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The Beauty of Diversity
While dark forces aim to further divide and degrade us with increasingly ruthless immigration policy, let's keep in mind that America's mosaic is its greatest strength
You may have heard that the disgraced ex-president’s hateful helpers are already plotting immigration policy for a second term. Forget actually solving a genuine problem and developing constructive, comprehensive immigration reform. The list of plans, if executed, would be Stephen Miller’s sadistic fantasy made real—another opportunity for his dear leader to go farther in abusing refugees, people of color and, ultimately, anyone who he deems an opponent.
As reported by The New York Times on Saturday, this includes preparing to re-institute a “Muslim ban,” expand the reasons to refuse asylum, “scour the country” for undocumented immigrants with “sweeping raids,” round them up and put them in mass camps, then deport millions without due process. Don’t doubt that many other groups could face the same mistreatment once such a vicious policy is underway.
“Trump will unleash the vast arsenal of federal powers to implement the most spectacular migration crackdown,” Trump immigration policy advisor Miller gleefully told the Times. “The immigration legal activists won’t know what’s happening.”
The fact that these plotters are so brazen about their ruthless program a year before the election makes plain their pride, their determination to rile up Trump’s cultist base and their desire to normalize their brutal intentions with a disbelieving majority. Once normalized, of course, the power of pushback is dulled. As we hear more about their draconian plan, keep in mind they are this transparent not despite, but because of, how contrary it is to basic American values and human decency.
While Veteran’s Day should have provided an ex-president a chance to celebrate the men and women who serve our country, Trump exploited his platform to assert the predicate for this coming immigration nightmare (if, heaven forbid, he retakes the White House) and his related attacks on the Justice Department and his many critics and perceived enemies. He spewed on Truth Social and again at a New Hampshire rally his “pledge to you to root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.”
That’s “root out.” That’s “vermin.” Just the kind of dehumanizing rhetoric that echoes one of the worst times in human history. Various folks on social media have noted the similarity of this language and Hitler’s poison from 1939: “This vermin must be destroyed. The Jews are our sworn enemies, and at the end of this year there will not be a Jew left in Germany.”
I share this not to amplify this sick vision, but to underscore the need to recognize what’s happening and to notice that Trump’s fellow Republicans are complicit in their silence. If it was up to all of them, we would be unwittingly adapting to their fascistic mindset.
But I want to return to the opening words of Hakeem Jeffries when he was chosen House minority leader. His were not about being ordained by God like Christian nationalist Mike Johnson when he took the speaker’s gavel less than three weeks ago. Jeffries talked about diversity as America’s strength, “what makes America a great country.”
That’s the quality, that’s the vision and values, he wanted to convey—a nation which esteems equality and diversity, not prioritizing mine and me over yours and you and the need to “root out” hated undesirables. This is a vision not based on zero sum or fear-driven “replacement theory”—which assumes the prosperity of another race takes from the endangered white majority and minimizes them—but where the common good is enriched by the diversity of contributors.
Here’s how Jeffries put it in the wee hours of January 7 this year:
We believe that in America our diversity is a strength. It is not a weakness. An economic strength, a competitive strength, a cultural strength…We are a gorgeous mosaic of people from throughout the world. As John Lewis would sometimes remind us on this floor, we may have come over on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now.
We are white, we are Black. We are Latino, we are Asian, we are Native American. We are Christian, we are Jewish, we are Muslim, we are Hindu. We are religious, we are secular. We are gay, we are straight. We are young, we are older. We are women, we are men, we are citizens, we are dreamers. Out of many we are one. That’s what makes America a great country.
In my own “love letter” to America after hearing Jeffries’ speech, I wrote “you can count me among the realistic optimists who grasp that darkness never succeeds in snuffing out the light…count me among your advocates of diversity who understand that this strength will eventually succeed in overcoming the insecure, the incompetent and the fearful.” As Jeffries said, “No matter what kind of haters are trying to divide us, we’re not going to let anyone take that away from us. Not now, not ever. This is the United States of America, a land of opportunity.”
Trump and his poisonous backers must be taken seriously and literally. The country failed to recognize the danger he represented in 2016, and we have every reason to expect the outcome after 2024 would be more inhumane and more unhinged. This would be his chance to finish what he started without reticent, lawfully “conservative” adults in the room who limited him, at least a little, the last time he controlled the levers of power.
There is still time to not just voice a warning, but also remind ourselves and each other about the beauty that defines our democratic country and the reasons why it’s worth fighting for. As Lincoln reminded us on the Gettysburg battlefield in 1863 (exactly 160 years ago this week), this is part of our “unfinished work” as Americans.
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