Tag Archives: Immigration

Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda Book Review

Fans of Broadway musicals and students of Jewish history know the final scene of Fiddler on the Roof all too well. The Jewish residents of the fictional shtetl of Anatevka have been forced out of their homes by the local authorities. As they scatter to four winds, their fate is unknown. Presidential advisor Stephen Miller comes from this world. As do I and millions of Jews of Eastern European descent. But for any number of reasons, Miller has forgotten this history.

Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda, written by journalist Jean Guerrero, was published in August. Miller grew up in a middle-class Jewish family in California. As a young man, his political beliefs began to swing to the extreme right, especially when it came to immigration. He was not shy about sharing his opinions, and like many with that perspective, couched his words in a way that would not immediately come off as racist.

After college, he went into politics, which ultimately led him to his current position working for you know who as a speechwriter and policymaker.

In my world, Miller would be described as a shanda (disgrace). As an American and a Jew, he has forgotten the traditions and the history that we carry with us. Without the United States, Miller’s family, like my family would have been part of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.

There is nothing wrong with regulating who can come into this country. But as I see it, his policies are a bridge too far. There were moments while reading this book that I was both outraged and disgusted. While it was a good book, it was a smack in the face that hate, prejudice, and xenophobia is still alive and well in America in 2020.

I absolutely recommend it.

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The Third Daughter: A Novel Book Review

History seems to always have a way of teaching the current generation, that is if they are willing to listen.

Talia Carner‘s 2019 novel, The Third Daughter: A Novel, was published last fall. In 1889, Batya is a fourteen year old Jewish girl trying to escape Europe with her family. The many pogroms that have turned her world upside down. Along the way to hopeful freedom, a handsome and wealthy man presents himself. He wants to marry Batya and give her a new life in America.

It seems like a fairy tale ending to what has been a horrific experience. But like many fairy tales, it is nothing but a sham. Batya is sold into prostitution or “white slavery” along with thousands of other young immigrant women in Buenos Aires.

As the years pass, she adjusts to her forced circumstances, but still dreams of the day when she will be reunited with her family. When an opportunity appears to become a Tango dancer, Batya takes it. It is also an opportunity to get justice for herself and the other women forced to earn their living on their backs.

Previous to reading this book, I thought white slavery was a story told to young girls to keep them chained to the patriarchy. To say that I was educated by the novel is an understatement. I thought that I knew almost everything there was to know about Jewish immigration around the turn of the 20th century. I was wrong.

I loved this book. It was well written, entertaining and educational without hitting the reader over the head.

I recommend it.

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Thoughts On the Impeachment & You Know Who’s Sea Wall Comment

Regardless of where you land on the political spectrum, I think it’s safe to say that this current President has, if nothing else, rocked the political boat.

You know who’s recent comment about the proposal to build a seawall to protect New York City from another Hurricane Sandy is both arrogant and ignorant. I don’t know where he was during the hurricane, but I know where I was. It was one of the scariest experiences of my life and a kick in the pants that climate change is real and destructive.

The ironic thing is that while he mocks the effort to protect the residents of New York City from another massive hurricane, he continues to believe that building a wall is the solution to resolve the issue of immigration reform. Building the wall and maintaining on the Southern border is a waste of money, time and the human resources. If he truly wanted to reform our immigration issues, he would be doing everything in his power to work with Congress. Instead he makes up lies and spouts false promises that will never become reality.

Speaking of, last week, he became the third President in American history to be impeached.

To be fair, this does not mean (at least at this point in time), that he will be even found guilty or removed from office. Only time can tell us that. But, the message is clear. No one, not even the President of the United States is above the law. He or she is as bound to follow the rules as any of us are.

As Senator Nancy Pelosi (D-California) stated on Real Time with Bill Maher,

“If I knew that the president is listening, I would want him to know that he is impeached forever, and he is impeached forever because he used the office of the president to try to influence a foreign country for his personal and political benefit. In doing so, he undermined our national security, he was disloyal to his oath of office to protect the Constitution and he placed in jeopardy the integrity of our election,” she added later. “He gave us no choice.”

As of now, we don’t know how this will all turn out. Regardless of what happens, it is a stark reminder of how important it is to what has to be done to keep our democracy alive. If we don’t, I am seriously afraid of what the consequences will be.

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The Golden Girls Character Review: Sophia Petrillo

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Golden GirlsRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Golden Girls.  to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

When it comes to women of a certain age, the impression is that time have taken their toll. At this point in their lives, they are living quietly, without the excitement of their younger years. Sophia Petrillo (the late Estelle Getty) on The Golden Girls proved that women of a certain age do not lose their lust for life just because their younger years are behind them.

Sophia was born in the first few years of the 20th century in Sicily. One of three children, she immigrated to New York as a teenager. After the death of her husband and being hospitalized for a stroke, Sophia moved in with her daughter, Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur).

The stroke took away Sophia’s ability to censure herself. This often led to conversations that ended with Dorothy threatening to send her mother back to the home. “Shady Pines, Ma” was often heard out of the mouth of an exasperated Dorothy.

Though she openly mocks her housemates, Sophia loves them as if they all were her flesh and blood. It is that love that sustains her, especially after Dorothy re-marries and moves in with her new husband.

To sum it up: It would be easy to create a character of a certain age who has taken a back seat to life. It is harder to create the same character, especially if she is female, with the same vibrancy and joie de vivre as a younger woman. Fans of The Golden Girls love Sophia because she is sassy, she is smart, but most of all, she loves her daughter.

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Journeys: An American Story Book Review

The story of America is the story of immigration. It is also the story of those who oppose immigration.

Journeys: An American Story, was published last year. Edited by Andrew Tisch and Mary Skafidas, the book is a compilation of immigrant stories. The stories of immigration range from the earliest days of the United States to the present. Those interviewed can trace their families to every part of the globe and range from the well known to the average person on the street.

I enjoyed reading this book. I live in a country and a world that looks down on immigrants, especially those fleeing poverty and persecution. If nothing else, this book reaffirms the idea that instead of punishing immigrants or forcing them out, we should welcome them with open arms. If we prevent them from coming, we may never know what their descendants may accomplish.

I recommend it.

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Who is Going to Pay For the Wall? America!

Politicians are notorious for making campaign promises that are just that.

During the 2016 Presidential election, you know who made the following statement over and over again.

“Mexico will pay for the wall.”

The reality is that Mexico will not be paying for the wall. America will pay for the wall.

Last week, press reports stated that billions of dollars that were earmarked for various military projects will be used to pay for the wall.

So much for campaign promises. I guess he is a politician after all. Maybe now we have a chance of getting him out of office in 2020.

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America Is Better Than This: Trump’s War Against Migrant Families Book Review

America’s story, as a whole, is made up of millions of individual stories of immigrants. Unfortunately, there are some who for political reasons, conveniently forget these stories. But there are others in the corridors of power who are determined that new generations of immigrants are given the opportunities as past immigrants.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) is determined to not only keep these stories alive, he is equally determined to remind Americans about the inhuman treatment that those who wish to become Americans are experiencing. In his new book, America Is Better Than This: Trump’s War Against Migrant Families, Senator Merkley writes about his first hand experience at the border. In visiting migrants who are forced into what are essentially internment camps, where children are separated from their parents, he reveals the hard truth that we, as a country, must face.

As I see it, there are too many politicians these days who are too willing to bury their heads in the sand or to further their careers. I admire Senator Merkley for speaking up and reminding us that, according to his must read book, America is better than this.

I recommend it.

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Thoughts On the First Night of the Second Round of Democratic Debates

Last night, the first night of the second round of the Democratic nominees aired on CNN. Over the course of three hours, the nominees debated, argued and did their best to prove why they should go against you know who next fall.

I have a few thoughts about last night.

  • As much as I would like to say that Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) will be our first Jewish-American President, I don’t think he will be the nominee. From my perspective, his plan can best be summed up as a Monet. He didn’t do anything for me during the 2016 Presidential Election and does not do anything for me now. But, he did have the best one-liners.
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said nothing new or different than she has said before. This round of debates are do or die for the candidates. While the Senator had many good talking points, nothing she said inspired me.
  • Marianne Williamson surprised me. I didn’t think much of her during the previous debate. But last night, she sounded like a candidate who might have a shot winning the nomination. However, her limited political experience bothers me. Not that there is anything wrong with a political newbie, but given the lack of previous political experience of you know who, I would feel more comfortable with a candidate who has at least some experience in government.
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) stood out. I read her as a centrist Democrat who is able to walk the fine line of holding true to the ideals of the party while appealing to all Americans. I honestly believe that the ideal Democratic candidate to go against you know who is a centrist Democrat whose appeal goes well beyond the party’s base.
  • I don’t agree that immigrants whose status is labelled illegal should just be handed health insurance. Let them pay in, either out of their own pockets or via taxes and enroll in one of the government insurances. I’ve spoken on past posts about my immigrant forebears. They came to this country for the same reasons more than a century ago for the same reason that immigrants are coming today. My forebears did not ask for a handout. They only asked for an opportunity, which what they were given. We should be giving these immigrants the same opportunities that past generations of immigrants were given.

Those are my opinions. Readers, what do you think? What moment or quote stood out to you from last night?

P.S. Did anyone else notice that everyone on stage last night was Caucasian? All of the nominees of color are debating tonight.

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A Sign of the Times: Border Patrol Targets American Citizens

The general idea of law enforcement is to protect the average citizen and ensure that the those who are breaking the law are removed from society. Their job is not target and/or arrest someone because of his or her religion, cultural background or family history.

When it comes to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, their job is specifically to protect our borders. Their job is not to harass citizens.

Back in February, Ana Suda and Martha “Mimi” Hernandez, two Latina-Americans who live in Montana were stopped by border patrol and asked to show ID. They were stopped not because they were suspected of committing a crime. They were stopped because they were speaking Spanish. Both women are American citizens. There is a lawsuit pending against the officer who stopped them.

Last month, 18 year old Francisco Erwin Galicia, an American citizen and a Dallas native, was detained by immigration officials for a month before he was released. He stopped and arrested along with his younger brother. Mr. Galicia was released but his younger brother was eventually sent to Mexico and is residing with his grandmother.

This is not the United States that I know and love. We do not treat immigrants (or anyone else for that matter) like animals and second class citizens. We should not target American citizens and send them to another country because we assume that based on their mother tongue and/or surname, that they are not citizens.

It’s time to stop this madness before we ruin everything that is good about America and the American democracy.

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Mitch McConnell Could Not Defend His Wife, I Doubt That He Can Defend This Country

If you can, please imagine the following scenario. You are one half of an interracial or inter-religious couple. Someone whom you work with and are in frequent company with makes what can only be described as a racist comment. Do you let the comment slide and make excuses for this person? Or do you stand up for your spouse/significant other and your relationship?

It is my opinion that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has sold his soul to you know who in order to retain his position. After the blatantly racist comments that you know who made via twitter over the weekend, Senator McConnell made the following statement to the press:

“The president’s not a racist,” McConnell said. “And I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country. But it’s coming from all ideological points of view. To single out any segment of this I think is a mistake.”

The sad irony of his statement is that his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was born in China and immigrated to the United States as a child. She became a United States citizen at the age of 19. She is an example of the immigrant that you know who would, if he had his way, prevent from entering this country.

Politics aside, I would hope that Senator McConnell would defend his wife and his marriage. He may have done so in private, but these days, that conversation is worth nothing. It is the public statement condemning racism in all it’s forms that matters. But given his vague and slap on the wrist comment, I doubt that the Senator would actually defend this country if it came to it.

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