I’m not afraid of migrants.
I’m not afraid of people fleeing violence in search of a better life. I’m not afraid of asylum seekers.
And I’m certainly not afraid of a president who thinks he can scare a large swath of his fellow citizens — you know, the ones he’s supposed to represent — by threatening to send busloads of migrants and asylum seekers into their cities.
“Their cities” sounds weird. It used to be “our” cities. It used to “our” country, and the president used to represent everyone. Not just cater to a narrow segment of Americans. Not just focus on keeping that narrow segment of Americans sufficiently riled up, fearful and outraged.
But here we are. President Trump has embraced the idea that busing and flying the migrants and asylum seekers now being held near the southern border out to so-called sanctuary cities like Chicago and San Francisco will really stick it to the Americans he views as enemies.
That’s rich. To paraphrase the great “Pogo” cartoonist Walt Kelly: I have seen the enemy, and they are us.
Let’s set aside the illegality, immorality and exorbitant cost of Trump’s cockamamie new plot. Consider only how the president perceives this idea.
Through his lens, these migrants and asylum seekers can only be seen as threatening, a scary assortment of murderers and rapists, devoid of potential.
So what does this president want to do with these people? He wants to use them — human beings, many of whom are parents and children — to exact what he believes will be revenge on the Americans he hates.
Trump, the willing avatar of white nationalism, thinks the redistribution of migrants and asylum seekers to sanctuary cities across the country will leave liberals (aka, the enemy) begging for mercy.
And he’s delighted with himself over this idea. He’s relishing it, tweeting like a bully who thinks he just found his latest target’s soft spot.
Let me reiterate: The president of the United States of America is gleefully boasting about a plan to send what he believes are dangerous foreigners to major U.S. cities so he can get back at American citizens who disagree with him.
That’s not a president, it’s a tin-pot dictator. And an impotent one at that. Because what he thinks is scary doesn’t scare many Americans at all.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, addressing Trump’s idea, released this statement: “What President Trump fails to understand is that America is a sanctuary country. Small, medium and large cities across the nation are suddenly and rapidly identifying as sanctuary cities because of the abandonment of Americans values, ideals and cultural destiny under President Trump’s watch. Not only does hate have no home in Chicago, but, as a welcoming city, we would welcome these migrants with open arms, just as we welcomed Syrian refugees, just as we welcomed Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria and just as we welcome Rohingya refugees fleeing genocide in Myanmar.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tweeted: “It’s time to stop fanning hate and division @realDonaldTrump _ I’ve been consistent and clear: #Oakland welcomes all, no matter where you came from or how you got here.”
And Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, a presidential candidate, summed it up on “Meet the Press” this weekend: “You can’t threaten somebody with something they’re not afraid of. And we are not afraid of diversity in the state of Washington.”
Fear is the only arrow in Trump’s quiver, and it’s an emotion that consumes him.
He’s afraid of a changing world, so he tries to wall America off. He’s afraid of Muslims, so he tries to stop them from coming here. He’s afraid of a changing economy, so he bleats about coal mines reopening and promises the mythical return of factory jobs.
He’s afraid of failure, so he uses fear to motivate the people who love him.
He’s afraid of anyone telling him he’s wrong, so he attacks his critics and violates his oath of office by threatening people he is charged with protecting.
Angela Chan, policy director and senior attorney with the San Francisco-based Asian Law Caucus, told The Associated Press this about Trump’s ship-’em-to-sanctuary-cities idea: “It’s illogical. It’s just alarming that they are spending so much effort and so much time to engage in political theater.”
I’m not so sure it’s theater. I think it’s just fear.
And the problem for Trump is that most of us don’t share his fears.
We’re fine with the world changing. It seems it should.
We welcome people from different backgrounds.
We want people around the world to see America as a place of hope, kindness and opportunity.
We don’t want to build walls.
And we don’t like bullies.
It’s horrendous to hear a president level a threat against American cities and their residents. It’s without precedent.
But it’s also ridiculous. Because what this fearful man thinks is a threat is nothing of the sort.