What's at Stake

Published May 5, 2020
Today I read that the federal government would withhold pandemic aid from states he did not abandon their status as sanctuary cities for immigrants seeking to gain citizenship in these United States (1). I was struck by the brazen callousness of this pronouncement. On its surface, its the same political strong-arming that we've come to expect, sadly, from the Trump administration.  The inexplicable linking of aid in one sphere, public health, and another immigration should have alarmed and even enraged our citizenry.  It did not. We just kept on with our lives.

I watched a video of a man in a Dollar General wiping his nose on a worker who requested that he wear a surgical mask(2). He was offended by this worker who was doing her job.  His protest was a threat and an affront. If he were sick, he hoped to give an innocent woman a potentially lethal disease. At a minimum, he showed his utter contempt for the law.  We are not shocked.  Some may even applaud this "patriot" boldly acting out his "liberty".  Disgusting.

A group of armed men stormed the Michigan capitol building to stand arm-to-arm in front of the legislative chambers. (3)  During a time when large groups pose an intolerable risk to fellow citizens, these so-called Americans brandished their automatic rifles, hoping to intimidate or may just show off their toys Some of us applauded.

It's time to wake up America.  The silence of decent people has created a vacuum where fanatics and fringe conspiracy theorists can dominate our civic conversation.  These societal trolls have brandished their antisocial deviance as a badge of honor.  In a perverse display of ignorance, these supposed citizens point to the intellectual tradition of our Founding Fathers as justification for their protest.  

I believe our Founding Fathers would have recognized the actions of the President and his supporters as a toxic caricature of Lady Liberty.  These bullies represent the complete opposite of the wisdom and courage our Founding Fathers relied on to birth our American experiment.  Over the last two centuries, we have been lulled into a reality show in which the blue team and red team fight over the right to further stain our country's reputation and civic pride.  Like hooligans, we confuse political parties for sports teams.  Somehow we do not see the danger lurking at our door.

If we don't give a damn about the real soul of this country, we will hand over our rights and freedom to an organized mob.  We will find our worst impulses enshrined in legislation. We will watch other nations surge past us on the world stage.  Suddenly, too late, we will realize that when we were trolling each other's Facebook feeds, other nations were educating their children, providing comprehensive health care, securing their people against global terrors like climate change and pandemic, all while reaching for the opportunity that truly diverse people can offer. That is what's at stake.

We, the people, can do better.

(1) "Trump says he might giver federal coronavirus aid to states if they comply with his political demand"
(2) Dollar General Protest - 
(3) Coronavirus: Armed protesters enter Michigan statehouse -


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