On July 4 every year, most of us gather with family and friends to celebrate our country’s birth (and enjoy the fireworks). But this year, for some of us, things were different.
Our country’s ideals, as declared in the Declaration of Independence and our world-esteemed Constitution, are still worthy of more than annual celebration.
Valuing everyone’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Guaranteeing equal treatment and equal opportunity for all. Providing a melting pot for immigrants seeking to better the lives of themselves and their children amidst freedom and a constitutional democracy.
All because our Founding Fathers dared to dream, their descendants treasured those dreams, and subsequent Americans shared their dreams and resulting bounty with others in need.
No more. On social media, many brag of their desire to ignore, and even imprison, refugees and immigrants in need. They dismiss as snowflakes those who have respect and compassion for poor immigrants and even for poor Americans.
They applaud the President’s desire to take away insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions from America’s ill, despite the inevitability of resulting deaths. They see white mass murderers arrested alive by the police, unarmed black children and adults killed by the police, and are too blind or prejudiced to even question such tragically different results.
They fear 2 billion Muslims as jihadists, as the president encourages, when even Fox News admits that only 0.005% percent of Muslims are jihadists.
When the president orders the “No Mercy” ripping of children from their immigrant parents’ arms, they defend him or remain silent, accepting his word that he is merely enforcing a law he cannot change.
But when he demonstrates that no law required such atrocities, by revoking that horrific policy that he alone initiated, they ignore his prior lies and instead congratulate him for making the world a better place.
Many Christian religious leaders praise a president who prefers building fences to welcoming the stranger as Jesus preached.
Some white religious leaders see the discomfort among their white flock at soon becoming a minority in the U.S. So they remain silent as this president declares some Nazis to be “good and fine people.”
They support his Muslim ban. They support the president’s call to have ICE storm troopers send immigrants and refugees back to their country of origin without judicial review.
So what if it violates our Constitution. So what if it returns people to the promised death from which they fled with their children.
These same so-called religious leaders applaud the president publicizing rare crimes committed by illegal immigrants against Americans, just as Hitler publicized rare crimes committed by Jews against Germans.
Dangerous leaders know that if they can unite enough people against those “others,” and flame the fear of those “others,” then those leaders can get otherwise good people to unite behind horrific government acts against the “others.” Acts like ripping children from their parents’ arms.
So what if illegal immigrants are far less likely to commit crimes in the U.S. than American citizens. So what if only 0.005 percent of the world’s Muslims are jihadists.
Some people prefer to believe the flaming of fear and hate by a man who impartial fact-checkers have shown lies and attempts to deceive us over six times daily, every day throughout his presidency.
They prefer uniting with others behind artificially-fanned fear and prejudice. Against brown immigrants. Against Muslims. Against blacks. He even manages to get many of us to ignore the incredible harm his tariffs will do to our farmers and our rural communities.
And, as the auto and motorcycle industry has in effect told him, “Please don’t help us, Mr. President. We may not survive your so-called help.”
(You know, if any of his prior opponents had the President’s charisma, he would now justly be known by us all as Lyin’ Donnie and as his supporters’ Betrayer-in-Chief.)
The American people deserve the truth. But what we enjoy hearing most is often not the truth, but lies intended to make us feel right and smart and good, no matter where on the political spectrum we are.
What does this mean? First, it means ignoring most of what lying liberal MSNBC reports just as much as ignoring most of what lying conservative Fox News reports. But we owe our country, and our families, so much more than respect for the truth, and demanding the truth from those who ignore truth daily.
We must also recognize that our Founding Fathers were not fearful men. And we are not descended from fearful people.
Let us remember and emulate their example. We cannot be manipulated into fearing and hating the chosen “others” of this administration, as Germans were by a former administration. We are smarter than that; we are braver than that. Aren’t we? Aren’t you?
Carl Kiss is a semi-retired attorney who lives in Enterprise.