As I consider the state of our Union, I think about the people who wish to come to the U.S. seeking the American Dream.
Recently our new President signed an executive order banning those who practice one of the oldest religions of the world, Islam, from entering the country. The ban, implemented this weekend, victimizes individuals of the Islamic faith, including a small child.
Below is a photo of the five-year-old Syrian refugee child holding a small baggie in her mouth. She’s unable to hold her baggie with her hands because her little arms and hands are bound behind her back with handcuffs. What makes this photo more egregious is what Sean Spicer had to say at his press briefing after the weekend flurry of arrests, detentions, and people with visas turned away at their departing airports.
When asked about the little girl, Spicer commented that just because the child in handcuffs is a little girl doesn’t preclude that she isn’t dangerous. What kind of man has such thoughts about an innocent kid? Too, what kind of lasting effect will this have on this young girl who stands with her back against the wall next to her parents?
Two Saturdays ago, I participated in the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. Protest marches are not foreign to me. In 1970, at the age of twenty-two, I moved from my parents’ home in New Jersey to the D.C. area. I grew up in a strict military family environment where no one was allowed to voice dissent against anything that was going on in the U.S., especially the Vietnam War. I held my feelings close to my vest during my last years under their roof. When I drove my car from New Jersey to D.C., I recall thinking, I’m going to do everything I was never allowed to do. I did indeed, including marching with thousands of anti-war advocates through the streets of Washington, D.C.
The job I moved to D.C. for was one with the U.S. Navy at the Pentagon. However, I soon left the Pentagon for a position at the Civil Rights Commission where I worked with some of the original freedom fighters from the Civil Rights Movement. Upon my written resignation, the Admiral I worked for called me into his office. I quietly listened as he tried to convince me that Communists populated the Commission.
I loved working with the Commission whose purpose is to protect all the civil liberties our great country espouses. My years in D.C. engrained within me a fierce tolerance for all people regardless of their gender, color, ethnicity or religious beliefs as well as those who did not lean toward religion. Diversity is the very fabric which makes our country so rich with complexity.
I think about Benjamin Franklin’s words.
As Franklin emerged from deliberations at the Constitution Conference of 1787, outside Independence Hall, a female called to Franklin asking, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Franklin’s words ring loud in my ears these days.
Franklin’s words, “If we can keep it,” feel urgently precarious in this year, 2017.
Just this morning as I ate my breakfast and watched Morning Joe on MSNBC, the group discussion turned to the death of Navy SEAL, Ryan Owens. The discussion surrounded criticism coming from the DOD.
Willie Geist began the discussion surrounding Trump’s trip with his daughter, Ivanka to attend Ryan’s funeral. Willie expounded on the Pentagon’s criticism surrounding the Yemen mission that killed the Navy SEAL and civilians, including an eight-year-old child. Pentagon officials criticized Trump for authorizing a poorly vetted mission where AL QAEDA detected the commando team.
Mark Halperin followed with, “You have some DOD officials saying this mission should never have been approved and that the President made a mistake. That is a very serious accusation, particularly since the first mission he authorized did result in a loss of life.” Halperin continued, “We’ve talked about a lot of stories today. This is in some ways the most important because it goes to the fact that you have people in the Pentagon who are willing to say that the Commander in Chief made a mistake and that it was not sufficiently vetted, and to make this point throughout the program, without a Defense Secretary in place for more than a few days with the Secretary of State just in place. It’s a serious time for the President to be making these kinds of decisions. And, if the accusations are true, it’s amongst the most serious charges ever leveled against him.”
Joe Scarborough finished the discussion by commenting that this is probably the new normal for people at the DOD and the CIA who are witnessing these types of things coming out of the Whitehouse.
Scarborough continued, “We’ve warned the Administration that if you cross the CIA and people in other agencies, including the State Department, they will cut you up. What was leaked to the NEW YORK TIMES, which again, this has been an extraordinary two weeks in.”
As I listened to the discussion, I wondered if Ryan Owen’s parents were aware of the complicity of the President regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of their son.
Halperin finished the discussion by mentioning that this comes on the back of Trump insulting the Australian Prime Minister, one of our closest allies, whom Trump hung up the phone in the middle of the conversation. Halperin also mentioned the conversation Trump later had with Mexico’s President.
AP released an excerpt of the transcript they obtained of the second conversation with President Pena Nieto. Trump warned in that conversation that he was ready to send U.S. troops to stop “bad hombres down there” unless the Mexican military does more to control them.
Mexico is one of our closest trade partners. Recently I heard the Mexican Trade Minister comment that millions of dollars flow from Mexico into the U.S. every second of every day.
WE HAVE A REPUBLIC IF WE CAN KEEP IT.