Many Americans who (like me) have an ancestor who came from England, Ireland, Italy, Germany, France, Russia, Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America or Africa, may lay claim to being from a country that at some time has been seen as a terrible place for them to live; many fled famine, poverty, war, oppression or persecution. Collectively they have made America the great country that it is.
When Donald Trump recently characterized Haiti, and African and Latin American nations as “s---hole” countries whose immigrants we don’t want, he damaged the very premise of America as a nation of immigrants. Unlike many countries, the U.S. is not an ethnic identity, a race. It has since its establishment been a place of many peoples. Our culture is distinguished by and admired for its diversity, for welcoming people seeking the possibility to live free, productive lives. This has been confirmed to me by many international visitors with whom I have worked. They marvel at the diversity and complexity and richness of American culture.
A misguided president must not be permitted to change this American narrative by his historic, hateful attribution of “s---hole countries” to nations which now face problems. We should continue to welcome dreamers who seek our shores as we once provided opportunity and shelter to persecuted Puritans, Mennonites and Jews, starving Irish, and Vietnamese boat people.
At this shameful moment in our history and we should lift our voices in rebutting this disgraceful narrative. Give us your tired, your poor.
Marilyn Keat, State College