Why Do You Hate Us?

It wasn’t too long ago, that thousands of women and children from Central America, traveled hundreds of miles to our border seeking refuge from poverty and violence.  After surviving this harrowing journey and surrendering peacefully to authorities, these refugees were then greeted by xenophobic racists, demonized by the media, crammed into overfilled detention centers, and today many have been deported.

It wasn’t too long ago, that the world was galvanized by the image of little Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach. We were all horrified something like this could happen today. We all used it as a reminder of how bad it is “over there”, and then we did nothing. While Germany, a country significantly smaller than us, has agreed to take 100,000 Syrian refugees, we the United States of America, supposedly the richest, most powerful, most exceptional, and most moral, nation in the world, have only taken 16,000 refugees. It is so easy for us to feel bad for “those people over there”, to post a picture on Facebook, for politicians to say their prayers are with the refugees. But when refugees show up on our border, and it’s longer “over there”, our empathy suddenly withers. We try to justify this, we say “they” are a security threat, “they” have different values, we say “they’” are criminals and rapists. We ask the question, “Why do they hate us?” Forgetting that as a nation of immigrants, that “they” are actually us.

Far from showing more compassion towards refugees, and immigrants in general, our rhetoric has become even more vitriolic. Between Donald Trump’s comments about Latino immigrants, and now President Trump’s executive order, it is clear our politics has reached a very dark place. We always claim sympathy for “those poor people over there” but when opportunities arise for us to actually step up and take in refugees our xenophobic politics take over. That’s what we saw last weekend. We saw a 5 year old kid handcuffed and detained for hours without his mother. We saw an Iraqi family who translated on behalf of the U.S. military, protecting our soldiers, who sold all their possessions, and who waited two years to come here, get deported back. We saw the hopes of millions of Syrian refugees crushed. This is by no means a new phenomenon; we have a history of turning our backs to those seeking refuge here, the most infamous example being the 1930s, when thousands of Jews tried to emigrate to the U.S. from Germany but were denied. As we all know, many of those people faced a tragic fate. Today we’re doing the same thing.

If we are going to break this cycle we must stop thinking of refugees as “those people over there” but as human beings worthy of protection. But most importantly, our view of immigrants as burdens on society has to change. Which is funny given how much this country loves our foods; our burritos, our kebabs, our tacos and our hummus. It loves to try on henna and smoke hookah.  It loves to wear sombreros and drink tequila. But imagine, if this country loved us as much as it loves our cultures. Would we be deporting mothers, detaining 5 year olds, and denying entry to Iranian infants in need of medical care? No. And so it leaves me with one question, President Trump, why do you hate us?

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Egyptian American U.C. Berkeley grad Lover of books and sangria Knows all the lyrics to Hamilton, even "Guns and Ships"

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