Sunday, August 29, 2010

From Germans to Muslims

During WWII, when my father was of late elementary age, his New York home was raided and family belongings were confiscated. Because his mom and grandmother were Americans of German origin, he and his family were treated as if they were Nazis and denied their rights under the Constitution. Meanwhile, in Germany, other family members were being arrested, tattooed & incarcerated by the actual Nazis. Never mind that his father was a "real American" whose paternal family's boat ride predated the Revolution; due to ignorance and fear, not even marriage entitled them to their rights as Americans, under the Constitution. 

We have a bad problem. We are a country of immigrants that repeatedly treats its own as enemies during times of conflict. We become un-American and deny constitutional rights and protections to our fellow citizens.

It is a matter of record: this has never resulted in national protection, only in alienation and the ruin of families and childhoods. 

It is not enough to admit we were wrong after the fact. What is reparation, if we continue to take the same path in the present? Repeating the wrong makes any reparation hollow. And, acknowledging the wrong while nevertheless repeating it also suggests we are not making a mistake, but willfully following a plan, and then paying for the privilege.

We have penalties for hate crimes. What we need now are increased penalties for the violation of citizens' constitutional rights during external conflicts--starting with incitement to commit the crime.

That would change some campaign speeches in a hot minute.

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