Thursday, July 5, 2018

Sundered Identity


Our nation celebrated its birth last night.  Amid music and revelry and fireworks, we commemorated the birth of a nation.  Did we remember what the defining values of that nation were?

"Send me your tired and your poor...your huddled massed yearning to breathe free."  No more, it seems.  Not for those who cheer on our current leader.  Many others protest his policies towards those fleering poverty, terror, crime, tyranny and death...

Long has it been since we were so divided as a nation.  Division born of identity crisis.  What does it mean to be an American?  Who are we?   Are we the compassionate, giving people we once took pride in claiming to be?  Or, is that now considered the creed of fools?  Those who embrace the pseudo-populist movement of Donald trump embrace cynicism and cruelty.  "We're not gonna take back our country by being nice," Trump has said.

No longer do we embrace the image of Lady Liberty holding her torch aloft, welcoming those in need from distant shores.  Nah, that's for suckers.  Build a wall, with a great big "keep out" sign on it.  That's the new America.
Maybe that's the whole planet Earth.  Nationalist and populist movements are erupting everywhere in the western world.  Once enlightened nations are following the demagogic example of Trump's America.  Never trust a foreigner.  And, never trust the rule of law.
Except when you want to use it to justify tearing immigrant families apart and putting children in cages.  Or, when you want to stack the courts with ideological zealots who simply can't wait to strip away a woman's right to choose or an entire community's right to marry.  Civil rights?  Religious freedom?  They come in second to a president's king-like power to control the borders by arbitrarily deciding who can travel here and who can't.  More broken families, more cruelty to remind ourselves who we are now.
We call ourselves a nation of life.  Except when we bomb the sh*t out of countries we don't like.  We call ourselves a nation of law.  Except when we're torturing people in foreign prisons.  We call ourselves a nation under God.  But, only some people's conception of God, not everyone's.  We call ourselves a nation of family values, yet we tear families asunder or at best incarcerate them together, not truly out of respect for law (we have no problem, remember with torture, imprisonment without trial or undeclared war) but out of fear of those who are different.
E pluribus Unum?  Not by a longshot.  Happy Birthday, America...Whoever the hell you are.

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