Our President’s executive order suspending refugee resettlement and issuing a travel ban and entry into US of people from 7 predominately Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen – was deeply unsettling and a violation of core American values.
The United States of America was founded by people who fled their own homelands in pursuit of religious freedom and economic opportunity.
Research your own ancestry. You may be surprised to discover the genetic origins of « skeletons » in your closet. With the exception of the Native Americans, we all came from elsewhere or worse yet were stripped from our homelands and sold into slavery. Don’t believe me. Check the records of genealogy registries like Ancestry.com. Different nationalities and ethnicities have been mixed for generations.
We all share a history of sacrifices. In 1902 my Norwegian great grandmother, Eugenie and her young daughter, set sail for America to join my great grandfather, Johan Rosholt, who arrived earlier. A fortnight after landing on Ellis Island, her daughter succumbed to illness. Three months later Eugenie died giving birth to my grandma, Martha. Johan sunk into deep depression; Martha became a ward of the state, and at the age of four was adopted by a Norwegian couple. Years later, Martha married Gustav Olson, another Norwegian emigrant, who died at age 47. He left behind my grandma, two sons and a daughter, my mom.
On my paternal side, the McKinzie lineage can be traced back to Scotland to the Mackenzie Clan of Kintail. In 1655 Collin McKenzie settled in Maryland as one America’s first founding families.
My paternal grandfather, son of a tenet farmer, coached into his 80s contributing his salary to help others receive the college education he so greatly valued. Every step of his long career, he defended human rights as a staunch Republican supporter of Ronald Reagan, his former football player and lifelong friend. My grandmother never complained about her inauspicious debut or hard life, instead she spread good cheer with a welcoming smile and twinkling blue eyes.
The survival spirit of my ancestors flows through my veins. Like for so many Americans, the Ellis Island immigrant story remains etched in my family history, like a badge of courage.
In the past, emigrants hailed from predominately white European countries. Our present day refugees come from farther south nearer the equator line where due to climate skin colors can be darker.
Our stories as descendants of refugees, immigrants and slaves are one’s of perseverance and resiliency surviving the hardships of poverty and surmounting the evils of bondage.
Our people were not born on easy street with silver spoons in their mouth. The European, Asian and African immigrants, refugees and former slaves served in the military, paid taxes, and honored our flag. They worked hard at low paying jobs laying roads, planting fields and building schools. They suffered human losses greater than we can imagine.
Before we mandate measures with such far-reaching consequences as travel bans, we must be sure to have our « alternate facts » straight too.
« The list of countries banned makes no sense, » said Hasni Abidi, a Swiss specialist of the Arab world. According to the New-York based Soufan Group, ISIS recruits primarily from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, and Jordan, countries not listed in the ban and with close ties to the US for most of them.
Chechen brothers committed the Boston Marathon attack, a man of Afghan origin (born in USA) committed the Orlando shoot out, and Pakistanis opened fire in San Bernardino.
Within days of taking office, in a violation of our most fundamental rights on which our country was founded, our President’s nationalistic rhetoric and actions have already alarmed and estranged our strongest allies.
Before we go imposing orders, building walls, and creating more barriers, keep in mind our nation was founded on the principals of religious freedom and built on the backs of « foreigners » slaves, refugees and immigrants.