Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Easton Rallies To Support Our Diversity
Xenophobia is nothing new. Fear of the different has been used as a tool to manipulate people for centuries. Ivan the Terrible did it. Stalin did it. We all know Hitler did it. And now it is Donald Trump's turn to manipulate the masses by playing on a fear of others. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
I see this xenophobia in some old Easton and Palmer Township deeds.They impose restrictive covenants prohibiting future owners from selling to "colored persons" or Italians. I wonder if these people from a different time ever envisioned an Easton with an Italian Mayor, African American City Council VP and a Lebanese council member. How would they feel about seeing two Jewish State Representatives standing at their side?
Last night, before a large crowd that some estimated to be as high as 450 people, that's what happened. Easton's Italian Mayor Sal Panto stood with African American City Council member Ken Brown and Lebanese Council member Peter Melan. They were flanked by two Jewish State Representative, Bob Freeman and Mike Schlossberg. In their midst was ACLU Attorney Gary Asteak. He might be nominally Jewish but that's just his cover. He's actually from the planet Tralfamadore, where they make very nice hats. He stopped here once to take a leak and just stayed.
This odd assortment of people was itself the message. Our diversity is what makes us great already. Without it, we'd be pretty boring. Nobody from Tarlfamadore would ever visit.
"I am proud of our diversity, not afraid of it," said Mayor Panto.
This rally was a reaction to President Trump's Executive Order on Friday. On the surface, Trump claimed he just wants to make us safe. But he's really just trading on our fear.
Panto referred to his Italian heritage, noting it is a country well known for the mafia and criminals. He said it is "just crazy" to force every person of one ethnic background to suffer because of the actions of a very few.
Easton activist Laini Abraham said her family fled anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia. Christian Syrians are being beheaded by ISIS, and Trump has denied them refugee status. Does that make you feel better?
An Iranian doctor who was supposed to work on a cure for tuberculosis at Harvard Medical School was sent back. Do you feel safer?
An Iraqi translator moving his family to this country was forced to return to a people who hate him for working with Americans. Is this gratitude?
"It is unAmerican to send the oppressed back into the hands of the oppressor," said Freeman. He reminded everyone of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" speech, in which he advocated for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
Instead of promoting freedom from fear, President Trump is a fear monger.According to Freeman, he has turned the bully pulpit into a "bully's pulpit."
In one piece of encouraging news, the Trump administration is allowing 872 refugees into this country despite the Executive Order.