I grew up in the sort of household that defended unions (my father was a labor lawyer), sang protest songs (my mother taught folk guitar well before it was trendy), felt personally disgraced by the institutionalizing of racism (my brother registered Black voters in the south in the early ’60s) and watched the rise of Congressman Nixon with disbelief. Yet, my parents’ indignation was aimed at what they perceived as our country’s failure to live up to its own values.
I was brought up on those values. I still believe in them. To me, an America that doesn’t welcome the outcasts of the earth is unthinkable. It is not only at our moral center, the diversity and vitality and hope it provides is the core of our strength.
So now we’re going to deport people even if we’re sending them back to be tortured.
There’s a moral high horse to be ridden here. Something about Jefferson and the Statue of Liberty. That’s the logical conclusion from my first two paragraphs, I admit. But my shame over this cold-hearted decision by frightened sons of bitches doesn’t come from principle. It comes from imagining how to explain the ruling to one of its victims without the explanation amounting to a further betrayal. It comes from imagining the family scene afterwards.
I’m in favor of fear. I wake up every day and check the news to see what’s still standing. I fled Boston the weekend that Ashcroft said there was “credible evidence” of an attack. Believe me, my fear credentials are in order. But I don’t love fear so much that I’m willing to send people back to countries to be tortured.
The vote on this bill was along party lines. The Republicans have betrayed our country. For shame.
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