Saturday, April 7, 2018

Our Immigration Problem

Ivonne Orozco
New Mexico's 2018 Teacher of the Year
and a Dreamer

Immigration is a hot topic in our country and we are so divided on how to resolve our immigrant problem  I will probably get scorched for taking on this topic.

There are basically two ways of thinking about immigration:  

1. undocumented immigrants have poured into this country illegally and are breaking our immigration laws, should be held accountable and sent back to their country of origin.

2. undocumented immigrants deserve a path to US citizenship despite the breakage of those laws and being here illegally.

I can honestly say, I can understand both viewpoints.  My grandfather emigrated from Italy to America in the 1920's.  He followed all the rules.  He entered this country legally.  He worked hard, learned English, became a US citizen and made a contribution to this country.  

He  believed he should assimilate to the American way of life and brought up his family to be Americans not transplanted Italians.  All of us have always been proud of my grandfather.  Even though Italians faced a lot of discrimination at the time he arrived, he adapted to the American way and earned the respect of his American peers.

My maternal great-grandparents also emigrated from Italy in the 1890's and legally entered the United States at Ellis Island and like my grandfather, assimilated to American life, learned to speak English, became US citizens and worked hard for everything,  They also earned the respect of their American peers.  The were all were exemplary immigrants in this country, and this country embraced them.

So, I can identify with those who want to stop the flow of illegal immigrants to our country today.  Many believe not every immigrant who wants to come to America can or should get into our country.  The immigration rules we have in place should be enforced.  The US is a country that follows the rule of law and why should immigrant lawbreakers be allowed to enter?  I don't know. 

What I have come to understand is that the answer is not all black and white.  There are many gray areas to our immigration problem.

What I do know is that hopeful immigrants from these parts of the world are fleeing poverty, violence, and oppression in numbers like we have never seen before.  Should they not be able to find refuge in the US?  Europeans want to resist them too.  In fact, immigration has become a world problem not just a US problem.

But, I digress.  Back to America.

One thing I have learned is that the immigrants coming from these countries are fleeing because of extreme poverty, violent gangs, and oppressive governments.  They run to America to ensure a better life for their children.  They want the freedoms we enjoy and take for granted for their children too.  Even if it means entering the country illegally and living in the shadows.  

One of the gray areas of our Hispanic immigration problem takes root in the 1980's.  In that era, the US looked the other way as many Hispanics entered our country illegally.  They found jobs as housekeepers, nannies, and landscapers for very little pay. They remained illegal and became a new illegal working underclass. This was advantageous to Americans, mostly whites, who wanted to pay less for their housekeepers, nannies and landscapers. Members of Congress and those in Washington government jobs all took advantage of the cheap labor.

In other words we created our own immigration problem here in America.  President Ronald Reagan realized this and that is why he gave amnesty to over one million illegal immigrants at the time.

However, Americans, always looking out for a bargain, kept hiring illegal immigrants, and kept paying them under wages under the table.  This encouraged more Hispanics to enter the US illegally for these types of jobs and so today, we have more than 11 million illegal undocumented workers in the United States, mostly Hispanics.

Now, living in New Mexico, I have seen the illegal immigration problem from a different perspective.  Most of the immigrants to New Mexico come from Mexico, Central America, and a few from South America or Spain.  Many of the New Mexican families who have lived here for 500 years still have family still living in these Hispanic countries. 

Most of the immigrants here in New Mexico are making a contribution to our country, work hard, and learn English.  And many of them are illegal.  Do I come into contact with them?  Yes, some are neighbors, some are students, some are Dreamers, and some are working in businesses here in town.

Our 2018 New Mexico Teacher of the Year, Ivonne Orozco, is a Dreamer. (DACA)  She came with her parents to this country from Mexico,  worked hard, learned English, became educated and is now contributing to our country.  She helps hundreds of students of all nationalities to excel in school.  

She wants a pathway to citizenship, despite her illegal status.  It is the children of illegal parents that are caught in that gray area.  They had no choice about entering this country as children.  The Dreamers, especially, have worked hard to get where they are today and yes, they deserve a chance to become full citizens.

There are many Hispanic children, not all that go to college, making contributions to our country.  They deserve citizenship as well.

I have worked here with children in the schools and in the Taos Children's Theater program and I can tell you that NOT having these children making their small contributions to our community would be tragic.  They are talented and smart kids and just want a chance to make a life here in the US.  

Yes, there are some illegal immigrants that don't make a contribution to our country.  Yes, they break the law, but here in New Mexico they are so far and few between all who come here.  The majority are working and want a better life.

I can't resolve the whole immigration problem here in a short essay, but our country needs to have an open conversation about real immigration reform and come up with realistic solutions.  Solutions that are win-win not win-lose.  Will that happen with Donald Trump a president who has to win at all costs and has to have a loser to feel good about himself?  

What will happen with Congress, so willing remain in gridlock on this issue because Republicans and  Democrats can not come together for the common good?

We need to go around Donald Trump to finally resolve our immigration problem.  Building a wall and putting the military on the border will only make the problem worse.  Who ever really wants to get into this country will.  We need to have a humane and realistic pathway for those here working hard in this country.

Suzannah Wolf Walker (c) 2018


Friday, November 18, 2016

What now?

It has been over a week since Trump's election to the presidency.  It has been difficult to accept that so many Americans believe this man will make their life better.  It has been difficult to accept that so many Americans are misogynist, racists, bigots, etc. just like Trump is. Violence against the vulnerable has ticked upward since his election.  It is difficult to accept that so many Americans' vision of our nation is the same as Trump's.

So, I must decide which side I am on.  I cannot remain neutral.

I am distressed and anxious for America and full of uncertainty as to how America will change - and not for the better, and for the direction America will take for the next four years.

The words President and Trump are an oxymoron.

I can hardly bring myself to put those two words together and not choke on them.  But, what Trump, the demagogue, has been spouting for the last year, is really just the Republican Platform of the RNC.

That scares me even more.  When reading the Republican Platform I was looking for a shimmer of light or a glimmer of hope for America, but finding none.

To read the Republican Platform, go to and be sure to click on and read the FULL Republican Platform for 2016 and not just the abridged edition.

For purposes of this blog, I shall highlight four sections of the platform:

The Preamble


Social Security


I chose the preamble for basic information and the last three because they are what are most important to me.

In the preamble the Republican Party states its general beliefs and creed in the United States of America is:

"We affirm - as did the Declaration of Independence that all are created equal, endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." (p.1)

So far, so good.

As we know, their major platform is one of government reform.

"The more it (government) intrudes in every aspect of American life, the  more it alienates the citizens who work, pay taxes, and wonder what has happened to 'the country they love.' (p. 23)

And, here the hypocrisy begins.  Republicans don't want government intruding in American lives, but of course they want to intrude where they want to intrude:


Planned Parenthood

LGBT+ rights

They want to keep others, who have 'inalienable rights endowed by their Creator,' and interfere in their bedrooms and personal decisions in their lives.  This is "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?"  This is intrusion into American lives on the most personal and intimate level.  I don't want government there.  What happens in the bedroom is not the government's business.

So, of course, Trump's crude, vulgar language and misogynist comments about women are okay with Republicans  because who wants an 'uppity' woman for president?  She was defeated by a man and this is how life should be according to Republicans.  This is the last grasp of old white men to hang onto their power.

The Republicans want  to "modernize Medicare, empowering it on a secure financial footing." (p. 23)

Well, I want that too.

They plan to "impose no changes for persons 55 or older." (p.23)

Good to hear.

Others, those under age 55 will have the OPTION of traditional medicare or transition to a premium - a support model designed to strengthen patient choices, promote cost saving competition among providers and better guard against the fraud, and abuse that now diverts billions of dollars every year away from patient care." (p.24)

I can't stop laughing.  An OPTION?  What if everyone's OPTION is traditional medicare?
And cheaper premiums means less coverage because in this country you get what you pay for.  At a time when illnesses pick up, seniors need more coverage not less.

And, do you really believe there will be OPTIONS available?

Medicaid will be part of welfare reform. (p.24)  This is because it is too big and too flawed to be administered by the federal government so it will be administered from the states, according to the platform.

So, those receiving medicaid from wealthier states will have better health care, and those receiving medicaid from poorer states will have insufficient and incompetent health care.

This is "all are created equal?"  But, we will have unequal health care for our most vulnerable, especially our children.

According to the platform, states will have block granting to allow states to EXPERIMENT with different systems to address health, mental health and develop successful models to be replaced in states across the nation.  How long will this EXPERIMENT take?   We are going to EXPERIMENT with human lives?  We are going to EXPERIMENT with the most
vulnerable in our nation, the poor, the mentally ill and children?

And, of course with Republican Medicaid comes more government interference in women and their families' lives.

"We respect the states authority and flexibility to EXCLUDE abortion providers from federal programs such as  Medicaid and other health care and family planning programs so long as they continue to perform or refer to elective abortions or sell body parts of aborted children." (I assume this means stem cells)

Again, some states will adopt this and some won't insuring discrimination against some and not others.  So the women who can't afford to go to another state to receive all types of health care will be discriminated against.

When it comes to Social Security the Republican agenda is to preserve and modernize a secure retirement system.  Current retirees and those close to retirement can be assured of their benefits.  

Well, that's good.

All options should be considered to preserve Social Security. (p. 24 - 25).  Then, they turn around and say they oppose, "tax increases and believe in the power of markets to create wealth and to help secure the future of our Social Security system."

Again, I can't stop laughing  We are going to leave funding of Social Security to "the power of the markets to create wealth.?"  Just like how the economic and stock market crash in 2008 depleted everyone's 401K?  This is their answer to a secure Social Security system?

Immigration is the hot topic of this president-elect and the Republican party.  According to the Republican Platform, "Our party is the natural home for those who come in search of freedom and justice.  We welcome all to the Great Opportunity Party. (GOP) (p. 25)

Unless, of course, you are Muslim or Syrian refugees.  These people the party does not want. Setting up a religious list or a tracking system does not offer freedom and justice to immigrants. 

The Director of the FBI (Comey) has said it is not possible to fully vet all potential refugees coming to this country,   And, why not?  That is his job.   His job is to make that possible.  If he can't, will someone please fire this guy?

I agree, that all immigrants should enter our country legally and follow our immigration laws.The immigration  laws that are already on the books should be enforced.  We should not have fluid borders where everyone and anyone can enter our country,

But, if you look back to the start of the Mexican and Central American illegal immigration problem, it began under President Ronald Reagan.  Those living in DC and the environs wanted cheap labor;  cheap nannies, housekeepers, and landscapers.  So, our government looked the other way and allowed an underclass of illegal workers to develop so that they would not have to pay them over the table and also pay employment taxes.  We created our own illegal immigration problem.

That is why President Reagan gave amnesty to about one million illegal immigrants during his presidency.  Most of the jobs held by illegal immigrants are those Americans don't want to do.  So, why not give them a path to citizenship and allow them to stay and keep those jobs Americans don't want and won't take?

"Out highest priority must be to secure our borders...That is why we support building a wall along our southern border...the border wall must cover the entirety of the southern border and must be sufficient to stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic." (p.25)

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

The wall has been part of the Republican Platform all along, and this is not just "The Donald's" idea.  

The Republican Platform is what is scary and Trump is just its mouthpiece.  All those Republicans that would not endorse Trump or would not condone what he says, are now jumping on the bandwagon and pushing for jobs in his presidential administration.  It is sickening to see them act as lap dogs ready to jump at Trump's snap of the fingers.

So which side am I on?  I am on the side of truth and decency. I am on the side that is inclusive and not exclusive.  I am on the side of a diverse nation because my grandfather and great grandparents were immigrants from Italy and they gave much to this country to make it a stronger and a better nation. My German ancestors came as immigrants and fought in the American Revolution and took part in the building a nation.  I am on the side that breaks down walls, not puts walls up.  I am on the side that does not see the federal government as interfering in our lives but in making our lives more just and free for all.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A President Trump?

The voters have spoken.

Now, we have Donald J. Trump as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.  

How does this happen when some months ago we all said it couldn't?  He is a joke. He is a clown.  He is a flash in the pan. No one will actually vote for him.  He panders to the worst in the country and won't last a month.  

Here we are some months later and the unthinkable is happening.  How can this be?   

As he  campaigns for the highest and most prestigious job in the land - President of the United States - and the leader of the free world, we have learned he is a narcissist,  a racist, a demagogue, xenophobic, nationalistic, authoritative and a bully who uses intimidation to get his way.

He continues to contradict himself during his speeches.  No one can pin him down on how he plans to achieve his promise of "Making America Great Again!" And this all appeals to his Republican voters.

How does this happen?  It happens because Trump taps into the frustration, anger, loneliness, and the disconnect of Republican voters, because the majority of  Republican voters are not the wealthy and well-heeled, but the downtrodden middle class. 

Republican representatives in Washington capsule themselves in the Washington Beltway bubble, and appeal only to the intellectuals and wealthy in this country, not to the middle class. They have forgotten the common man.  They repeatedly promise to help the middle class and then betray them by pandering to the rich. 

And, because of this, those with the least education, but, even some that are well-educated, are flocking to his side and voting for him.  No matter how many editorials are written or how many broadcasters speak against the growing phenomenon of Trump, he still wins.


Because, many Republican voters perceive Trump to be authentic.  They like him because Trump is Trump. He puts his largess personality out there.  He is who he is and that is what is appealing to voters.  He speaks with frankness.   He is a racist and doesn't apologize for it.  He is a misogynist and doesn't apologize for it.  In fact, when confronted with that and his infidelity and three marriages, he embraces it and boasts of his sexual prowling and owns it. That is what the voters love about Donald Trump.

He doesn't profess conservative Christian values and then secretly philander.  He is a philanderer out there in the open for all to see.

Trump doesn't apologize for whom or what he is.  He is a billionaire (so he says though we have no proof) and he flaunts it.  As the saying goes, "if you got it, flaunt it."  And he does.

The voters perceive this as authentic.  It doesn't matter what outrageous thing he says, or that he contradicts himself the next day, he is just being Donald Trump and the voters have embraced him.  And Trump embraces them right back.  It's called the "art of the deal," that he has made with his constituents. 

When he intimidates other candidates and calls them names like "little Marco," "Lyin' Ted" and "Crooked Hillary," they love it because he is the playground bully and, something that deep inside, they want to be as well.  They love him because he doesn't stand for any political correctness.  They love it because he sticks it to the Republican establishment, something many Republican voters have wanted to do for years.

Trump  also gives his voters a platform to vent their anger.  He hints at and encourages physical protest at his opponents' speeches. He has predicted riots if he is not the Republican nominee come July in Cleveland.  

He vents their anger as he threatens party leaders with steamrolling over them if they don't do his bidding. He has given the same statements to foreign leaders.  Mexico will pay for that border wall. . . or else.    And his voters love it. They eat it up.

It is apparent that our country has lost its way.  When the majority of Republican voters see Trump as their 'savior" for all that is wrong with our country, we are in a world of hurt. 

They love his authority because that is what they want for themselves.  They are living through Trump vicariously and he speaks to them in a language they understand.

But, what ultimately happens to the playground bully?  He continues to bully, but one day someone stands up to him.  Someone finally says, "no more."  Who will that someone be? A party leader?   A national leader?  A foreign leader?  A foreign enemy?  And what, then, will we have left?  Nothing but a sniveling coward.

What does all this tell the Republican establishment?  They need to come down off their high horses and reconnect with their voters.  They need to appeal to the middle-class and, for example, cut taxes for them, not just the wealthy.  Trickle-down economics does not work and hasn't for the last thirty-some years.  

The Republican party and its leaders need to lead.  They need to give Republican voters what they are asking for and help all Americans, just not their selective few.  They need to provide us with an alternative to Trump, someone who professes our country's values and wants to really help the common man and not themselves.  They need to stop holding our democratic process hostage as they are doing with the current Supreme Court vacancy. 

We really are teetering on the cusp of anarchy if Trump wins the presidency.  Our party system and our ability to govern is breaking down and what will replace it?  Who will decide the direction our country will take in this world?

Instead of reporting on who will or will not support Trump in the presidential election, we need to ask far more relevant and important questions about the role our parties will take in the political process when the November election falls out.  What will be left of our "democracy" and our "democratic process" if Trump wins?  What will the Republican party become and for what will it stand?

When is the Republican establishment going to wake up?  They are still in deep denial.  Trump has been their intervention, but they are still wallowing in their same self-delusion.

Copyright  Suzannah Wolf Walker  2016  all rights reserved.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Scalia's death leaves a huge vacancy on the Supreme Court

Antonin Scalia, 79, the first Italian-American appointed to the Supreme Court, has passed away yesterday while on a hunting trip in Texas.  It is believed he died in his sleep of natural causes. 

Scalia was a giant on this Supreme Court, appointed in 1986 by President Reagan, and was the longest sitting justice on today's court. He was an intellectual conservative and a strict originalist in his interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.  That means he believed in the words our Founding Fathers wrote as the meaning of the constitution and they always should be interpreted as so. 

He did not believe in social activism in interpreting the constitution as he did not see our constitution as a 'living document.'  What our Founding Fathers meant in the 1780's is what our constitution means today in the 21st century, according the Scalia.

He was actually opposed to the majority opinion of Brown vs. Board of Education in ending public school segregation and said many times that the constitution did not guarantee non-segregated schools; therefore, he believed segregated schools were not a violation of our constitution and could be allowed.

He was a strict proponent of the 2nd Amendment of the right to bear arms, although he did believe automatic weapons could be banned under our constitution.

He was nearly apoplectic over abortion and gay rights.  He was against abortion (he was Catholic) in all instances and against gay rights and vehemently against same sex marriages.

And it was Scalia who lead the Supreme Court to choose George W. Bush as president by stopping the Florida vote count and denying Al Gore full due process.

His majority written opinions were many times vitriolic, caustic, and acerbic.  His minority opinions were scathing and he took no prisoners.  

Needless to say, he was my least favorite of the Supreme Court justices.  As the old adage goes, "if you can't say something nice about someone, it is better to say nothing at all." Enough said.

Today, President Obama is in the important position of being able to nominate a person to fill Scalia's vacancy on the Supreme Court, and he should do so.  It is his responsibility to do so as president and as leader of the Executive Branch of the government.

Republicans who have called for him, as a lame duck president, not to nominate someone and leave it to the next president, because the 'people' should do the choosing by who they elect in 2016, are disingenuous at best.

The people have chosen by electing Obama as president.  So the people do want President Obama to nominate our next Supreme Court justice.  It is ridiculous for any president, Democrat or Republican, not to nominate a qualified person to a vacant seat on the Supreme Court, lame duck or not. This is a decision that is part of our democracy as a nation and not a decision that is partisan. 

If the tables were turned and George W. Bush was the lame duck president, Republicans would be shouting that Bush should be nominating someone to fill the vacancy.

Now, we are in for more gridlock and dysfunction in Washington as the Republicans once more hold our government hostage by refusing to allow Senate hearings for Scalia's successor.  There is no precedent for what they are doing.

The checks and balances of our constitution with its three branches of government, the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial, should be and would be upheld by Scalia.  It is what the Founding Fathers wrote and what they wanted.  The Republicans are hypocritical at best in this situation.

Copyright  2016  Suzannah Wolf  Walker  all rights reserved.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Insidious ISIS


This is what ISIS stands for.  Beheading anyone that does not accept its crazed form of Islamic religion or live the life of a working caliphate in the middle east.

To achieve their warped goals, ISIS sends terrorists world-wide to kill and wreck havoc upon innocent people in the name of Allah.  They are a world-wide poison and so far the world has not found an antidote.

They recruit new missionaries daily and at such a rate that the world cannot keep up with them.

Their poison has entered our political presidential run, and kidnapped rational candidates and the Republican electorate by instilling stark fear in the hearts and minds of Americans. We behaved more rationally after 9/11 than we are now.

What can we do to eliminate this poison from our world?

President Obama recently admitted that he underestimated the fear Americans have against ISIS and the fact that they don't understand his position for fighting ISIS.

He is against sending more troops to Syria and Iraq and "putting boots on the ground," for which the Republicans are calling.

His answer is to send special forces over to work with the Iraqis and Kurds and bomb the ISIS strongholds as long as it does not kill innocent bystanders.  He cites the chaos that descended on the middle east by our muddled attempt to bring "regime change to Iraq", and which opened a vacuum for ISIS to fill.  On that he has a strong point.

However,he seems flummoxed that ISIS has an encryption code used on the Internet that "hides" their most potent messages and recruitment.  ISIS fighters are smart and savvy and beat us at every turn, creating more insidious ways to attack us and recruit the young Muslims living in our country.

Again, we can turn to history as a guide when it comes to breaking an encryption code.

Bletchy Park, Buckinghamshire, England

During WWII, Bletchy Park, located in Buckinghamshire, England, became the central site for Britain's code breakers.  The best and the brightest gathered here to break the secret communications of the Axis powers and most importantly the German Enigma Lorenz ciphers.  It is said that the ultra-intelligence done here shortened the war by two to four years.

Granted, the German encryption codes were not splashed on the Internet, but were private, but the same thing can be done today to fight ISIS codes and recruitment tools.

Why is our government not gathering the best and the brightest computer technologists to break the encryption code ISIS uses on the Internet?  Why is this not a major focus in the war on ISIS?

It is on the Internet, Facebook, and Twitter where ISIS thrives and reaches a mass audience.  So we need to stop ISIS  here as well as in the middle east.  We need warriors on both fronts of this war.

I don't understand our country's reticence in this.  If we can oversee and hunt the social media and Internet to catch pornographers and pedophiles, how can we not do the same with ISIS?

Why aren't we using every method possible to stop ISIS in its tracks?  We might not catch all ISIS terrorists, but we can do better a catching more.

Freedom of speech is cited as to why there is hesitation to go after ISIS on the Internet, yet our Supreme Court has said freedom of speech does not allow someone to yell FIRE in a crowded theater.

Therefore, freedom of speech does not allow terrorists to recruit, to plot against us or to post threatening messages on Twitter and Facebook.

If we don't take these measures pretty quickly, the war of terror and ISIS will continue for years to come.  As in the medieval Crusades, it could last hundreds of years.

Let's remember the past and take measures in the present to rid the world of the insidious ISIS poison.

Copyright 2015  Suzannah Wolf Walker  all rights reserved

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Trump - definitely a concern

Japanese interment camp during WWII in the U.S.

As time marches on and we get closer and closer to the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, Donald Trump is flourishing as the Republican front runner in those states and across the nation.

What everyone said, that he was a flash in the pan, he has shown us he is not, and he has a following of Americans that like and support his candidacy.  

The Silent Majority are in Trump's hands right now.  And how many of the Silent Majority are out there?   We don't know because some are remaining Silent.

Trump trumps himself with more outrageous comments each day that paint a dark future for America based on fear, zealotry, racism, and bigotry.  His brush with fascism is truly frightening.

His latest promise, that under his presidency all Muslims, with no exceptions, would be barred from  from entering the U.S.,and he included even those Muslim American citizens traveling outside the country will be barred as well is beyond the pale.

He has walked back his statement by saying he wants to bar Muslims only temporarily (how long is 'temporary' and how will it be determined?) and not any that are citizens of the United States.   Until we find out "what is going on" there will be no admittance of Muslims. No safe haven here for refugees fleeing the ISIS caliphate.

He previously said he wants to round up all undocumented workers and send them back to their countries of origin.  Eleven million of them.  Where will they be housed until they are processed to leave?  Detention camps?  

International leaders have publicly denounced Trump and shake their heads in sadness that this is what is happening in the U.S.

Many news pundits are claiming Trump will not be be president let alone the Republican presidential candidate.  I am not so sure about that.  We all thought Trump would have crashed and burned by now, but he is flying high at the moment.  Each outlandish comment he makes causes more supporters to flock to his cause.

Pundits are also saying that Trump could never bar Muslims from the U.S. because it would be unconstitutional.  But, just look back to WWII after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and see what was done to contain Japanese-Americans legally and constitutionally.

Through Executive Order 9066, President Franklin Roosevelt declared all Japanese and Japanese-Americans on the West Coast were to be rounded up and sent to interment camps where they were to remain until the end of the war.

Relocation, evacuation, and evacuees were some of the euphemisms used at the time to explain to the rest of the country what was happening to them.

The truth is, through Roosevelt's executive order, approximately 110,000 Japanese and Japanese-American men, women and children were robbed of their rights, property, and due process of law in the name of "national security."  Japanese immigrants were denied American citizenship.

Do you really think Trump would not do the same to the Muslims?   In the name of national security, he could do the same as Roosevelt.  He certainly could ban them from the U.S. through an executive order as Roosevelt did.  

As French President Francois Holland has claimed, we are at war with ISIS.  Trump has said the same thing.

The Japanese were 'relocated' to barbed wire compounds and hastily constructed prison barracks throughout the nation.

If it could happen then, it could happen now.

So deep was the persecution and prejudice against the Japanese and Japanese-Americans that newspaper columnist Henry McLemore said,  

          "I am for the immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to 
          deep in the interior . . . Herd 'em up, pack 'em off, and give 'em the inside
          room in the badlands . . . Personally, I hate the Japanese.  And that goes
          for all of them."

Fortunately, I have not heard any news people express those sentiments about Muslims so far and I don't think they will.  But, I have heard some Americans voice those sentiments about Muslims.   Americans are nervous and frightened right now and so they blame a whole people rather than just the few who are radicalized.  Some have even issued death threats to mosques and Muslim leaders throughout America.

There was so much fear of the Japanese in America that entire libraries of Japanese literature were destroyed to erase the Japanese community's literary history.  Remind you of the book burning of Jewish books and literature during the Nazi days of Germany?

All of this through Roosevelt's executive orders.  Is this really the type of nation we want to become today?   Trump would do this in heartbeat.

The Japanese and Japanese-Americans, however, kept their literature alive as poetry clubs flourished in the interment camps.  Somehow they found a way not to let their dignity and humanity die along with their American rights.

Two examples of haiku, from the camp poetry clubs, that were written during Japanese interment:

                                               Autumn foliage
                                               California has now become
                                               a far country.

                                               ~ Yajin Nakao

                                               Frosty night
                                               listening to rumbling train
                                               we have come a long way.

                                               ~ Senbinski Takaoka

Do we really want to return to these dark days in American history?  By supporting and voting for Donald Trump, who plays on American's fears, those days may nearer in our future that we think.

Copyright  2015  Suzannah Wolf Walker  all rights reserved


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Trump's ban on Muslims - there is precedent

Jewish on the USS St Louis trying to emigrate from Germany in 1939.   No one would take them in.
So much has been said about and Donald Trump has been reviled because of his statements made about banning all Muslims from entering the U.S., with no exceptions, in the face of the San Bernardino murders and shootings by radicalized Islamists.  The Republican field of presidential candidates, thankfully, have denounced Trump and his ban.  Many others throughout the nation have denounced him also.

What is so dangerous and eerie about what is happening today is it rings true about another time in our history when fear gripped our nation.

I have heard many pundits on the news programs claim that there is absolutely no precedent to Trump's proposed ban of Muslims here in the U.S.

But, sadly, there are precedents to what he wants to do about the Muslims in America and Muslims and others trying to come to America.

We have to go all the way back to 1939, but precedent does exist.

On May 13, 1939 the ship, the USS St. Louis, left northern Germany filled with nine hundred Jewish people who were fleeing Germany because of Hitler's persecution against the them.  They were the last Jewish people to leave Germany before Hitler closed Germany's borders.

They hoped to reach Cuba and from there travel to the U.S.  When they arrived at Havana, Cuba they were turned away and denied entrance and forced to return to Europe.  The captain then steered the St. Louis towards the Florida coast.  They were refugees and asked for safe haven and entrance into the U.S.  Despite, several direct appeals to President Franklin Roosevelt, U.S. authorities refused them the right to dock at U.S. ports and enter the country.

 Roosevelt's reasoning for keeping them out was he was too worried about the potential flood of immigrants.  Sound familiar?   We have Syrian refugees and middle easterners today seeking entrance and safe haven in the U.S..

So, the USS St. Louis was forced to return to Germany.  More than 250 of the Jewish on the St. Louis were killed by Germany's Nazis.  This would not have happened had the U.S. taken them in.

Is this what we want the U.S., a country founded on freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to deny Muslims entrance to the U.S. based on their religious affiliation and their countries of origin?  Do we really want to go all the way back to 1939 and repeat what President  Franklin did?  Aren't we better than that today? 

Memoir by Monica Itoi Sone

Another shameful precedent is what President Roosevelt did through executive order to the Japanese and Japanese-Americans living on the west coast of the U.S. after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

This is painfully revealed by Monica Itoi Sone's memoir, Nisei Daughter, that tells the story of her life growing up Japanese-American in the U.S. before and during WWII.

Monica was born on American soil to Japanese immigrant parents, called Issei in Japanese. Monica was known as Nisei or second generation Japanese-American citizen in Japanese. 
During the tim1e leading up to WWII and long after there were strict laws preventing Issei from becoming American citizens.  This happened even though their children born on American soil were American citizens and even though their sons fought in the U.S. Army against Japan.

Such discrimination is what we are talking about today and which Donald Trump is proposing. 

Sone's memoir goes on to tell how it was difficult for her, as a Nisei, to fully assimilate into the American mainstream because of widespread fear and prejudice toward the Japanese during the first half of the 20th century.

It foreshadows what the Muslim immigrants are going through today in the U.S.  With Americans so nervous and frightened about Islamic terrorist attacks, there is widespread fear and prejudice toward Muslims especially those who practice Islam.  Trump says it's okay to profile them.  He encourages, and so does the U.S. government to a degree, for Americans to report on Muslims if they have any suspicions of radicalization.  Again, so similar to WWII and what Hitler encouraged Germans to do against the Jewish population.  Hitler's Youth program even encouraged children to report on their parents.

As WWII aproached, Sone, in her memoir, tells of the harsh persecution Japanese and Japanese-Americans faced who lived on the West Coast.  Sone was a Nisei living in Seattle, Washington when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941.  The memoir records the loss of her rights as an American citizen as her family was forced to relocate to an interment camp in Idaho.

While teaching in Canton, Ohio, I had the privilege of meeting Monica Sone in person.  We read her memoir, Nisei Daughter, in our 8th grade Language Arts classes.  She came to speak to students and teachers about her experiences and writing her memoir.  

Monica Itoi Sone
Sone is a lovey, soft spoken woman who, amazingly, is not bitter about her experiences of dealing with prejudice and persecution against her and her family and their eventual relocation to an interment camp.  She has focused on her family's resiliency in a time of adversity and their willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of the country (U.S.) they love.

When she spoke to us it was in hope to educate, especially the students, so that what she experienced would never happen again in the U.S. or anywhere for that matter.  It was to show students how to deal with adversity of the most horrid kind.

However, here we are just at the same crossroads we were at more than fifty years ago.  Will we react the same way as we did in the 20th century or have are we become more enlightened now that we are in the 21st century?

Remember, those who do not learn from their history are doomed to repeat it.