To the Editor:
Welcome to the hockey stick world!
Most sentient beings are aware of Al Gore’s 2006 movie which graphically displayed the accelerating pace of climate change as a graph that increases upward slowly for decades and then suddenly shoots up alarmingly – like a hockey stick. His “wake-up” predictions have come to pass with droughts, floods, and unprecedented severe and bizarre weather patterns. It is not going to return to normal, and reducing your driving and air travel isn’t going to arrest a very difficult future that is shaping up for our children.
Similar hockey stick-like change has been occurring in other equally concerning arenas. These include technology (advancing faster than most of us can keep up with); economics (instability, unpredictable markets, incomprehensible crypto-currencies); politics (unprecedented dysfunction, disinformation, and polarization); and geopolitics (chaos in our relationships with Europe, Russia, China, N. Korea, Latin America, and the Middle East… simultaneously!) Much could be said about how U.S. policy since 1950 has profoundly shaped our relationship with other nations and about how the U.S. faces the rest of the world without a functional state department or secretary of state.
But I’ll reserve my major emphasis in this jeremiad to changes in our ethical values. It is easy to tut-tut about the administration’s failure to cope with the refugee crisis on our southern border. It’s equally easy to overlook the fact that 20-plus democratic candidates have failed to put forth a solution that does more than tinker with the refugee crisis. Such tinkering might include getting the American Dream and Promise Act (HR 6) past Mitch McConnell and onto the Senate floor, or opposing more money being spent on a wall projected to cost $21.6 billion. Yet no candidate suggests that we open our communities and homes to welcome refugees. That would be political suicide!
Europeans are dealing with the identical issue: unwillingness to take in immigrants means maintaining refugee camps as a permanent buffer against the intrusion of “aliens,” thereby perpetuating unconscionable suffering and misery. These camps, whether in Texas or Turkey, are hard to distinguish from P.O.W. camps and minimum security prisons.
Until very recently, I was unaware of the lucrative business of private refugee camps, in which companies – including some who are also in the private, for-profit prison business – contract with the government to build refugee shelters. How callous have we become if we and our government can countenance refugees from torture, rape, imprisonment, and homicide in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras, being characterized as criminals? It appears that we are complicit in arguments (excuses) that refugees will dilute our culture, overwhelm our medical and social services, lower our property values, behave criminally, rape our women, etc. How much has this xenophobia influenced elections?
Where is compassion? For those not already engaged or overwhelmed with compassion fatigue, I urge you to join with the wonderful efforts being made by the UNHCR, the American Friends Service Committee, or by an impressive number of churches and Jewish congregations.