Legge cartoon

Cartoon by Chuck Legge

Donald John Trump, President of the United States, is a coward. And if you think what he is doing to refugees is okay, then you are a coward too. The good news is you don't have to be.

Refusing families from Syria or the Sudan because there might be a few bad apples is an outrage. These are people running from places that will almost surely kill them, and they are usually investigated more thoroughly than Trump cabinet members. Separating children from their families and caging them in “summer camps” with locks and armed guards is cowardice on a historic scale. Do we really want to be that country? If you go along with this, do you really think history will be kind to you?

A little less than a century ago we faced the rise of fascism in Europe. For the most part the United states performed heroically, but history is more nuanced than a John Wayne movie. The incarceration of Japanese Americans, simply because of their ethnicity, is something we would do well to remember today. Americans of Japanese descent were rounded up and put in concentration camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many of them were either naturalized or born here Their property and wealth was confiscated with no due process, and they sat out the war behind barbed wire.

As the saying goes: “history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” At one time this administration entertained the thought of doing away with birthright citizenship. In other words if you were born in the United States to foreign parents you would not automatically be a US citizen. Around the beginning of the year, Trump discussed doing away with this right by simply issuing an executive order. This is a right outlined in the Constitution by the 14th Amendment. Granted, it's not the 2nd Amendment but it's an amendment none the less. In an effort to purge, purify, and deliver us from all those others, Trump would have us ignore our Constitution and cower in the shadows. This idea illustrates the glaring, willful, and xenophobic cowardice of the current tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

A few years prior to sending US citizens off to concentration camps the ship M.S. St. Louis was off the coast of Miami in 1939, with more than 900 Jewish refugees. The situation in Germany had become increasingly difficult for them. The “final solution” death camps were not yet in place, but the atmosphere was growing ever more hostile and the people on board the St. Louis had made the difficult decision to leave home and start over in a different country.

Their original destination was Cuba to await immigration the the United States. The majority of passengers had purchased Cuban visas, but Cuban President, Federico Laredo Bru, chose to revoke those visas and turned the ship back. The ship then headed north and sailed toward Miami. Their attempt to land was rejected by immigration officials and pleas from the passengers to President Franklin Roosevelt were ignored.

Once again the ship set sail but this time for Europe. It was accompanied by a Coast Guard escort to pick up anyone desperate enough to jump overboard. A final exigent call went out to Canada, but it too fell on deaf ears.

Back home, a few of the refugees found sanctuary in other European countries, some of which were soon overrun by Germany, but the majority of them ended up in Hitler's concentration camps. Two hundred and fifty-four died there.

In the wake of the St. Louis, after the Holocaust, the United States changed its refugee policy and began accepting more than any other country in the world, until now. In an effort to discourage people fleeing impossible conditions in Central America, Trump is refusing refugees at the border. He is separating and caging children and imprisoning their parents. He is telling officials to willingly break the law and if necessary he will pardon them. He is turning back ships of refugees from the Bahamas after hurricane Dorian. All because there may be some “really bad dudes” in the mix. Mind you, there is no evidence that those dudes are there. They just might be, and that's enough justification. I don't know what you would call that sort of behavior, but I call it cowardly.

The craven response, of this administration, to people in need will be reviewed by history. If you think that what he has done is okay than you will receive the same historical verdict as our bone spur-suffering Coward in Chief. On the other hand if you believe, we should help those that come to us in desperation; if you think we should offer haven to those escaping war and drug cartels, then just say enough to the cruel policies of Donald Trump. You don't have to march, you don't have to join an organization, you just have to say enough. Oh, and also, you should vote. On the other, other hand, if you think refusing sanctum to hurricane victims somehow makes us a better country then the conversation ends here, and we will let history be the judge.

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