A friend of mine sums it up nicely:
Yesterday was a crazy day. To say the least. It started with the confirmation that the United States is banning not only refugees and visa holders, but Permanent Residents from their own homes. This would’ve been me, just four short years ago. This could’ve been me, today, had I not won the lottery of my life and had not known Stephanie. This is my brother, my parents, and the majority of my friends. Just two days ago, everybody was sure that no one can deny a Green Card holder entry without going to court. Last night, we were happy that Green Card holders who were handcuffed and detained were finally released thanks to a federal judge granting a stay on the Executive Order. Far lower standard compared to two days ago, I know, but apparently this is the new America we live in.
A friend put me in touch with CNN last night and I had a long and nice conversation with them. I explained that the Iranian-American community is scared, and the state of the community is defined by fear. I also noted that we all had the option to go anywhere else in the world but we decided to stay here and become Americans. In fact, the number of “told ya”s I got yesterday, from those who had chosen to live elsewhere was by itself quite overwhelming. What would you respond? The United States granted many visas and permanent residencies and it did not make good on its promise. What was there to defend? I have lived in this country for 13 years under both Republican and Democratic administrations, and for the first time I am scared. I was not scared when I arrived and everything was new, yet I am scared today when I know everyone and have friends and family. It is quite sad if you think about it.
Yesterday bore some good news. I learned that the civil society acts swiftly and there are many who care for American values. I learned that this is still the America where a judge can stop Injustice and where there are non-governmental organizations standing by to defend human rights. I learned that our friends and family are there for us with all the messages and phone calls we received. I learned that there are politicians who stand with us regardless of the political cost. And lastly, the support I received from my wife was so immense that it still tears me up when I think about it.
Yet yesterday had bad news as well; bad news that probably outweigh the good ones. People flew to the United States with all their documents in order and were returned to where they had come from. Thousands were not allowed to board planes in Europe. A friend just texted saying her friend had been stuck at the Amsterdam airport for 27 hours and they don’t let her board a plane. Another friend saw her parents returned from the airport after a 20-hour flight. The stories I heard yesterday, I never thought I would hear in America. Worse news? In the midst of this disorder, only five Republicans spoke up. Out of 292, that’s less than two percent, and it did not include the Speaker of the House, or the senate majority leader. Even worse news? There were many who did not care about the fact that no person from the seven banned countries had EVER committed a terrorist attack in the United States. It simply did not matter. The unconstitutionality of it did not matter. Many wrote comments on social media stating that President Trump is simply trying to make America safe and told others to go back to the shit hole they had come from. Many laughed at the idea that scientists, actors, business owners, and ordinary law abiding citizens were impacted by this Executive Order. Many did not see the fact that this is not a temporary ban, but a permanent ban on these seven countries. The Executive Order demands that the state departments in those countries release background information on the traveler’s ideas on freedom and gay rights among other things. The state departments in almost all of those countries have not had any correspondence with the US state department for years, if ever, and even if they did, why would they release such information on their citizens? The worst news of them all? The Department of Homeland Security initially told the White House that the Executive Orders cannot be applied to permanent residents but received an “Oh it does” from Steve Bannon. The fact that Mr. Bannon can so easily go above the law and issue an order against the rights of many, is the most frightening part of this whole issue, especially given his colorful background.
How can we stand together when we are so divided? 13 years ago, when I arrived in America, the standard was to not “stereotype” and not paint a whole group of people with the same brush. On Friday, the immigrant community was judged by its bottom 0.00001 percent. Honestly, even that number does not apply in this case as the number of terrorist attacks on US soil by the citizens of the banned countries was zero. On the other hand, the immigrant community is supposed to understand that the “average” Trump voter is not racist and has nothing personally against them. In other words, those who are judged based on the bottom 0.00001 percent in their communities are supposed to judge some others based on their 50 percent average. You see why that’s difficult? The only thing that I can say at this point, is that we should try to judge the policies and not the people. Policies may be extremely racist and it is OK to simply state that. People who support those policymakers though, may have simply voted that way because of an increased insurance premium. Ad hominem attacks are easy yet extremely destructive, and that’s not what people on either side would want for a country this divided.
If you are with me and are still reading this book, I have one more thing to say. My Facebook will get far more political and it will be pointed at the current administration. I hope I’m wrong but for far less than what happened yesterday, horrible things have happened in history (In fact, I would ask my historian friends to make these parallels and write them in simple easy-to-understand language). The price for remaining silent could be extremely high and many reached out to me yesterday as a result of the Facebook posts so it works! I very recently unfriended about 100 people and whoever is left on my Facebook has personally touched my life in one way or another. If you decide to unfollow or even unfriend, I totally understand. I love all of you. I strive to leave no place for hate in this heart.
Let’s now keep calling the congressmen, the work still continues.