If the guys who flew the planes into the Twin Towers were Scandinavian, would I feel differently about travel bans?
Would I be offended if the TSA took a second look at my passport because I have blonde hair and blue eyes?
If a few radical European Christians were beheading infidels, would the ACLU still bring charges of religious discrimination against the ban?
Let’s face it, President Trump had no idea things would go this far when he threw his hat into the ring.
Then, he woke up in the White House, one morning, and started reading documents the rest of us don’t get to see. Basically, he freaked out when he saw the list of credible threats made against the United States and announced, “Not on my watch.”
The threats may not have been new to our country, but they were definitely new to our president. This is new territory for all of us.
Last Saturday, the Dutch government ruffled all sorts of feathers when they denied Turkey’s foreign minister his request to hold a public rally in the Netherlands.
The Turkish President vented to a crowd in Istanbul by accusing the Dutch leaders of being nervous and cowardly. “They are Nazi remnants, they are fascists,” he said, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The Dutch Prime Minister said he understood the Turkish leader’s anger but called his remarks “crazy” and “way out of line.”
The next day, in response to the incident, I heard a woman interviewed on NPR call the Dutch Prime Minister a “white supremacist.” Where have we heard that before?
It isn’t easy being a leader in a democracy, especially these days. And it’s even harder being an immigrant. How do you keep a people safe without harming other’s rights?
Name-calling isn’t working out so well. Nor is pointing out the obvious problems, like some Michael Moore documentary.
Yeah, we all see the problems, but where are the solutions?
Several European countries who looked down their noses at the United States, (What’s new?) decided to take the high road and open their borders to refugees. And while that may have been the right thing to do, it hasn’t come without serious consequences.
Germany allowed migrant workers and asylum seekers to pour over their borders. This provided some relief, but it came with a new set of problems for both the Germans and the foreigners.
For one thing, security issues have become a major concern. This was highlighted by the Christmas Market attack in Berlin last December that left 12 dead and 56 injured.
And refugees feel the strain too. Most of them are heartbroken, homesick, and longing for peace. Young men are of particular concern as they feel displaced and frustrated.
The fact is, we may not agree with every move our leaders make. But it shouldn’t be too difficult to understand their struggle to balance sympathy with security.
A little grace might help and a mantra based on the idiom we learned as kids: Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes. This enlightened quote is thought to have originated with the Native Americans. But in 1895, a poem called Judge Softly by Mary T. Lathrap actually replaced shoes with moccasins, which is how I learned it.
I’m not sure if that version offends Native Americans, mainly because I’m not a Native American. Nor am I an African American, a Hispanic, or a Muslim.
I’m also not a Scandinavian refugee trying to navigate tight borders as I flee persecution.
But I do know that when we embrace empathy from all angles, as the proverb suggests, we become a little less of the problem and more of the solution. Regardless of our hair color.
Look for Permission to Doubt. Published by Kregel