Look at this picture. What do you see?
Do you see a threat? Are you afraid? Do you see an Iranian national? A terrorist?
Of course not. She’s just a baby.
She has no allegiance to any nation, religion nor political affiliation.
She’s simply a beautiful baby girl. A sick little girl.
Totally oblivious to the rancor surrounding her.
This is four-month-old Fatemeh Reshad.
She is sick and may need several surgeries.
But she’s Iranian so, there was a HUGE debate about the #MuslimBan on the floor of the Senate.
She needed a waiver to enter the U.S. to receive care to save her life.
Think about that for a minute.
I am not afraid of Fatemeh, nor her parents, family or caregivers.
But for the grace of God, my daughter could have had her same aliment at her age any parent must relate.
As a matter of fact, I’ve got no beef with Iran or Yemen or any country on this watch list.
I’ve got no beef with Islam. I’ve led school groups on Urban Explorations through New York City Outward Bound on comparative religions among other topics.
The only thing I can tell you about Islam from personal experience is every mosque, grand or humble was immaculately clean. Every Iman was proud and doted on myself and my students, and every partitioner I’ve met has been kind, gracious, hospitable to a fault, their food was slammin’ their Art was amazing and if they were Citizens?
They were far more patriotic than I’ll ever be. Some had come from places where freedom wasn’t a given.
I can’t say the same thing about all the Christians I’ve met.
What kind of country have we become when we are so afraid we need to even debate saving the life of a four month old baby girl?
I don’t know what you want to call this strange land we now find ourselves in today.
This is not America. Not the America I love.
She sometimes doesn’t love me back, and there is much I hate about this cruel bitch. But what I love about her? I love a lot. And I’ll sit-in, stand up, write, march and if need be, fight tooth and nail to protect that for my children.
The America I know, though it has a blood soaked history and still serious issues surrounding equality and justice for all her citizens, would come together to help someone like Fatemeh in a New York minute.
The America I know is generous. And as imperfect as we are, I’ve seen us come together up close.
The real threat is we turn on each other and destroy what’s special about us as we insulate ourselves from each other and the world. The true danger is to sacrifice real, hard fought for liberty for the illusion of safety. We must not allow The Constitution to be the latest casualty of 911.
I argue that because of 911, we must hold on to what makes this imperfect union “a shining beacon on the hill.”
I was in NYC during 911.
I saw it happen with my own eyes. I saw the second plane strike WTC 1.
That was real. No Bowling Green fantasy.
But you know what I also saw?
I saw fearlessness. I saw people, just everyday people literally give the shirts off their backs to aid injured people. The strong helping the weak. Strangers staring in awe, comforting those that needed it.
I was a witness to what makes this country great. On 911, we were at our strongest, most generous, most courageous, most empathetic.
And the World said “We Are All Americans” and embraced us. As we embraced each other. Total strangers wept and comforted each other.
I saw a weeping policeman embraced by a delivery man unashamed.
They didn’t check passports. Didn’t matter what color you were or how much money you had.
Stores gave away free water so soot-covered people could wash their eyes and drink. My wife was one of them—she’s in the health study to this day.
I saw first responders give their full measure to help anyone they could.
I saw the best of humanity on that bleak day.
Let’s make that solidarity be our living monument to all lost and affected that day.
Let our embrace of our countrymen and women regardless of our differences be our declaration that strenght lies in our diversity, compassion, and love of shared humanity, not in walls or oppression.
When and if disaster strikes in the future, let us be bold, bind the wounds of the hurt and comfort the effected without saber rattling or victimizing innocents.
Let those enemies of freedom both from without and within be flummoxed in their empty efforts to frighten us let them fail miserably to put a wedge between us or change the nature of who we are as a nation and what we are striving to become.
I was proud of America in the wake of 911.
America Was Great on 911.
I want to feel that way again.
People claim it’s because of 911 we have to change the way we do things. As I look around, I don’t think we’ve gained more than we stand to lose in this deal. When we collectively look in the mirror do we like what we see?
President Trump. We have an accord. Let’s Make America Great Again, but let it be in a way consistent with our hopes, not our fears.
#NoBan #NoWall #NoWay
All Photos: Associated Press