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November 28, 2015


We should be ashamed. Sweden, the middle country of the Scandinavian Peninsula, far, far smaller than the United States, is taking in 350,000 refugees, while our Republican-dominated House and Senate are balking at taking in a mere 10,000. What message are we sending to the rest of the world, or for that matter, to ourselves when looking in the mirror? Do we have any “core values” left, or are we not a country but rather just a marketplace within which to play out our greedy and exploitative behaviors in asset-gathering (aka “getting rich”)?

I am not impressed with the phony pretense that we may import terrorists into our country given the thorough vetting these refugees must undergo before coming into our midst. These unfortunate people (mostly women and children) are indeed trying to escape the very terrorism of which Republicans claim to have such fear. I am a successor of refugees from an Irish potato famine and Prussian militarism of the 19th century, and most of those reading this are successors of refugees as well, so why would we deny modern day refugees a safe refuge from the terrorism raging within their countries?

After all, the earliest “refugees” from British religion and royal dictatorship who came to North America were terrorists to Native Americans when they showed up on their shores with muskets, firewater, racism, land-grabbing, smallpox and other diseases for which Native Americans had no immunity. Disease killed far more “Indians” than muskets in both North and South America.

One can, of course, be a “refugee” and a “terrorist” at the same time, but there is nothing in history to show that the Pilgrims were well-vetted before stepping ashore in what later became the Massachusetts Bay Colony with their guns and diseases, and there is also nothing to show that today’s refugees are anything but well-vetted, contrary to the gutter politics and pretense Republicans are employing to politicize human suffering with their disgusting legislative (and presidential candidates’) fear-mongering and issue-manufacturing.

One wonders what other “core American values” and perhaps even constitutional rights, privileges and immunities these Republicans will ignore if they ascend to absolute power in this country. One also wonders about their pretended fears from terrorists among the imported refugees while supporting the NRA’s gun views when 88 people PER DAY on average are killed by guns in America, speaking of terrorism. We have far more than 10,000 domestic “terrorists” already loose in this country – and with Republican blessing to keep such “terrorists” armed! How can such support of (basically) murder possibly be in the public interest? Logic, anybody?

I have some questions. Are we into trading human lives for votes? Have we descended that far? Who are we? Is America a compassionless aggregation of the greedy with no other purpose or future than to   provide a venue for unregulated greed to thrive? Have we traded in George Washington/Thomas Jefferson/James Madison democratic idealism for an Ayn Rand/ Bernie Madoff Social Darwinism existence in a dog eat dog Hobbesian world bereft of all humanity? To reiterate, who are we, and where are we as a country headed with the greedy and the bought in control of policy – greatness? Forget it. Think Rome, which did not fall to the “barbarians;” Rome fell, like many great empires, from within.

America is the richest country in the world (even though such wealth is maldistributed due to the greed of the few with political connections), has a country many times bigger than Sweden and a population of some 320 million people (several multiples of that of Sweden), and yet Sweden has invited 350,000 refugees into their country and Republicans are passing laws to keep a measly 10,000 refugees out of this vast country for no good reason other than to gather in votes from like-minded racists and nativists.

I think this goes beyond politics; it speaks to our basic sense of humanity as biblically fleshed out in the parable of The Good Samaritan for the religious and treating your neighbor as you would have him/her treat you for the secular. We’re not talking votes; we’re talking a fundamental value applicable everywhere and not just here, though helping others is also a core American value (or used to be).

While not a member, I am ashamed and apologize to one and all for the heartless political conduct of the Republican Party, whose members rarely apologize for anything. I will do what I can to remove its representatives from power at the polls in November, 2016, and hope readers of this essay will join me because, among many other reasons, I think (if we continue on our present trajectory toward a Rome-like ending) that Sweden has a brighter future than we do.

We can and should do better by refugees and other people who are in trouble through no fault of their own, and if we do we will enjoy a certain moral authority that cannot be captured by military force, for instance, so let’s try our wings on the battlefield of pain and suffering and how to respond to right and wrong and substitute mercy for gunpowder. So far refugees have experienced lots of gunpowder but only scattered mercy. Let’s change that.   GERALD    E



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