Cowardice is morally repugnant. Cowardice is a shedding of personal values for the easy, sloughing off the iron and will that makes up our core and replacing it with something vicious, bitter, and weak. Cowardice is refusal and rejection–it is shrouding oneself in the flag, empty statements, and pandering.
The current rhetoric in America–the great idea that strives for progress against our baser nature–is that of cowardice. Refugees are not cowards; they seek a better life for themselves and their families, braving journeys of borders, languages, poverty, and fear for the slim chance to improve life for their sons and daughters. No, this journey can only be undertaken by those who believe strongly in some better future.
But to deny the chance given to so many out of fear and xenophobia stinks of cowardice. To harken back to fascist policies, to disseminate and spread mistrust, to fundamentally undermine what precisely makes America so wonderfully diverse and unprecedented–this is simply unacceptable.
I struggled with this idea–does adding any more voice to the “debate” over refugees simply stoke the fire of whether there should be any question over shattering and dismantling the principles of our fundamental core? But recent dog whistles and signalling from the fearmongering governors and GOP candidates must be countered. To stand back and watch as America slides slowly into discrimination, religious hatred, and security uber-alles denies my service to this nation, my love of what could be, and my very beliefs. I take the attacks from this blathering gathering of fools, baiters, and cowards as a personal attack.
What I don’t know is whether this motley crew of demagogues actually believes their inflammatory rhetoric, or simply is using it to move the masses. Both underlying reasons cause a recoil usually associated with touching something slimy and putrid, but the latter is infinitely more dangerous. Those without the spine to speak back against the Trumps and Cruzes of this world, those who simply ape their apparent idols’ positions and vitriol, are as guilty of cowardice as their frontrunners.
A friend of mine, a decorated Afghan vet and one of the bravest men I know, countered this anti-Islamic rhetoric by pointing to his fellow brothers-in-arms. We fought and died alongside all religions–Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, atheists. Many Muslims are still fighting this extremism–Afghans continue to fight the Taliban, Iraqis fight ISIS, in defense of their nations. They do this for little pay, often without the high-tech tools of the US military, in far-flung and incredibly dangerous environments for little recognition beyond the hope that their children may inherit a better world. Mr. Trump, what have you done for your country.
“Fear is the mind-killer,” Frank Herbert wrote. Fear allows others to take advantage, to suggest that uniquely un-American ideas have somehow become acceptable in this post-9/11, post-London, post-Paris world. A denial of rights we consider universal and unalienable, that so many have fought and died for to protect and extend to even the weakest among us. We need no personal anecdotes to let us know how wrong the ideas of Trump and Cruz are; we, as Americans, know in our bones that we would be trading something beautiful and indelible for a false security. We need no badges identifying status or religion, our status as Americans is writ on every line of the face of each refugee and immigrant who has come to these shores in search of something better.