Shifting Tides

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

A few years ago, on a return trip from Costa Rica, we stopped in Boston to visit my cousins. We first entered the United States through New York. At passport control I dutifully provided my Canadian passport. The officer looked at it, then at me, eyed the passport again, and then gazed at me in condescension. He was obviously troubled by something. I couldn’t venture to guess what it could be. I’m a staunch rule follower, but this man made me feel guilty. That glare was meant to intimidate. He was telling me he was the one in control.

After several seconds and more stares at my passport, the officer asked me when I had left Egypt. I was born in Egypt. My Canadian passport proudly states this fact. What does that have to do with anything, I wondered, but with the American rendition flights (another sad chapter in American history) hot in the news at the time, I was thankfully prudent rather than questioning.  And besides I was in a foreign country. I have always seen the United States this way, which overall has saved me a lot of hassles in the end.

“When I was a child,” I said. “My family immigrated to Canada when I was six.”

“Well aren’t you lucky, your father made that decision,” the officer replied. He waved me forward. “Welcome to the United States of America.”

Some welcome.

This week I was reminded of this and other experiences I’ve had with U.S. customs. These memories of course come on the heels of the signing of the executive order banning entry into the United States of refugees and citizens from seven predominately Muslim countries and the ensuing debacle at airports.

I’ve remained relatively quiet about the elections down south. This is strange for me because as you well know I have an opinion about everything. But I believe in democracy, messy and fickle as it sometimes can be. People voted and Mr. Trump was elected. So in the end I was a proponent of giving the guy a chance.

I was blatantly naïve and far too optimistic. And I can no longer remain quiet, particularly on the immigration issue, but even as I write this I am beyond words. So much has been said by so many. Instead, I will leave it to Stephen Lewis, Canada’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, to summarize our collective concerns. 

Also this week, an unspeakable tragedy occurred in Quebec City. I mourn for the lives lost to a gunman who by all accounts was swayed by recent hate rhetoric. Then to add further insult, Fox News chose to identify an alleged suspect as Moroccan. The police at this point hadn’t finished their investigation nor had they confirmed the identity of the suspect(s).

Still some news outlets, the vultures that they are, hell bent on being the first to report something, without a single thought given to the consequences, provided two names. One was Arabic. It turned out this man was a witness. Can you imagine the man’s parents seeing his name linked to a mass shooting? This is irresponsible journalism at best and dangerous at its worst.

Crimes like these are often committed by the home grown, whether in Canada, the United States, France or other places. This was pointed out eloquently in Neil Macdonald's CBC article.

Given what has occurred this week, it’s difficult to remain positive about the future. Still I’m with Martin Luther King Jr. on this, hate is too great a burden to bear.

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