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  • Writer's pictureRev. Christopher Tweel

Speaking from our Fear

--from letters to the Editor in Response to Mayor David Bower's comments on internment camps in the US I admit it.

I am scared.

When mayors of nearby towns and 30 governors across the country start issuing statements about the refugees, and when those statements start making comparisons to internment camps the US created in the 1940s, I am scared.

Because when hysteria replaces courage, that is reason to fear. When self-centeredness replaces our humanity, that is reason to fear. When we as a nation made entirely of immigrants and refugees feel satisfied in supporting an isolationist mindset and a fainthearted view to others who would continue to build into this country, that is reason to fear.

This is a personal issue for me, especially in light of Mayor Bower’s latest statement. The internment camps stole people away from their homes and lives, from their communities and business for four long years. More than half of those were citizens born in this country to the second and in come cases the third generation. Well, that’s me.

My grandmother was Syrian. My grandfather was Lebanese, and went to school in Beirut. My father would be a candidate for Syrian camps. And I would be too, even though thanks to my Nordic mother, I can “pass.”

Statements like these are the worst kind of fear-mongering set out in an election year to polarize voters making it easier for candidates to drum up support. They aren’t based in fact. They aren’t based in any philosophy that founded our country. It’s the most basic and vile type of reactionary rhetoric that fans the flames of a fear already ignited in all our hearts whenever we hear of mindless tragedy.

What do we want? Do we want a country of timid people, too scared of what might happen to stand up for the right and human choice? By ignoring or changing our policy to fit with our fear we are being controlled by terrorists. They are dictating our actions now. Not our sense of care and purpose for our fellows, not our direction and philosophy laid out at the founding of our nation which speaks of courage and freedom and a place that people could come and be laid down in their brokenness because a lamp was lit beside a golden door.

I don’t know who these governors and mayors are.

I don’t know what country they are representing, because my country, the country that was founded in blood and courage and the willingness of men and women to lay their lives on the line for something more important, for something intangible and wonderful, for something that is a legacy to all of us who come after. My country is one filled with courageous roaring people who refuse to be controlled by fear, who stand in the face of a terrorist tempest and say “No More.”

Our elected officials can make all the statements they want. If they want to reflect their own timid fear disguised in their conviction that it is “presently imprudent,” that’s their business.

But those true citizens of a brave and fearless nation will rise up above them willing to stand with the citizens of this nation as one voice and speak to the darkness of the world and say, “No.” We will not be controlled by your evil. We will not change our hearts for fear of you. We will instead reach out across the water as we have done countless other times, and act of rebellion against the terror you create, and we will welcome all those who need rest, and care, and a home.

Because this is the home of the brave. And not the fearful.

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