My beliefs are summed up by the quote at the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
My beliefs are further expressed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Fortunately, those beliefs are shared with many in Columbia.
But I hardly recognize the beliefs of this country as expressed by the rally crowd in Greenville, North Carolina, not a bastion of American values to begin with.
“Send her back” they chanted in reference to U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota. She is an elected official, chosen by a vote of the people in her district.
As a child, she was brought to this country by parents fleeing the violence in Somalia. She is a U.S. citizen, and she embodies the statement on the Statue of Liberty.
What she has done is to challenge some of what she sees that needs to be corrected. In addition, she dared to use the right to freedom of expression to cite some of what she saw as wrong in this country.
But those people at the gathering in Greenville saw her as the “other” and were in favor of sending her back to a country ravaged by war.
In addition to her other American attributes, she is also a woman of color. Add up all her “other” criteria, and she is what the supporters hate.
While being broadly condemned for their racist chant, the fact remains that they also represent a faction of this country that has disavowed all those good words in the New York City bay.
To make matters worse, they are the base of support for the current president, whose vitriolic tweeted comments and his appearance before the Washington press corps encouraged the “send her back” chant.
We are better than this. It is no great matter to set aside ideological differences and support our commonalities.
I have previously pointed out that a fisherman wearing a T-shirt with the Confederate flag and I agreed to disagree about the Civil War and promote our common goal, which was to catch trout.
That is what it means to be an American. We can agree to disagree about differences and not attack others because they have different opinions.
That, apparently, was the reason so many mouthed that hateful chant. Ideological differences, with a bit of nudging from the current chief executive, were deemed worthy of deporting a U.S. elected official.
All of that is absolutely contrary to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to express ourselves and to practice a preferred religion.
Ilhan Omar did both of those things. She has spoken out about what she sees as inequities and injustices, and she is a Muslim, not a white Christian. For those matters, intolerant people would have her ejected from this country.
While probably not recognizing it, those same people are flying in the face of the basic values of America.
“Love it or leave it” was a favorite saying of the supporters of the Vietnam War. I was one of those who said that, instead, the slogan should be “Love it and change it.”
That vision prevailed, and we got out of Vietnam.
Seemingly, those in Greenville like things the way they would have it, where white people prevail in all things. In short, they are un-American.