Monday, July 9, 2018

Do You Hear The People Sing?

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the songs of angry men?
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!
Do you hear the people sing?"
- Les Misérables

Subject: Stop Separating Immigrant Families Press Conference and Rally Chicago Illinois on June 5, 2018. | Date: 06/05/2018 | Photographer: Charles Edward Miller |This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

I know I've written about this topic a lot lately, but it's one I can't get past. The idea that we are taking children away from families who are looking for a better life appalls me. The patriot in me has wanted to curl up into the fetal position and die. I have been ashamed to be an American.

As I grew up, I was taught that Americans were the good guys. I was proud to wear the red, white, and blue. Our country was a shining beacon of hope to the world. Hell, we have the largest lawn ornament in the world outside our country's front door welcoming immigrants looking for a better life.

Over the last few months, we've slammed the door on immigrants, illegal and legal alike. That's right boys and girls, not only have we ripped away children from illegal immigrants, we've taken them from asylum seekers as well.

A federal judge ordered the government to reunite all the children under five years old with their families by July 10th. Two days before the due date, the government was forced to admit they've lost, or destroyed, the records. Officials don't know which child goes to which family or where they are. The government has suggested that giving the children to foster homes is the same as unifying them with their actual families.

These policies are just evil. No, I'm not exaggerating! When you take children away with no clear procedure to reunite them, you've made it clear you don't care about people. Not caring about people is the foundation of evil. That's what evil is. I've been hanging my head for weeks, embarrassed to be an American.

I forgot one fundamental truth. America is not the government. America is not the White House. America is not Capitol Hill. America is WE THE PEOPLE! We are America.

As I was hanging my head, Americans of good conscious were busy finding ways to combat these atrocities. On the 28th of last month, six hundred Americans allowed themselves to be arrested in Washington D.C. for protesting the actions of ICE. Here in Portland, good Americans occupied ICE headquarters effectively closing the office for over a week. In fact, tens of millions of Americans, in all fifty states, have protested the horrors taking place on our southern border.

There are even Americans of noble intent taking matters into their own hands.  Some people are coming forward to pay the bond for as many immigrants as possible. Others are organizing nine car relays to get mothers from Texas to New York to claim children who have been located.

As Patricia Okoumou climbed the Statue of Liberty in protest of government sanctioned child abuse, I was reminded of a scene from Les Misérables. "Do you hear the people sing? Singing the songs of angry men? It is the music of the people Who will not be slaves again!" These lyrics roared from the throats of the young Frenchmen as they marched through town waving flags in defiance of a corrupt regime.

Over the last few weeks, this scene has been mimicked over and over again. Good-hearted Americans are rising up against tyranny.

Nobody knows how the future will unfold. In twenty years we don't know how this moment will be remembered. Will we be known for making our voices heard loud enough that policies were changed to reflect the values of; compassion, tolerance, and justice; or will our actions be recorded as a passing fad that was abandoned when the next shiny thing came along? It's up to us.

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