The day after the election, some of my sister’s students came to her, worried they or their families would be deported. As an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher outside Washington, DC, her students range from gardeners’ to ambassadors’ kids. That fear hasn’t abated.
My husband’s tennis coach, a US citizen from the Dominican Republic, shared that friends one night had forgotten they’d ordered a pizza. When the knock came on the door, they froze, expecting ICE agents to barge in.
A friend returning home from a trip abroad was asked about her husband’s last name. Her husband, Polish born, arrived in the US when he was 10; his father was a Holocaust survivor.
Border control agents detained a former high school classmate of my eldest son for two hours. You’ve heard of her. An Olympic medal winning fencer, Ibtihaj Muhammad, was targeted because she wears a hijab and is Muslim.
And recently, American boxer great Muhammad Ali’s son, Muhammad Ali Jr. was detained at customs for two hours, for his Muslim name.
These are horrific, cruel and frightening scenarios. We probably all can share personal stories.
The one that really gets me is Mem Fox’s ordeal. Fox, 70, a renowned Australian children’s author, was held for two hours (seems to be the limit of customs patrol attention span), when she tried to enter the US to attend a conference. Fox, whose books like Time for Bed and Possum Magic delight millions of children worldwide, is also a strong proponent of children’s literature in schools and resource for educators. So derailed by her inquisition, she said she cried “like a baby” and vowed never to visit the US again.
This is a huge loss to US educators and children.
These actions are an affront to all religious ideals, democracy and basic kindness.
Let’s continue to stand up and speak out.
My letter to my congressman this week focused on Freedom of the Press:
Dear Rep. Lance:
The White House’s exclusion of major news organizations to its press briefing last Friday is a clear violation of the First Amendment. President Trump continues to call the press “an enemy of the people.”
However, I have not read or heard any statement from you about these actions and statements.
By remaining silent, you exhibit craven attitudes that democracy isn’t important to you and that you welcome a dictatorship.
Remember the words of President Thomas Jefferson in 1787:
“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
When will you stand up and speak out against regime intent to destroy our democracy?