Written by: Ally Bolour, AILA Media-Advocacy Committee
A new attitude seems to have taken hold in American society these days – one that appears to be spreading through every medium and every social group. I see it on television, in newspapers, and on the internet; I hear it on the radio and in everyday conversations. Alienating and dehumanizing any group that is “different,” starting of course with immigrants. If the immigrants are undocumented – we call them illegal. If they are U.S. citizen children, but have undocumented parents – we call them the children of illegals! We pass laws in Alabama to demand that children bring proof of the “legality” of their parents to the classrooms. We no longer exhibit pride in the American melting pot; we try to explain it away and hyphenate it instead.
We give police officers the power to ask for papers from people who look different – perhaps they wear traditional clothing, or speak with an accent, or have darker skin than the next person. We even debate the “true” meaning of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and plant seeds of doubt regarding the rights to birthright citizenship in America.
Just recently, the House of Representatives proudly presented a bill for markup which would have given protection against civil lawsuits to those who report “suspicious activity” and would have designated yet another federal czar – this time to counter homegrown violent Islamist extremism. The bill is notably silent on reporting non-Islamic violent extremism. The proposed law reminds me of another congressional action which created the House Committee on Un-American Activities circa 1938-1975, which destroyed countless lives and families.
This marginalization extends beyond the immigration debate. To date, we’re still attacking President Obama for not being black enough. Herman Cain, a Republican presidential contender, declared the President of the United States of America to be of the “other” camp – specifically that he has “never been part of the Black experience.” The President’s father was Kenyan, so it has been open season to insult Mr. Obama as a non-American and to actually demand the original of his birth certificate. Prominent persons of influence have declared President Obama to be a Moslem. When cornered by reporters, they cowardly make non-committal statements such as “I take him at his word that he is a Christian!”
And that is yet another group to marginalize. Pundits define “Christianity” to include only Evangelicals; certainly not Mormons. A few days ago, the conversation on every news channel was whether or not Mormonism is a cult. Pundits proudly pronounce that Americans “tolerate” Jews, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems and persons from other faiths and even non-believers. The caveat being that though these tolerated folk may stick around, they are not equals and therefore can’t hold certain positions, thereby ignoring the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
But then we have yet another group to marginalize, because Evangelical Christians can’t be gay, but if they insist that they are, then they also go in the tolerance category. Additionally, they will have the extra burden of going to church every Sunday and repent ad nauseam for who they are. Still, they shouldn’t be able to serve in the military because they’d be taking showers in close quarters; and marriage for them is categorically out of the question! To make sure of that, Congress will spend at least $1.5 million of public funds to defend a law – DOMA – which President Obama, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the very author of that discriminatory bill, former Georgia Congressperson Robert Barr, have all called unconstitutional.
You see, once you start removing groups from our American society the way it has become customary to do so in the public arena, we end up with a hard-core minority who will do anything and everything to hold onto their narrative in order to control the debate, thereby leaving the majority out in the cold.
We can’t just tolerate the cultural mosaic that is America; we must embrace, love, and cherish it just as we have done throughout our history. As part of that, we must reintroduce the notion of the melting pot society in the classrooms of Alabama, Arizona, Utah, and beyond. We need to pass a Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) bill to bring millions of families out of the shadows and into our fold. The definition of families under CIR must be all encompassing. LGBT families have long suffered from this lack of recognition and are still battling discriminatory laws in America. As such, DOMA must be repealed so bi-national couples have the option of immigrating to the U.S. All of these families will create jobs, pay taxes, and attend schools; they will apply for loans, and then buy homes and cars; they will travel, book hotels, buy tickets and go to the movies, therefore stimulating our depressed economy.
At the same time, we can relieve the Department of Homeland Security from issuing endless memos on how their various dragnet policies are color-neutral. Resources will be freed up to secure our borders. Congress can retreat from passing laws that target any particular segment of our society. Local law enforcement will once again gain the trust of every community and thus be able to go after criminals amongst us – documented or otherwise. Only then will the national debate be able to move forward on how to improve life for every American, not just the selected few. Under this vision, no one – whether majority, minority, or any sub-group in the middle – is marginalized or dehumanized.