Americans are born of immigrants. From the Jamestown colony to the barrios of our major cities, many people have come to the United States to build a better life, not just for themselves, but for future generations.
Immigrants bring their customs, culture and religions with them; because of this, our country has become a beautiful tapestry, made up of people who really want the same thing for their children. Whether we pray in a synagogue, church, temple or mosque, whether we eat rice, or pasta or potatoes, we are all alike in wanting good jobs, good schools and the promise of a better future.
Some politicians think they can get elected by sounding a drumbeat of fear about people whose customs they don’t understand. Some people like to divide us into little groups based on the way we look or how we dress so we won’t speak with one voice for freedom and justice for everyone. When we succumb to these impulses of fear, America doesn’t live up to its promise for any of us. Our families came to America because of its great promise-- freedom to express ourselves, to determine how we will be governed and freedom to practice our respective religions without interference from the government.
Tactics such as profiling based on stereotypes have no place in our democracy because, when used, they create an unequal situation that is against our constitutional rights. There are better ways to protect the public, but they take more work and don’t get the same high profile media attention to garner publicity for an elected official.
I believe that the best way to create a more peaceful world is to understand one another. Instead of seeing a stranger in another person’s face, we need to see the faces of our grandparents and our children, of our past and our future. I will never practice “the politics of fear” to advance my career or consolidate my power. In this great nation, no one should.
When I put my hand over my heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, and we conclude the pledge by saying, “with liberty and justice for all” it should mean precisely that… for all.