Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lou Reed: "Give me your hungry, your tired your poor; I'll piss on 'em"


Scaremongering xenphobia rarely hurts the scaremongers and xenophobes

There's been plenty of talk, including on this blog, about how the U.S. turned away Jewish refugees in the late 1930s-- sending many to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps-- but nothing was going to slow down conservative fear-mongering. Today the House passed this deranged, idiot anti-immigrant bill 289-137 with 47 of the House's worst Democrats crossing the aisle and joining the GOP. Mostly the aisle crossers were the right-wing fake Dems who are always the aisle crossers, like Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL), Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Ami Bera (New Dem-CA), Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL), Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN), Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA), John Delaney (New Dem-MD), Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL), Jim Himes (New Dem-CT), Ann Kuster (New Dem-NH), Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)... all the congressional garbage. In fact, speaking of garbage, corrupt Long Island Islamophobe and all around bigot Steve Israel, in charge of DCCC messaging, voted with the GOP today too... of course. And so did Israel's doggie, Long Island New Dem Kathleen Rice.

Earlier today Chris Christie called for some kind of human wall to keep these refugees out of New Jersey, I wonder how much that's related to the political consequences of a lack of a human wall after World War II to keep Nazis out of New Jersey. Republicans actually recruited Nazis to come to New Jersey. In fact the Dulles brothers flooded New Jersey, Ohio and Michigan with Nazi war criminals and terrorists from, among other countries, Byelorussia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia.

The Dulles Brothers, at the nexus of Wall Street, the intelligence community, the Republican Party and dangerously inept Cold War jingoism, overrode President Truman's and Congress' ban on allowing Nazi war criminals into the country, let alone employing them-- purging their records and getting them U.S. citizenship. John Foster Dulles, who now shamefully has an airport named after him near our nation's capital, was complicit steeped in Wall Street backing for prewar Hitler and was at all times looking out for the interests of the wealthy Republican investors who invested in him, particularly the Rockefellers and the Bushes. They had decided to bring their Nazi cronies to the U.S. once Truman was defeated by Dewey.

When Truman didn't play his assigned role, they did it anyway, and then when the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket was elected, the floodgates opened, and New Jersey, among a few other states, became a sanctuary for Nazi collaborators and war criminals from Eastern Europe. Nixon saw them as a counterbalance to the hated Jews, who always voted for the Democrats, and Eisenhower gave him supervisory powers over the operations to bring them to America. Ironically, many of them had been infiltrated by the Russian Communists and the entire program was an absolute disaster, bringing the U.S. no Cold War benefits whatsoever and costing the country hundreds of millions of dollars, but, eventually, helping elect Republican rightists from Nixon to Christie.

When the 47 Democrats joined the Republicans to target Syrian refugees fleeing from the murderous ISIS monsters that atrocious conservative policies in the Middle East helped create, only oneNew Jersey Democrat went right along with the circus, the worst one, of course, South Jersey conservative Donald Norcross, brother of corrupt Jersey Democratic machine boss George Norcross. I asked Alex Law, the progressive Democrat running against Donald Norcross and the Norcross Machine how he felt about the refugee situation.
What truly makes us Americans, what makes us who we are, are two things: our Constitution and the fact that as a people we are committed to doing the right thing. Speaking to the latter, what separates us, the thing that gives us our sense of exceptionalism is that we do the right thing even when it is hard. America is the home of the brave, and I have never once seen my country shy away from a challenge because of fear. We always rally and rise to the occasion. Right now, we are faced with that question of whether to rally or whether to close our doors to the thousands of human beings who are fleeing a war that we had a hand in creating. This is a war that shows no mercy to women and children, a war that has seen the use of poison gas and untold civilian casualty. As the greatest country on Earth, it isn't good enough to say we should only worry about our own people and forget about the pain of others, especially others that we have plenty of capacity to help. Yes, I think we should take every precaution when allowing these refugees to come to America, but we absolutely must help these people. Our strength is in our ability as a nation to be inspired past fear and do the right thing. I hope our government remembers that when considering helping these refugees. My opponent, Donald Norcross elected to join the party of those controlled by fear in becoming the only Democrat from New Jersey to vote with Republicans against allowing refugees into the country. I am incredibly disappointed by this, as I have been disappointed when he voted with Republicans on nearly every controversial vote during this Congressional term. When I am elected, I look forward to standing with fellow progressives on votes like this.
Watch Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on the floor this morning explaining why he conservatives were making a terrible mistake (and why he said he's ashamed of his colleagues)

Seattle's progressive Democrat, Jim McDermott made a similar powerful statement. "I stand in strong support of Governor Inslee’s recent announcement that Washington State would welcome refugees escaping the violence and devastation in Iraq and Syria. The Governor’s courageous stand is not only morally the right thing to do as Americans, but it also follows a tradition of past Washington State governors who saw through the fear, racist rhetoric and political gamesmanship and opened Washington State’s doors to those escaping hardship and despair.

"In reflecting on the events of the past week in Paris and Beirut, I’m reminded of what Pope Francis said at the opening of a Joint Session of Congress: 'Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility.' There could be no more prescient or truer call to action as we work to resettle refugees from war-torn Syria. I will vote against H.R. 4038, which disingenuously pledges to keep Americans safe by effectively shuttering refugee resettlement programs. Over the years these programs have been the critical lifeline to millions of honest and hard-working refugee families seeking a better life on America’s shores. Syria’s refugees are fleeing arguably the worst atrocities we have seen in modern history. It is within our personal and social responsibility as Americans, and well within our means as a country, to welcome and protect them."

Mike Honda, who was actually shut up with his family in an American internment camp for Japanese-American citizens during World War II, was mortified when the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, David Bowers-- a putative Democrat and member of Hillary Clinton's Leadership Team-- made his revolting and very Republican-sounding statement this morning about internment camps.
Mayor Bowers' comments about Japanese internment do not represent the values of the Democratic Party, and his rhetoric has no place in our party. The cruel and baseless Japanese internment policies enacted during World War II are an ugly stain on our democracy, and should not be used to justify future exclusionary policies. Mayor Bowers should reflect on dark moments like these in our history when the dual crises of war abroad and the perceived threat of terror at home have emboldened dangerous xenophobia in America.

We are a nation of immigrants born out of an enduring desire to be free, but it's essential that we avoid repeating the mistakes of our predecessors. As the war against terror continues worldwide, the Democratic Party is firmly committed to recognizing the humanity of refugees and honoring and protecting the liberty, security and diversity of our great nation.
Mark Takano (D-CA) is also of Japanese heritage. This morning he told me that "Many Japanese-Americans, including my parents and grandparents, were stripped of their possessions and their freedom simply because they looked like our enemy. There is indeed a lesson from that terrible time in our history: We cannot allow fear to triumph over our principles and our compassion.”


So while Texas neo-fascist Brian Babin, who masquerades as a right-wing Republican, was on the radio claiming that "Mary and Jesus didn’t have suicide bomb vests strapped on them, and these folks do" and vowing to keep refugees out, Ted Lieu (D-CA), a decorated military officer, had a very different perspective from the Republican chicken-hawks. (By the way, Ted will be on MSNBC this evening discussing the refugee crisis with Chris Hayes-- highly recommended.) "During these times of crisis, the best angels of the American character must not be overtaken by fear and xenophobia. In search of a politically expedient solution, some are calling on the government to stop admitting Syrian refugees. Others have suggested we block only Muslims-- a bigoted idea and a desecration of our nation’s foundational religious freedoms." He continued:
Saying we need to choose between our refugee program and protecting national security is a false choice. It is also intellectually dishonest.

There is not a single example of a refugee committing a terrorist act in the United States. In Paris, the attacks were actually perpetrated by French nationals and Belgians, not Syrian refugees. Should we ban travel from French citizens and Belgians to America because some of them committed terrorist acts in Paris? If that idea sounds ridiculous, then so should the idea of banning children, widows, and seniors fleeing Syria from seeking safety in the United States.

Of the approximate 2,200 Syrian refugees already admitted to the United States, half are children and a quarter are senior citizens. Refusing to help some of the most vulnerable human beings in the world is not just un-American, it is an irrational overreaction with zero policy justification.

As an Air Force officer stationed in Guam during the mid-1990s, I participated in Operation PACIFIC HAVEN where the United States extracted thousands of Kurds out of northern Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein from slaughtering them. I saw first-hand the extensive screening process that the U.S. conducted of the Kurdish refugees before bringing many of them to the mainland. Our nation’s screening process has only improved since then.

As Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently testified before Congress, refugees are already “subject to the highest level of security checks” before being admitted into the United States. It is an arduous 18-to-24 month process that puts UN-registered refugees through repeated screenings and background checks involving multiple government agencies.

House Republicans have introduced hastily-written legislation that would effectively shutter our program for refugees from war-torn Syria and Iraq. This knee-jerk reaction demonizes the vulnerable human beings who are most threatened by the conflict and is strategically unwise.

No one is happier about xenophobic, anti-Muslim, reactions than the so-called Islamic State. Islamophobic hysteria is a prime recruiting tool for terrorist organizations. This is exactly the kind of overreaction that they hope to achieve: To use terrible acts of violence to horrify Western society into compromising our own humanity and way of life.

The American story has in large part been written by intrepid souls fleeing persecution in search of a better life in a nation forged in liberty's name and dedicated to the equality of all.

Anyone who would close our borders to orphans fleeing barrel bombs, when substantial security checks are in place, is simply admitting defeat. They are surrendering to the tragic idea that America cannot be both strong and value-driven, that our union cannot be made more perfect by confronting fear and hatred and violence with even greater measures of strength, compassion and virtue. We are better than that.
Several of the Blue America House candidates-- even in red districts-- have stood up against the xenophobia of the Republican anti-immigrant incumbents they are challenging. Tom Guild (D-OK): "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The golden rule applies to desperate Syrian refugees seeking asylum in the United States. Our country plans to accept a limited number of refugees who are fleeing for their lives from the dysfunctional and dangerous country of Syria. They should be properly vetted by the U.S.  The current system of vetting often takes at least two years to certify refugees suitable for relocation to America. Turning our backs on those facing death and political persecution would betray traditional American values. As Lady Liberty says on her inscription, 'Give you tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,  The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.'"

Similarly, state Senator Ruben Kihuen, who himself came to the U.S. as a child, and is now one of the progressive leaders in the Nevada legislature and a candidate for Congress, told Nevadans that his opponent, "Cresent Hardy and the Republicans in Congress want to block the U.S. from accepting any Syrian refugees out of fear and panic. Some Republican Presidential candidates even want to administer religious tests before accepting refugees.

We should be working together to strengthen our vetting process and accept refugees escaping terrorism-- not turning our backs on people in need. That's the American response, not to cower in fear to terrorists and thugs. America should continue to be a beacon of hope and freedom for the world, and that means opening our arms to those who have suffered horrific violence and been thrown out of their home country."

Minutes before the vote Nanette Barragan, running in a 70% Hispanic open district in Los Angeles told me that she is "appalled by the rhetoric coming from the right. I once represented a Guatemalan mother who fled the Maras gang that killed her son. She and her child sought safety within our borders because they knew that the values and compassion of our country would be their salvation. Yes, we should take common sense steps to keep terrorists from our borders, but it is inhumane and, frankly, un-American to close down our borders to innocent families fleeing violence."

Donna Edwards voted against the bill, of course. She told her constituents in Maryland why: "We must remember the enemy is ISIS, not the refugees who are fleeing the region. I believe strongly that as Americans we cannot deny people shelter and safety based on stereotyping and xenophobia; it runs counter to who we are as a nation. We have the ability and the resources to welcome refugees, while taking all necessary steps to ensure our own security at the same time. It is what we have done and what we will continue to do."

I brought Lou Reed to the White House for a state banquet when Clinton was president. Lou played this song. No one-- at least no one at my table-- seemed to notice the lyrics; they just liked the beat.
Give me your hungry, your tired your poor
I'll piss on 'em
that's what the Statue of Bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses,
let's club 'em to death
and get it over with and just dump 'em on the boulevard

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At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone should tattoo this entire piece on Steve Israel's butt. When he pulls his head out ofhis ass he can read it.


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