February 6, 2017
Several hours before Tom Brady and the New England Patriots turned Superbowl LI upside down with an astonishing, come from way behind OT win over the Falcons, viewers were treated to the ritual pregame rendition of our national anthem. Whether it’s sung at the Superbowl in Houston, Texas or at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, this familiar tune has the power to bring a tear to many an adult eye. A moment of gratitude, of pride, an appreciation of our collective past, and of hope for the future.
And this time was no different in that sense, although recent developments have cast a shadow of doubt over the question with which the song concludes: “Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave o’er the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?” That shadow began to darken the American sky awhile back, when a television celebrity descended a midtown escalator and trashed Mexican immigrants. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Recent days have seen fear of the Other escalate from campaign rhetoric to official policy. Perhaps crediting a former television celebrity with creating this darkness is more than he deserves. Didn’t it really begin just days after the WTC towers came down? We were offered a false choice between freedom and safety, and safety won. A tube of toothpaste became suspect, and some people hesitated before typing the word ‘bombed’ into an email, even if the reference was only to a joke that didn’t go over well. Nobody wants to be misunderstood and pulled off the line for ‘extreme vetting’ or ‘enhanced interrogation.’
The photo above shows a real NYC business that had to close for the day recently because family was detained at JFK. An employee stated today that the family has been released and that the community has been very supportive. And why wouldn’t it be? We’re all others up here when you stop and think about it. And a whole lot braver than a man who leads by telling people to be afraid of everything. Sad!