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What kind of America do we want?

 

Last updated 7/29/2019 at 7:25am



Watching the throngs of Americans chanting “send her back” as our president basked in their message of support for his tweet made me sick at heart and has caused many sleepless nights.

It also has me reflecting on a sign I saw recently. It had two images; one was a close shot of Lady Liberty holding her torch up to the sky to welcome immigrants – the other of hundreds of men carrying torches through the streets of Charlottesville while chanting “Jews shall not replace us!” The sign had a pointed question across the bottom: “Which torch do you support?”

Both events send chilling messages about what kind of America we have and want. One is the America I know and love, filled with people from all corners of the world who make our culture richer through its diversity. I think of the people I’ve known, of my friends from China, Uganda, India, Guatemala, Iraq, Mexico, and Ethiopia, all who are proud to be American now and so appreciative of the freedom it brings.

Although I’ve never asked, I am certain they all have been told at some point to “go back to where you came from,” yet they are decent, hardworking, passionate citizens who believe in this democracy and want our nation to fulfill its promise of equality to all its citizens. They’re Buddhists, Christians, Hindis, Jews and Muslims, a wonderful freedom they cherish… The other is an America of white supremacy, of resentments and blame on those not descended from “white” nations who want the “others” of color to leave, who stoke fear of those who look different from them, who support the cruelty now imposed on children and those seeking asylum or refuge. The white nationalists basically want America to be white again… This America frightens me to the core. I fear we’re losing our soul and our moral compass is askew. These sentiments that use to be regarded as shameful and racist and were hidden behind hoods or only whispered in secret, are now in full display on the internet, television, in our streets and from our president.

If you criticize his policies or the president, you are un-American, can’t possibly love this country and should go back to where you came from. But our founding fathers believed dissent was a noble form of patriotism – and that criticism and oversight of our leaders was essential to a strong republic.

If you’re unsure which America you want, please listen to President Reagan’s final speech before leaving office as he spoke about our immigrant heritage and our nation’s amazing promise to all people from all nations who come here seeking a better life. Perhaps his words will help you decide which torch represents the America you wish to live in. I hope you choose wisely, for the sake of the America I love.

Kathy Ford

 

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