We were refugees once, not so very long ago. We immigrated to this land in the 1600’s, as refugees of religious persecution, seeking the right to freely pursue our beliefs: A noble goal, for sure, but this refugee story is less than noble.
We sought freedom. We sought safety. We longed for a place to call our own. And soon we were no longer visitors. Soon we owned the clubhouse and we now could made the rules.
We expanded our reach and made our way across the land, driving the Native Americans ahead of us; either killing them systematically or forcing them to inhabit desolate wilderness and forsake their way of life.
We stole Africans from their villages and brought them in slave ships against their will, forcing them to do our work and then despising their very presence among us.
The Irish flooded our shores in the 1840’s and we loathed their place in society but freely hired them as servants and laborers, positions more fitting to their station in life.
Chinese men and women found a home here in the 1850’s in response to work opportunities in the era of gold rushes. They built railroads and supported progress but were hated and abused, accused of driving down the price of labor. We ensured that they received the message of our disdain when The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882.
Over the course of the past 100-years, Germans and Poles, Jews and Africans, Cubans and Mexicans have sought solace in our welcoming arms, only to be the butt of our jokes, the excuse for our failures, or the source of our fears.
We opened Ellis Island and millions of immigrants passed through it’s gates. But we ensured a balance; allowing only a percentage of travelers from each country, rejecting the illiterate, returning the unwanted before the put one foot on our hallowed soil. And then we shut the door.
We interned the Japanese. We firebombed mosques. We subjugated the blacks. We burnt crosses in yards. We built slums. We kept everyone in their rightful place.
And to this day, we carefully guard our shores. We eye our borders. We assure one another that we’ve kept out the threats to our precious way of life. They will not take our jobs. They will not change our culture. They will not kill our children. We own the clubhouse and we make the rules.
Of course, we don’t need outsiders to terrorize us. We have plenty of our own clubhouse members who have made their mark in history by carrying out terrible acts of hate: Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook (2012), Marshall Applewhite of the Heaven’s Gate Cult (1997), Andrew Phillip Kehoe and the Bath School Bombings (1927), Timothy McVeigh and Oklahoma City (1995), Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre (1978), and the Branch Davidians in Waco (1993). Let’s not even begin to discuss Chicago and their escalating death tole (1664 men, women and children killed since January 1, 2012).
We turn a blind eye to the terror from within our Clubhouse walls, but keep a sharp eye on the refugee seeking a life of safety, an opportunity for a new life.
We can do that. We own the clubhouse. We make the rules.