Matt was admonished last week by someone who told him that he shouldn’t talk to the kids about politics. In my biased opinion, his response was perfect.
He said that it is his most important job as a father to teach his children not WHAT to think, but HOW to think. He said that if he doesn’t talk to them about politics and the state of the world now, when they’re young, he’s not equipping them to be thoughtful and responsible and engaged as adults. He said that he must, as a good father, make sure they think critically, consider different view points, decide what THEY believe in, and then stand up for those beliefs.
God, I love that man.
We sat at dinner last week, on the day that Trump announced his Muslim ban, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and we talked to the children. We told them what people who support the ban think. We told them what we think. We asked what they thought.
The kids wanted more information. They couldn’t really understand what the ban DOES, how it works.
So here’s how I explained it to them:
Right now, we are American citizens living in a different country. Imagine if, while we were living in the UK, the British government decided that any American citizen was banned from coming in to England. Now imagine if they passed that law while we had been on the way back from Germany. When we got back to the airport in London, at the point where we always have to show our passports and have our fingerprints checked, instead of letting us pass to get our luggage and go home, they would have stopped us. Some people might have been handcuffed. Then imagine if they made us wait, in a room maybe together or maybe separated from each other, you guys in one place and Mommy and Daddy in another, with no information about why or what was happening. Maybe for hours and hours. And then they said we couldn’t go back to our house in England, couldn’t get our stuff, couldn’t go back to school. That is what is happening.
But, Gabe said, we didn’t do anything wrong. That’s not fair. Why would they say that just Americans can’t come back?
Why would they split the parents and the kids up? The kids would be scared, Quinn said.
What if it had just been Daddy who was on the trip for work? Owen wanted to know. Would they let him come home if we were still here?
Bridget said, I don’t think that’s right. They already said we could live here, they shouldn’t be able to take it back once we’re already here.
WHY do my children get this and there are grown adults who don’t?
You can say to me that the ban is an attempt to make America safer. I will ask that you show me when a citizen of any country on the list has committed an act of terror in the U.S. And I will ask you why you think other countries with Muslim-majority populations were omitted from the list.
You can say that the vetting process needs to be stronger. I will ask first, if you even know what the vetting process currently consists of. I did not. I researched it though. It’s a process with more than 20 steps. It can take two years to complete. And the mere fact that no one who has gone through that process has committed an act of terror on U.S. soil since that process was put in place tells me that it is probably fairly effective.
You can say that radicalized terrorists will try to use the cover of refugee status to gain entry into the U.S. I will again point out that no one who has gone through the vetting process has come to the U.S. and committed an act of terror. And I will ask what you think is happening to the children we turn away and leave in refugee camps to live in horror. They are not learning to love America; the opposite is happening and will continue to happen. We are creating a new generation of our own enemies.
You can say that it will stop illegal immigrants from coming in to the U.S. I will ask you what about the green card holders who were detained, are they illegal? What about the people who had already received visas, are they illegal? What about the refugees who had been vetted and approved, then denied entry in the end, are they illegal?
I went through the visa process when we were moving to the UK. It was confusing at best, and I am a college-educated, native English speaker. So is my husband. And still, Matt and I messed it up. Twice. It’s not clearly explained on the website or in the documentation. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to understand it in a language that is not your first language.
What is happening in America right now is not good. It is not representative of the qualities that America is most admired for, WAS most admired for, around the world. It is not the America I was proud to defend as a soldier or the America I loved as a citizen.
And I can not, will not, should not pretend it’s not happening or that it’s okay. Silence is approval. This is not okay.
My children understand that. I wish more people did.