The question of “what if” is heavy question to ask, especially when it comes to certain historical events.
We know that we live in an imperfect world. We know that we live in a world in which one’s opportunities are often dependent on and defined by factors such as race, family background, religion, etc. We know know that we live in a world where many have been persecuted and massacred simply because of who they are.
Given what is happening in our country and in our world today, the what if questions in regards to the Holocaust and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II seem particularly potent.
What if the average citizen had spoken up? What if they had publicly protested, contacted their representative and voiced their concerns about the treatment of their fellow citizens? Would the world as we know it to be today different and perhaps a better place?
As I walked out of work this afternoon in midtown Manhattan, traffic ground to a halt. All four lanes of traffic were stopped, for what I think is a necessary reason.
The average citizen spoke up. They made it loud and clear that what our government is doing to the South American migrants who are only seeking asylum and a new life in the United States is wrong.
We cannot go back and undo the Holocaust or the internment of the Japanese-Americans during World War II. But this protest today and the hundreds of others gives me hope that humanity is working towards a future in which all of us are treated equal.
There are some people in this country who still believe that the United States is a white, Christian nation. According to these people, anyone who does not fit into both of those categories is either ineligible to be an American or is only fit to be labeled as a second class citizen.
Among these people is the President of the United States.
Over the weekend, he tweeted the following statement about four Democratic Congresswomen: go back to where you came from. The targets of this tweet were Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). All four of them are freshman members of Congress and women of color. The incorrect irony of his tweet is that three of the four targeted Congresswomen are natural born American citizens. Ilhan Omar is the only one who was actually born in another country and immigrated as a child. She has been a citizen for nearly twenty years.
The truth of America’s history is that we have always been a multi-cultural nation. Unfortunately, that truth has been hidden to ensure that only a small minority have access to the American dream. Due to decades of hard work and soul searching, we have finally started to open the door to those who have been systematically disenfranchised and make amends for our collective sins.
The question now is, where do we, as a nation go from here? Do we let this racist used car salesman drag us back into the past? Or do we continue to walk the high road and work toward the ideal society that our founding fathers created when they broke from the British over 200 years ago?