Tuesday, November 24, 2015
The Loss of Kindness: A Human Rights Backlash
As discussed by both Martha Davis and JoAnn Kamuf Ward earlier, countries are struggling with the refugee crisis. But U.S. citizens have responded poorly. While the administration offered of aid by way of admitting Syrian refugees, many individuals in the U.S. responded to that proposal with unkindness. It appears that many Americans lack the fundamental empathy necessary to care for those who struggle.
While some of the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim resolve may be based in fear, that does not account for all of the immigration backlash. Much anti-immigrant sentiment originated long before current events. Anti-immigrant hatred pre-dates both the Syrian migration and the Paris attacks.
Playing off of the poverty and under-education and the consequent limited opportunities of many of their constituents, along with the arrogance and narcissism of some wealthy, Donald Trump and Ben Carson revel in the chaos that erupts after their increasingly aggressive attacks on those who seek safety and a better life in the United States. But the politics of exclusion are not new. The U.S. has turned away those desperate to escape brutality before. The current situation reminds me of U.S. refusal to accept European Jewish refugees escaping Hitler's scourge who arrived at our shores on the U.S.S. St. Louis. That shame of that particular act of cruelty has not diminished with time. In the current instance, however, the state is not the culprit. But others who seek power are.
As JoAnn Kamuf Ward reminded us, we can do better. We have a chance for a do over. But so far many Americans refuse to consider, let alone learn from our historical regrets. Once again, I fear that historians will record us as turning our backs on those who are at risk of dying at the hands of their governments. All because some who seek power lack both the courage and dedication necessary to seek the common good.