This isn’t who we are

It started with Muslims. Now separating children from their parents, and babies from their mothers? This can’t be us! This can’t be who we are. But if we don’t stand up and say “no,” it might be who we become.

The lack of empathy or compassion from President Donald Trump over the separation of over 3,000 children from their parents because their skin was brown is a reminder of one of the darkest days in our history — the relocation of Japanese to internment camps in World War ll, just because they looked different. Our country was built on higher ideals than this.

We now know that Trump’s interest in denying entrance to immigrants was a racially tinged appeal to his political base of intolerance. It would encourage them to vote in the fall and pressure Congress to build his wall before the fall elections can potentially change the congressional make up.

For political gain, children are being secretly flown out of Texas in the middle of the night to places like New York to be kept in camps. They fled their homeland to seek safety in the United States and they end up in New York? That’s hardly an upgrade in the safety department. But their homes were so dangerous that they will take the chance and pray for a better life in America. Maybe while they are there they can see the Statue of Liberty and read the misleading, and now dishonest, words at its base, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.”

Trump did seem to reverse himself, but returned to his race-baiting self with a press conference that re-inflamed the situation by using the families of those who have lost relatives, allegedly to immigrants, as political props, even though some of those lives were lost in traffic accidents. According to a 2017 report from the Cato Institute, 1.53 percent of native-born Americans are incarcerated, compared to only 0.85 percent of unauthorized immigrants and 0.47 percent of legal immigrants, making them less likely to commit crimes than people born here. First Lady Melania Trump’s trip to Texas to meet the immigrants was completely undermined by her coat and its alternative meaning, “I Really Don’t Care, Do You?”

Trump’s embracing thug dictators who mistreat their citizens, while alienating the world’s democracies is alarming, and suggests he would like to join them. And he appears to be stage setting that possibility. Would anyone be surprised if Trump found a way, possibly a war, to “delay” the next presidential election and then simply not reschedule it? Benjamin Franklin said in answer to the question of what kind of government they had created, “a republic if you can keep it.” Can we?

Trump’s “best and brightest” — his cabinet — has become members of his own swamp, taking trips, ordering furniture and living like kings on the public dollar while they try and figure out a way to put all the safety net programs in the same department so they can cut such terrible expenditures as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which feeds millions of low income children and families each year. Have you been in a school and seen how many children need the meal their parents can’t afford to provide at home?

Trump’s America does not call for the higher moral ground our country was founded on, nor is there a search to refine our national ideal of equality and heighten our commitment to democracy. Trump’s America is for rich, white people only. Their only need for poor white people is their vote.

Trump plays on their fears to get that vote, along with the National Rifle Association’s money, by misleading them into believing that guns aren’t the problem; it is mental illness that is responsible for the children who are shot in our schools. Again the facts are different. Only 25 percent have mental health issues. And they don’t snap; they give clues and they plan, and the one common feature is the gun that is usually too easy to obtain.

In last week’s Time magazine, Karl Vick wrote “In the balance between the integrity of the U.S. Border with Mexico and the parent’s love for a child, where will we come down?” We used to know the answer with a clarity so strong the question needn’t be asked.

Michelle Obama said it best when discussing the presidency: “It reveals who you are.” And so far with Trump, it isn’t anything to be proud of.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn and retired public official. He can be reached at bjroegner@comcast.net.

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