing how hard it is to reverse course, to turn forward again, once we’ve crossed that line?
Stand for what is right. Stand for love always but especially in the face of hate. Make “pay it forward” a way of life. Don’t wait for someone to be kind to you. Start it. This is the ideal time to make up our minds, to step together across the line in front of us instead of the one at our backs, the one that leads to another monument to hate. Instead of building walls, let’s join hands and hearts to build bridges and ladders.
The success of our country, our people, depends on us resisting fear and ignorance at every turn. What we do (or don’t do) now matters. Choose love. Wage peace. E pluribus unum.
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Thanks so much for sharing your valuable time with me and reading what I have to say. I wish you love and peace in the coming year. Take my hand and together we’ll step forward.
Link: “THE WALL: The real costs of a barrier between the United States and Mexico” – by Vanda Felbab-Brown at The Brookings Institute. I highly recommend this essay.
Link: “U.S. Unauthorized Immigrant Total Dips to Lowest Level in a Decade” – Pew Research Center
Link: “Solar-powered drug tunnel discovered on Mexican border with California” – The Guardian
Link: Summer Camp – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Good People – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link to original Tweet from Adam Schiff.
Link to original Tweet from Mikel Jollett.
#WagePeace #ChooseLove #GMCrossTheLine #NoWall #NoHate #Resist #OnlyLove