The Shining City: Why Reject Immigration?
There is a unique thread within the origins of our country. Even waxing eloquent I wouldn’t claim our nation to be a breed of perfection, but I would assess to it the credits of excellence and new-mindedness. Those, I could see clearly. We claimed land from natives, oft in hostile, fearful, dark ways. The weight of history will hold heavy on us for that. Still, we built a creation of something new. A government of the people, drawing heavily on Enlightenment principles. A resurgence of populist government. If ever Reagan’s words rang true with me, that image of the idealized perfection of America as a Shining City upon a Hill? That struck a recurrent, vibrant, hopeful chord – and still it rings.
We were unique in that we embraced change and critical thinking. We saw new or rediscovered notions not as innately perverse, but has holding potentials and hopes. We were in many ways the seed of the Enlightenment’s best, sprouting. And all the while with so much upheaval and change, still there were recurrent efforts at building and growing from a notion of the many. We were (and are!) a nation of outsiders building something new. And abandonment of that trend with fears tied to immigration is, I fear, an abandonment of a certain sense of purpose and direction that I see great valor, wisdom, and strength in.
Immigration raises multiple, nuanced concerns in our modern day. Many see it as a topic centered on labor and opportunity while others instead view it solely as a matter of security - and both, one must understand, are seeing valid points which carry enormous weight. Within both parties there are views and voices that ring with near cacophony on this particular subject because of the inherent complexities and interwoven points.
What we cannot afford now is an abandonment of our idealism even as we acknowledge that optimism and hope carry costly risks and leave the potential for burdens. I don’t say this lightly – there is certainly a risk that must be weighed in matters of immigration with Muslim extremism and other terroristic threats. Still - I, for my part, cannot offer greater credence to the threats imagined than the hopes perceived. Reagan’s vision of America as a Shining City upon a Hill shatters to travesty when we reject those who hear the call to freedom’s embrace.
And here, at long last, we fall to the mainstream candidates: Trump & Clinton. Trump favors a wall (perhaps THE WALL in his imaginings of grandeur). And true, Reagan’s words when he spoke of the Shining City imagined possible walls - but *ALSO* doors which opened for those with the will & heart to make it there. It becomes, for me, an impossibility to imagine Reagan’s sincerity and kindness from Trump’s imaginings. Perhaps zealotry and passion for defense of country may lead some to credit Trump’s immigration views as being merited, but I find myself still mistrustful. Our need for safeguards and protections is a given, but anyone willing to turn a blind eye to the refugee crisis birthed by ISIS out of fears? It again makes me question the dedication to embracing those yearning to be free. Clinton’s proposals and views on immigration are, I’ll readily concede, matters of imperfection as well. Still – isolationism fails to strike me as the path forward for our nation. Our origins and growth have been from the intellects, ideologies, and dreams of the many. Any definitive effort to reject that trajectory on a massive scale, as Trump’s current talking points and policies do, fails to meet the standard of the beacon this nation’s President should be to those in search of freedom.
Judging those yearning for safety and freedom on the basis of their faiths or nationalities? I would prefer that we find the notion of one’s worth in his or her wit and grit, not lineage or matters of spirituality.