As an optimist, I look for the positive in all things. Sometimes, it is all but impossible to find. Yet, even within the turbulence of the first week of the Trumping of America, there is a shiny element of good.
Trump pulled the bandage off the ugly festering wound that is prejudice in the form of nationalism in America. His rabid bulldog approach to immigration offers an opportunity. Now that we see this insidious infection, we can treat it.
There are those who support these policies celebrating in the street. Proud in their contempt for everything and everyone they perceive as un-American.
Keep out the terrorist.
Build that wall.
Tax the Mexican products to make them pay.
The only thing missing is goose-stepping thugs ensuring compliance. But it’s only been a week.
I travel out of the country quite often. Never, in all the time I’ve been doing this, have I ever been anything but proud of my country. Yet, this time in Costa Rica, I could sense a difference in the perception of the United States.
They felt sorry for us. So did the Canadians on the trip with us. It was as if the sports legend used steroids. Our reputation tarnished and diminished.
America has always offered hope to the world. Our openness and willingness to accept others, no matter where they came from, perceived as a strength, not a vulnerability.
That we, as a people, were willing to risk the harm of a few to offer an opportunity to the many was evidence of our courage.
That perception is fading. We are becoming a huge paranoid isolated society, shying away from our fellow man.
No measure of border protection or walls can stop a determined enemy. Every effort to strengthen the openness of the America I love chips away at those whose hopelessness is the source of these terrorists.
Every effort to prevent the rest of the world from coming in diminishes us.
This is no longer a disconnected world. Something that happens in Des Moines, Iowa can have an effect in Berlin. Something that happens in Seoul, South Korea can affect Boston, Massachusetts.
As history shows, something planned in medieval-like Afghanistan can affect New York.
The solution is not simple, making the problem worse is.
Words matter. Perceptions matter. The words announcing this blockade of immigration carry more than simple meaning. Wiping Islamic terror from the face of the earth. Opening our doors to Christian, but not Muslim, immigrants from Syria. These all play into the hands of those who twist the words of the Quran into a recruiting tool.
Christians, Jews, and Muslims all worship the same Abrahamic God. They interpret the words in a different manner. The issues in the Middle East are not a recent phenomenon. The Palestinian problem is thousands of years older than the United States.
The issue of asymmetric warfare, in the form of terrorism, is not solved by the stroke of a pen or a wall.
The solution is an open and courageous people willing to stand up to the risk of terror. One way to do that is by living in a country that serves as an example, not a convenient target.
The whole world is watching us. Those that are our friends are scratching their heads trying to come to grips with this new America. Those who wish us harm are taking delight in their ability to imprison the Great Satan behind a wall.
To borrow a line from the song by Lee Greenwood, “I am proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.” How long will those words ring true?
If the American people no longer have the courage to keep our society open, our pride will disappear.
We, the people, are better than that.