We have recently elected a new president. Unless we experience a truly unexpected series of events, Donald Trump will be sworn in as President on January 20, 2017. With this recent election, we’ve seen many hate-inspired actions and events throughout the United States. Yet despite this, we must take a moment are reflect on what we are (still) thankful for on this Thanksgiving day.We’ve seen middle school students chant “build the wall” at a middle school, taunting and shaming Latino students. Locally, in Folsom, we seen a teacher explain “equality” as “When you hang one black person, you have to hang them all (as) that is equality.” In several places, we have seen school children scared to go to school for fear of deportation.
Despite this, we still are enjoying a peaceful transition of power from one political party to another. We need to look no further than the Philippines to see an example of true election violence. We have seen protests in several American cities, but, we have not sees assassinations as normal course of action in our elections.
Norman Rockwell, created a series of paintings named, collectively, as “The Four Freedoms.” It may be time to re-visit these works of art and what they represent and re-gain some perspective on the state of our great nation.
Freedom of Speech. The founding fathers had such a high regard to the right of expression that they included it in the very first amendment to our constitution. It is this freedom (and right), that allows us to protest against our government when we are in opposition to its policies. But we must remember to allow others to speak their mind as well. Even people who offer hate in their speech are protected by the First Amendment. As hateful and offensive some of that speech may be, we must allow others to state their horrible opinions (we will have our opportunity to refute their claims in due time).
Freedom of Worship. Another right described in the first amendment to the constitution, the right of a person to practice one’s religion freely is absolute. As I write this, we are seeing incoming government officials vilifying people of the Muslim faith. Across our nation, we are seeing White Supremacists threatening Jews and people of color with physical harm. The world has seen religious-based segregation and its consequences before. If needed we will remember our past and say “never again.”
Freedom from Want. We live in a country that is able to provide for its citizens, and people the world over. In places where people are suffering from hunger, the United States often steps up and provides food, water and other supplies. The abundance we are able to provide is staggering. We truly are a generous nation. Yet, throughout our land, we have people who are homeless and hungry. Sometimes by choice. But, often, not. We, as a nation, must not be afraid to help people who are in need.
Freedom from Fear. Despite all the challenges and danger that we, as Americans, face today. We live safe lives. We do not have war machines tearing apart our communities and taking the lives of large number of our citizens. We do not have checkpoints in the middle of our streets throughout our country. Even though there are groups that would harm us if they could, we are still able to go about our daily lives in relative safety.
As Latinos, and as Americans, we must maintain a vigil on the civil rights of all people. We can not allow the hate-filled rhetoric that permeated throughout the campaign to become reality. The Placer County Latino Democratic Club will be active in ensuring that all people are provided the opportunity to experience the Four Freedoms that define the American Experience.
We ask you to join us. We have work to do.