|Lady Liberty weeps|
Since the mass murders in Paris on November 13th by ISIS terrorists, U.S. presidential candidates have wasted no time in taking (or not) a position on how America can best protect itself against a similar attack. Megalomaniac and everyone's favorite xenophobe Donald Trump wasted no time in bloviating his rational, well thought out, and humane position (because that's how everything he says is positioned, right?):
Establishing a national registry for all Muslims living in the United States
Wait...what? Read that again and let what that means sink in.
In one savage blast of hot air, Trump has legitimized bigotry and hatred on a national scale. The last I checked, bigotry and hatred were not included in the list of principles upon which this nation was founded. If I missed that chapter in my high school US History course, would someone please let me know.
The thought of a national registry for any group should send shudders of fear through the collective soul of our nation. The Nazis began registering Jews in western Europe in the 1930's. Property was seized, Stars of David were sewn into people's clothing, books were burned, and when all was said and done, six million, that is six million Jews, Eastern Europeans, gays, POWs, and other 'undesirable' non-Aryans were horrifically slaughtered. In spite of that abominable history, in what is staggeringly unthinkable, plenty of Americans don't seem to have an issue with Trump's declaration.
Well, I do. So does the Rabbi Joshua Stanton. In a piece for the Huffington Post, Rabbi Stanton says to Trump, "...if you do intend to target Muslims in in a national registry (or worse), please register me too." I echo Rabbi Stanton's rallying cry. This madness cannot be allowed to stand. So, Mr. Trump, I ask you, where do I register? I will not stand by as my Muslim brothers and sisters are made targets of your xenophobic madness.
Although it has been more than one hundred and seventy seven years since it happened, members of my own faith were under an extermination order issued by the governor of Missouri. Make no mistake, this was not an effort to rid their homes of pests. This was government-endorsed murder. In order to survive, those early members of the Church fled Missouri, eventually settling, albeit temporarily, in Illinois, before they once again fled their country before murderous mobs. These people were blamed for all manner of chicanery and only saw survival in the solace of the uncharted territory of the United States. They were unwelcome in their own country, fall guys for things totally outside of their control.
In the wake of Paris, Syrian refugees have become the fall guy for those attacks, for which they had no control. Governors of several states have declared these refugees as unwelcome. With those actions, we are betraying the very words of Emma Lazarus' poem, "The New Colossus," that have adorned the Statue of Liberty since 1903:
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "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-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Are there any exceptions in that second stanza? I don't read any that says, "...except for those of you who are willing to risk your lives and see your children drown in an attempt to flee a murderous regime." We cannot turn our backs on these people. I absolutely endorse doing everything in our power to turn back those who would destroy us. But how can we turn our back on those who have been "tempest-tost?" The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recently said the following in a statement on the xenophobic reaction to the Syrian refugee crisis:
"While recognizing that security concerns must be fully addressed,
we should not turn our backs on the thousands of refugees."
When we visited the Museum last Christmas, at the end of the tour, there was an absolutely searing exhibit of photographs from the Syrian refugee crisis. If you'd seen it, you'd be asking Mr. Trump where you could register in order to stand with your Muslim brothers and sisters. I'd ask if Trump has seen it but since the Museum does not bear his name nor offer a branding opportunity for him, I don't think he'll be dropping by any time soon.