Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Have We No Sense of Decency?

The United States is schizophrenic. Okay, maybe it just has what used to be called a split personality. In recent years this condition has been reduced to the words Red and Blue. Since I identify as Blue, anything I say about the Red side is suspect. Probably, however, since most of my friends and relatives are Blue, I am just preaching to the choir. 

On one side we have those who want low taxes for all including the super rich, less government regulation, strong borders and limited immigration, free and unlimited access to guns, lower spending on all social programs: health care, education, transportation, scientific research, and greater spending on the military along with a generally more robust interventionist foreign policy.

On the other side, the opposite.

On both sides we have a culture of fear and distrust of government, except when the government is in the control of their side, and even then, there is a growing percentage who distrust government regardless of which side has control. Many Americans identify with groups whose goal seems to be to destroy or dismantle most of the functions of government such as the Tea Party, Patriot Movement, and Libertarians. I couldn’t find evidence of an organized leftist group that wants to destroy the government, but those on the Red side see programs such as the Affordable Care Act and efforts at Immigration Reform and gun control as the destruction of the “American Way of Life.” 

Increasingly, therefore, there is a feeling that the other side is “Anti-American” or at least acting in ways that are counter to established American values.

And that’s how I’ve felt since the anti-Syrian, anti Immigrant response to the Paris attacks from Red state governors and congressmen. 

I am ashamed of the news coming out of the United States regarding these issues. It boggles my mind that over half the states’ governors have requested that Syrian refugees be kept out of their states. It drives me crazy to hear supposedly serious candidates for president proclaim that no amount of vetting could be adequate to verify that a Syrian refugee is not coming here to cause us harm. 

There oughta’ be a law (I’m not serious) against that kind of fear mongering. I wonder when the harassment and discrimination, possibly worse, of Syrians and other immigrants or even long time citizens who may look less than white or vaguely Arab will begin.

I shouldn’t be surprised after the fear and panic some of these same so-called leaders encouraged in the face of the outbreak of Ebola in Africa. Remember the hysterical declarations and efforts to keep people from any of the affected countries from coming here? Where are the outbreaks they predicted?

The fact is that anyone can become radicalized and become a terrorist in this age of social media and slick recruiting videos. Putting refugees of war in camps and refusing to integrate them into any kind of society or allow them any opportunity to have a decent life is a recipe for creating terrorists. 

To paraphrase Jack Welch to Anti-Communist crusader Senator Joe McCarthy when he was using a Senate investigative committee to accuse them, costing many their jobs and reputations, “Have you, at long last, sir, no sense of decency?” Have we, as Americans, no sense of decency? Are we so afraid that our only response to tragedy is an impulse to send troops, to send bombers, to seal our borders? 

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