by William Skink
Today is the day, people. Across our beautiful state people are going to hashtag rise above fear to help the victims of US foreign policy flee the terrorist breeding ground called Syria. I’m sure that this rally coinciding with SUPER TUESDAY primary voting across the country is just a coincidence.
Partisans are still getting good mileage from this refugee issue. A former Montana Supreme Court Justice recently joined the fray with a guest post at Cowgirl. Here is Jim Nelson’s two concluding paragraphs:
There is the juxtaposition. On the one hand, the self-proclaimed “blessed child of God” viciously challenging another citizen to “Come and get it”— the America’s flag. And, on the other, our Statute of Liberty proclaiming to the world, “Come and get it”—freedom, solace, affirmance and refuge. The protester hoisting our flag in hate; and our Mother of Exiles uplifting her torch of imprisoned lightning welcoming to our shores all tempest-tossed huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
Each will decide who best represents his or her understanding of patriotism and proclaimed religious values. Each will decide what it means to be an American in an America of refugees and immigrants. We will build our walls and draw within ourselves, cowering in a stupor of ignorance, paranoia and schizophrenia. Or, we will rise in strength, committed to our highest and best values as Americans and stand with the mighty woman with the torch.
For me, the Lady has it right: “Come and get it.”
For me, neither side of this false dichotomy is worth supporting, but creating a dichotomy is politically advantageous–a version of the Bush declaration that you are either with us or against us.
The reasons for not supporting the anti-refugee factions are obvious: the threat they perceive is not real. The most cynical argument has been the alleged concern for American women, cynical because those making the argument probably overlap significantly with the religious ideology that would impose its will on wombs.
The reasons for not supporting the most recent hashtag campaign to rise above fear is probably less obvious, but I’ll take another stab at it.
If there was a genuine effort to rise above fear, I would be seeing some actual effort to understand where this fear is coming from. Instead what I see is what I’ve been pointing out: a persistent, politicized campaign to label and ridicule those sorry few who show up to stupid anti-refugee rallies as representative of the political opponents being competed with during this election season.
Nothing good will come from mocking people’s fear, especially since so much of the underlying insecurity is economic, which is an aspect of the fear that, for some reason, is hardly ever examined. I find it particularly disgusting that a former Montana Supreme Court Justice would conflate a serious mental illness like schizophrenia with opponents of relocating Syrian refugees to Montana.
(Jim, if you read this and would like to talk about Montana’s failure of a mental health system and the crisis happening in the jails and hospitals across the state, send me an email. I will educate you)
That’s the part of this forced dichotomy that neither side gets: you all need to be better educated about what is going on, and why.
Since I have the time, I think I’ll make my way to the rally today to check it out. I was going to bring a sign that said NEOLIBERALISM = REFUGEE CRISIS but I think I’ll just quietly observe the spectacle, knowing that after the primary results today our political choice in 2016 most likely will be between a racist billionaire and a neoliberal monster.