March 11

We Are All Immigrants: Trump vs. DeNiro

statue-of-libertyWell hello there! Where’ve you been these last couple of weeks? What’s that? Where have I been? Why, I’ve had my head buried under my pillow, waiting for the horror show that is the Donald Trump campaign to go away. But I’m finally convinced that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. And that scares me to death.

Trump’s a conman who has somehow convinced a huge number of Americans that, if elected, he’s going to make Mexico pay for a 10-foot wall across the entire border of the U.S.

He’s also vowed to keep all Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., because of *gasp* terrorism. No women, no children, nobody. The fact that these people are escaping from a wrecked, bombed-out country where simply existing is a risk to life doesn’t really matter. They’re different. And that, apparently, makes them dangerous.

According to Trump and other candidates, all Muslims hate America. They hate it. Simple as that. Just ignore the millions of Muslim-Americans who live here, work here, play here, and worship here. Peacefully. Never mind them. Don’t let them get in the way of the blind xenophobia and racism.

Anybody with half a brain has already figured out that Trump is nothing more than a mean little con man. Oh, he’s got lots of money, sure, but a big bank account doesn’t automatically qualify you to be president. Well, it shouldn’t, at least.

The news reports of the bullying and violence that’s occurring with increasing frequency at Trump rallies frightens me. Is this the best we have to offer ourselves, and the rest of the world? Just non-stop ugliness and cruelty towards anybody who looks differently, or worships differently, or simply doesn’t agree with our backwards politics? I find it increasingly worrisome.

Now, I have no doubt that Trump will not be elected President this year, or any other year. I’ve got to believe that the better angels of our nature will prevail and keep Trump’s brand of B.S. far away from the halls of power. I have to believe it. If I think of the alternative, I get sad and have to lie down. Trump’s got the support of a base that, for the most part, is rather uneducated and misinformed about how the real world works. They’re pissed off, I get that, there’s a lot of lower income people in this country who’ve been getting screwed for years, and they want a scapepgoat. It’s so easy to blame “others” for our problems here at home. But there’s got to be a better way than to vote in a president with so many downright scary (and unrealistic) ideas. Hate breeds hate; the Trump campaign is a glaring example.

Why are we so afraid of everything, and everybody? I get it, terrorism sucks, and it’s scary, but when did we decide it’s OK to just trample our rights for a tiny little bit of safety? Safety that, for the most part, is an illusion.

The part of all this arguing about which group of immigrants we can kick out and keep out fastest boggles my mind. You want to know why? It’s because this country of ours, this nation that so many want to close off to the rest of the’s a nation born of immigrants. We are ALL immigrants, with the exception of the remaining pockets of Native Americans who were here when the first boatloads of immigrants from Great Britain came ashore and decided they liked what they saw and began a process of eliminating and marginalizing those who were here before them.

Since the first pilgrims arrived, our nation has been built by, and for, wave after wave of immigrants from countries around the globe. We are quite literally all born of immigrants of one kind or another. Some of us can trace our lineage all the way back to the Mayflower, some of us had grandparents who came here from Germany, or Italy, or Mexico, or China…But whether it was 100 years ago or last week, everybody who has come here has been an immigrant.

And that’s what makes this place so great. We learn at a very young age that America is the “Great Melting Pot” of people from around the world, most of whom gave up everything they had back to home to come here to try to make a better life for themselves and their families. They struggled and toiled in this strange New World, and their collective experiences, the millions and millions of them, right up to today, have made this country what it is.

This isn’t a nation that cowers in fear at strangers from other countries. The Statue of Liberty doesn’t stand in the harbor with a “KEEP OUT” sign around her neck. She beckons to, and welcomes, all who wish for a better life:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

We need to throw our doors open wide to welcome those who are escaping horrors elsewhere in the world, wherever they are. To watch Presidential candidates argue about who’s going to close down the borders fastest…why, that’s embarrassing ourselves to the rest of the world.

ellis-movieWhy do I bring this all up, anyway? It’s because I watched a short film the other day called ‘Ellis.’ Narrated by Robert DeNiro, it’s shot in the abandoned buildings of Ellis Island, where so many of our ancestors entered this great nation in the late 19th and early-20th centuries. So many millions have fought, and still fight, for a shot at a better life here. We need to remember them. And not all who wanted so desperately to come to America were allowed in. Maybe they were sick, or maybe the immigration official was just having a bad day; an immigrant’s entire future literally hung in the balance.

From the film’s website:

“This is the trailer for ELLIS, a short film starring Robert De Niro, written by Eric Roth, directed by JR.
The short narrative film, ELLIS, awakens our collective memory. Leaving their past behind them, immigrants fleeing poverty, discrimination, dictatorship arrived there. Ellis Island was the gateway to the United States for millions of immigrants. Upon arrival, they were processed, approved or denied access. Due to sickness or simply tiredness, many were placed in the hospital. A purgatory of sorts, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, where thousands of men, women and children awaited their fate.
ELLIS tells the forgotten story of these immigrants who built America while questioning about those who currently seek the same opportunities and safety in this country and other parts of the world.”

Here’s the trailer for Ellis. I recommend it highly. It’s well worth the 14 minutes it takes to watch. It’s currently streaming on Netflix as well as Amazon Prime. It’s a beautiful reminder that we live in a remarkable place, a place that so many around the world would give just about anything for for just a chance at being able to live here, to add their own story to the rich tapestry that is America. We need to cool it with the hate…

Oh, and all that trash talk about how we need to “protect ourselves from terrorists” by keeping out all those poor Syrians and anybody else who is Muslim? It’s all B.S. It’s helpful to know the facts. We’re safer than our politicians would have us believe. The terrorism we need to be worrying about is probably going to come from within. Just a thought.

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Posted March 11, 2016 by in category "Current Events", "History", "Information", "Movies", "Pop Culture", "Rants

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