I am now ashamed Dewey Bartlett is the mayor of Tulsa, and happy he is not my mayor. In a face book post on November 16, he said “I’m currently drafting a letter to President Obama urging him not to accept any more Syrian refugees into our country and we should have never allowed this to begin with.”
With this, he joins other Republicans in exhibiting fear and isolationism. This is not new.
John Adams said that his biggest regret was signing the Alien and Sedition Act. We also locked up Japanese Americans in WWII.
But fear and hate against the other has always been palpably present in the country: Scotch-Irish (1763-1775), Irish and Germans (1846-55), Eastern and Southern Europeans (1892-1914), Mexicans and other Latinos (1982-2007), Chinese and others from the Far East, Catholics. We have burnt witched, blacklisted supposed communists and used fear in elections—Nixon said of Helen Douglas in a 1950 Senate campaign that she was “pink right down to her underwear.”
We have never truly lived up to the inscription on our gift from France:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
It’s easy to say we believe something, but our true nature comes out when under pressure. Perhaps we should remove the poem from Lady Liberty.