Saturday, January 28, 2017

Silence Is Not an Option

This is not supposed to be a political blog.

This blog is supposed to be about the wonderful people of Michigan and our arts, culture, and food. I've written personal essays about my travels throughout the state and nostalgic posts about fond childhood memories. I often sit down at my computer with a smile on my face as I write about a writer I interviewed, film I saw, or a vacation I took. It brought me joy to share these stories with friends, family, and a few loyal readers.

But today, I sit here scowling with thousands of indignant thoughts clamoring in my mind yearning to breathe free. In his first week in office, our president has continued to play off irrational fears while ignoring or openly attacking facts. I wasn't surprised by this because the content of his character lacks basic rational thought and human empathy. I thought I could grin and bear it. I even laughed at his ridiculous wall.

But the tipping point was his executive order banning refugees from seven countries based on nothing but baseless fear of Muslim refugees. Not only did he impose this reckless ban, but he entered his order on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Putting into words my disgust with our president's executive order is difficult, but necessary.

Two months ago, I wrote about the United States as the "shining city upon a hill," and how I feared we might no longer be that shining city with the election of Donald Trump. Deep in my heart, I hoped that Trump wouldn't be that terrible and was naive enough to believe the Republicans who denounced Trump's bloviating about a Muslim ban would stand up to him when the time came. Then it only took one week for them to cave. One damn week. As I write this, only a small handful of GOP leaders have spoken against the ban. The rest either praise this un-American ban or sit in appalling silence.

Our country is consumed by irrational fear. And, yes, it is completely irrational. The Cato Institute, hardly a liberal organization, conducted a study that found that the chance of being killed in a terrorist attack by a refugee is a 1 in 3.64 billion per year. Not one of the 9/11 hijackers was from the countries on Trump's list. But we are supposed to cower under our covers worried about the Muslim Boogeyman because fearmongering politicians tell us to. A president once told us that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Now, fear is our greatest weakness.

Lady Liberty's lamp is no longer lifted beside the golden door, but at her side, nearly extinguished by the storied, xenophobic pomp of Donald Trump. Thanks to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, there is one small, glowing ember left that one court decision cannot save. Instead, we must raise our voices and let the collective breath of a brave and free people act as a great bellows that ignites her torch anew. And we must rise up and roar every time Donald Trump tries to use his powers to incite fear and attempt to restrict liberty.

Silence is not an option.

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