Sunday, January 29, 2017

Why are Republicans turning their backs on American values?

I grew up in a staunchly Republican family.  My father, his father, and his brother were all newspaper editors, and actively involved in the state Republican party.  They were proud of the “Grand Old Party” and America, and I grew up believing that our country was a moral beacon for the world because of our values -- a nation that valued freedom, and welcomed immigrants seeking a better life. I learned the Emma Lazarus poem that appears on the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. . . send these, the tempest-tossed, to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door”) and thought of our country as a place that welcomed all who thirsted for freeom.

Of course, there have been many points in our history when we have not lived up to these values – the Japanese internment camps during World War II, for example, or the ship of Jewish refugees that was turned away from our shores during the Holocaust – but I grew up hopeful that we had learned from these examples, and would make sure that nothing of the kind ever happened again.  The 1965 immigration act made it clear that bigotry had no place in immigration decisions, a hopeful sign, along with the civil rights movement of that era.

Two days ago, however, President Trump’s executive order enshrined bigotry, discrimination, fear, and cowardice as the values of our nation, and Republican voices in Congress objecting to this have been few and far between.  Some have even supported it, describing a vision of a nation beset by fear and turning away from the world.

What has happened to the Republican party? Has it changed that much since my childhood?  Do Republicans no longer value our country and our Constitution? Are there no Republicans with the moral courage to fight for our country? 

Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, tweeted yesterday “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength.” This tweet should express the values of our country as well, and is what our leaders should be saying.  I hope that in the days ahead Republicans will regain their moral courage and stand with Democrats to rescind this bigoted and immoral executive order. As Katherine Clark, Massachusetts representative, said, “This is a question of right vs. wrong,” and all of our representatives should stand together on it.