America shouldn’t forget its roots as a nation of immigrants | New NY 23rd

The following was a Letter to the Editor of the Finger Lakes Times written by Steve Coffman of Dundee. Steve is the author of “Founders v. Bush: a Comparison in Quotations of the Policies and Politics of the Founding Fathers and George W. Bush” and other books.

“Xenophobia” means a fear or hatred of foreigners. I hate to say it, but our country’s got a
case of it real bad. We’re building walls and fences, snooping on each other in every conceivable way, locking ourselves up in our schools and gated communities, locking our systems of justice and governance almost out of reach.

Yes, we were attacked. By a tiny group of Saudi Arabian religious zealots.

We also were attacked by Timothy McVeigh and his tiny group of American religious zealots. Attacked by Eric Rudolph and the Ku Klux Klan. Attacked by Theodore Kaczynski, James Earl Ray, Sirhan Sirhan, Lee Harvey Oswald.

And attacked with anthrax, not by Sadam Hussein or any foreign marauder but by someone with security clearance in a U.S. military laboratory.

In fact, we were attacked by 13,000 murders in America last year, only a tiny fraction of which were committed by foreigners. Foreign or not, those who commit crimes in our country should be found and prosecuted in a court of justice. That is the American way.

Also the American way is we are a nation of foreigners. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

That’s our welcome to foreigners on the Statue of Liberty. That’s our history and our pride.

When we hate the foreigners in our country, we are hating ourselves and hating America’s heritage. Those who are good workers and good citizens, treat them like our own, for that’s who they are. Pay them fairly and they will not be “cheap labor” that makes other American workers uncompetitive. Provide them education and they will gratefully learn the English language.

Here’s what George Washington had to say to an assembly of newly arrived Irish in 1783:

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions, whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.” — Address to the Members of the Volunteer Association of the Kingdom of Ireland, Dec. 2, 1783

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