We have a way of thinking in the United States that’s really messed up. We seem to believe that through the mere fact that we were born within the boundaries of the modern United States, that we have a divine right to it. We think this despite the fact that the mere existence of our country is grounded upon a bunch of white people “entering illegally” and claiming land as their own.
I saw this first-hand on social media this morning. I’d posted a video about the current child abuse that’s occurring at the border, only to see that an old friend from high school had commented on it. She spoke of the “right way” to get into our country and tried to perpetuate the myth that this administration has “done nothing different” than previous administrations with regard to immigration, attempting to implicitly suggest that this was a Clinton-era policy, when it, in fact, was not. While it’s true that the law signed by Clinton in the 1990s certainly didn’t help, the notion that this was condoned by previous administrations appears to be utterly false.
But this isn’t about placing blame. It’s terrible no matter who passed it into law. And what matters most is how we handle it right now.
Personally, I know I’ve stayed quiet for too long. I’ve tried to take a less passionate stance when engaging in these conversations. I’ve tried to listen more than I talk, I’ve tried to understand other perspectives, and I’ve tried to keep calm. But I can’t keep calm about it anymore.
There comes a point when certain perspectives don’t deserve a seat at the table. This is a hard conclusion for me to come to, because as a teacher, I want to create space in my classroom for diverse perspectives. But there is a point when diverse perspectives that dehumanize others take away space for an educative debate. These perspectives allow airtime for propaganda that threatens basic human rights.
And so this morning, when I saw my friend’s comments, I called her on it. I called her on her privilege, and I told her she was full of it. She replied:
This is a big part of the problem, that you’re so willing and quick to attack instead of hearing/understanding any other side of any problem. Maybe you should practice what you preach all the time and listen more instead of being quick to attack.
Her perspective–the one where she said there was a “right way” to get into this country, the one where she said these immigrants should “think twice” before trying to get into this country illegally, the one where she implied that these families are getting what they deserve–has no place at the table.
And her defense of her perspective? It’s gaslighting, and many on the far right use this tactic to make us question our own beliefs and our own sanity.
There is no “other perspective” or “other side” to this problem. And don’t buy it if anyone tries to tell you that. Speak up and push back. No human is illegal. And no human should be able to imply that anyone deserves this–especially in the name of just “offering their perspective”.