US: Equal marriage comes to Laramie, 16 years after Matthew Shepard murder · PinkNews.co.uk

Matthew Shepard We Will Never Forget

Published Originally 22nd October 2014, 12:08 PM by

Same-sex marriage has come to the town of Laramie, Wyoming – 16 years after the homophobic murder of Matthew Shepard.

Mr Shepard’s murder rocked the town in 1998 when he was robbed, beaten and left to die tied to a fence, aged 21.

Local residents Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were charged with his murder – but famously argued in court that they suffered “a moment of insanity” when Mr Shepard allegedly made sexual advances.

The town of 30,000 – which was the focus of film and stage play The Laramie Project after the killing – registered its first same-sex marriages this week, after equal marriage became law across Wyoming.

Two couples were married in the Laramie County Clerk’s office yesterday morning – Jennifer Mumaugh and AJ McDonald, and Tina Johnson and Stacey Malone.

The couples married in front of a crowd of onlookers, while the ceremonies were officiated by Reverend Audette Fulbright.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation said: “In 16 years, October has become an especially significant month for us. It was in this month that Matt was beaten, tortured and killed.

“A week from now will mark the five-year anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act being signed into law by President Barack Obama. Every October, we celebrate LGBT History Month and National Coming Out Day.

“But as same-sex couples marry in Wyoming today, joining the ranks of the 32 states and Washington D.C. that support full marriage equality, we recognize the accomplishments of this Foundation and its continuously growing number of caring, compassionate supporters.

“There are few words to capture our joy to witness love and acceptance celebrated in the place where Matt’s life was tragically taken from us.

“We know there are milestones left to achieve, but after 16 years it feels the progress of equality and acceptance for the LGBT community is slowly starting to prevail over the hate that sparked our existence; that seemingly idealistic, impossible goals are becoming a reality in rapid succession.

“Our hope for full equality across not only the nation, but across the globe, continues to grow with each marriage ban that is struck down, hate crime ordinance passed and message of hope and support we receive from one of you.

“Congratulations, Wyoming. Thirty-two down, 18 to go.”

Original Article US: Equal marriage comes to Laramie, 16 years after Matthew Shepard murder · PinkNews.co.uk.

[Emphasis Added]

JESUS IS ON THE WIRE
(Thea Hopkins)

Run down church
Red clay
River covered
In a smoky haze

Sunday morning
The fire is out
Sunday morning
No one about

The earth is soft
This time of year
Boots get caked
From there to here

Down the road
Route 25
They found this boy
He was barely alive

Jesus is on the wire
So far away, higher and higher
Jesus is on the wire

They took him down
Off the fence
Cold as ice
Almost dead
They said that he
That he slept with guys
They said that he
Deserved to die

Jesus is on the wire
So far away, higher and higher
Jesus is on the wire

 

Clinton: Women’s rights ‘under assault’ by Republicans – Yahoo News

Hillary Clinton attends a campaign rally for Colorado Democratic candidates

Hillary Clinton attends a campaign rally for Colorado Democratic candidates in Aurora, Colorado, on October 21, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ivan Couronne)

Denver (AFP) – Hillary Clinton urged Americans not to vote for Republicans who dwell on the past, warning at a Democratic campaign rally Tuesday that conservatives seek to keep women’s rights “under assault” nationwide.

Applauded by hundreds of supporters in suburban Denver, the former secretary of state lent her political celebrity to Colorado’s embattled Senate incumbent Mark Udall, who trails in the polls and has made securing constituent’s rights to abortion and contraception the central theme of his campaign.

“Don’t vote for people who proudly tell you they will never compromise, don’t vote for people whose image of the future sounds awfully like the past,” Clinton said in a 25-minute address.

The presumptive frontrunner for the 2016 White House race made no mention of her own political ambitions, instead devoting her words exclusively to supporting Colorado Democrats on the ballot in the November 4 midterm election.

The entire House of Representatives and just over one third of the Senate is up for grabs. Republicans are expected to hold their House majority and have a better-than-even shot at winning back the Senate, a scenario that heaps pressure on Democrats in a handful of battleground states, such as Colorado.

“This election is important to everyone but especially…

Read More Clinton: Women’s rights ‘under assault’ by Republicans – Yahoo News.

Australian teenager in Isil video an ‘idiot’, says family – Telegraph

Sydney teenager Abdullah Elmir

A Sydney teenager who fled to Syria and has appeared in an Islamic State video which threatens Tony Abbott, Australia’s prime minister, as well as Britain and the United States has been condemned by his family as a brainwashed “idiot”.

Abdullah Elmir, 17, told his family he was going on a fishing trip four months ago but travelled to Syria to fight with the jihadists.

In a video labelled “chilling” by the government, Elmir appears with other armed jihadists and makes an address to “the people of America … the people of Britain … and especially to the people of Australia”.

“Bring every nation that you want to come and fight us,” he says in the video. “Whether it’s 50 nations or 50 thousand nations it means nothing to us.” A family member, who would not be named, said Elmir was “a stupid idiot”.

“We never associated with him, that guy was brainwashed, I don’t know what these kids get into,” the relative told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

Muslim groups in Australia also strongly condemned the video.

Elmir is believed to be the child of an Australian-born mother and Lebanese-born father.

He travelled to Syria with a 16-year-old Australian boy. The pair are now unlikely to be allowed to return to Australia under Mr Abbott’s new anti-terrorism laws.

An expert on home-grown terrorists in Australia said extremists were…

Read More Australian teenager in Isil video an ‘idiot’, says family – Telegraph.

PressTV – Racial, religious hate crimes on the rise in UK

EDL Hate Crime

Racial and religious hate crimes are on the rise in Britain with the number of reported cases hitting record figures, Press TV reports.

A new Home Office report showed racial hate crimes made up 84 percent of all hate crimes in Britain, rising 4 percent to 37,484 incidents. The study also showed that religious hate crimes made up 5 percent of all hate crimes, but rose 45 percent to 2,273 cases.

“We are living at the time when sort of Islamophobia and hatred towards Muslims has become a culture. It is no longer something that is only perpetrated by the extreme right or a particular community,” Massoud Shadjareh from the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) told Press TV.

Meanwhile, the Tell MAMA, an organization that monitors anti-Muslim activities, found that there was a 400-percent spike in religiously motivated hate crimes in the immediate aftermath of the murder of British Army soldier Lee Rigby in south-east London.

About 40 percent of the reported cases to the hotline involved a link to far-right groups such as the so-called English Defense League (EDL) and Britain First, the organization said.

“After his [Rigby’s] murder, we saw a lot of people, particularly on the far right, essentially feeling as if all Muslims were responsible for what happened to drummer Lee Rigby, which is of course a kind of ridiculous notion,” Bharath Ganesh from Tell MAMA said.

Hate crime is not the only crime that has soared in the UK. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the number of rape cases in England and Wales increased 29 percent to 22,116 incidents in the one-year period ending in June, the highest level recorded.

See Video Here PressTV – Racial, religious hate crimes on the rise in UK.

Bill Maher Does Not Speak For Me And Millions Of Other Non-Believers And Progressives On Islam and Muslims

Two American Muslim Girls

Credit – publicinsightnetwork.org

I have and will continue to defend Muslims against hateful rhetoric whenever I hear it or see it no matter who is behind it.  Just as I do the same for others who are experiencing discrimination and hate against them.  Millions of others will continue to do the same thing, including millions of other non-believers and progressives.  Bill Maher simply does not speak for the majority of us non-believers and progressives, he simply speaks for himself and the minority of non-believers and progressives who have chosen to give into the politics of hate, division, and exclusion.  Many of us have no problem with people of faith or even religion in general and God even though we may choose not to believe.  This includes when speaking of Islam and Muslims.  Many of us are as opposed to hate within atheist circles as we are hate within religious circles.  Hate has no place in belief or non-belief.

I find it frankly hypocritical some of the same people who become enraged when they feel someone is pushing religion on them have no problem frequently pushing their atheistic views onto others.  They are just plain cruel to people of faith and say the most hurtful things.  They broad brush all people of faith, based on some people of faith.  They insult their intelligence, their beliefs, their entire scripture, their God, even their humanity every chance they get.  They live to persecute people.  You don’t have to believe in God and religious based morality to know it is wrong to discriminate against people and preach hate.  I believe in reason and science as much as the next non-believer, am as skeptical of religious traditions, am as bothered by many religious scripture passages, am as upset by religious extremism, am as angry over religious conservatives preaching hate and trying to force their morality into law, etc… but I refuse to malign entire faiths and believers as a whole.  I refuse to help propagate hate and cruelty in this world.  I refuse to help propagate hateful propaganda.  I refuse to see any of my fellow humanity as less than human.

Non belief without such ethics and secular morality can be as evil as religious extremism.  We only need to look at examples in history of examples of evil tyrannies not based in religion to know they too can be just as evil as religious tyrannies.  Every time I hear some of my fellow atheist blame religion for all tyranny in the world, I remind them of Joseph Stalin and the former Soviet Union or other such tyranny.  Some of my fellow non-believers conveniently forget such examples of tyranny.  Atheist can and do commit acts just as evil as people of faith.  Atheist can and do commit acts just as virtuous as people of faith.  The presence or absence of faith alone should not be used to judge someone’s character, values, motivations, heart, mind, etc…  I tire of atheist self-righteousness as much as I do religious self-righteousness.  Let’s face it we are all human beings and as human beings we all have thought, said, and done things we are not proud of.  Anyone who says otherwise is lying or without a conscience.  Lets get over this us against them attitude, believers vs non-believers, and learn to recognize we are all imperfect human beings.

There is another thing I tire of, intellectual bullying, that some like to engage in.  I have nothing against intellectuals at all and am an avid learner myself, but those who use their gift to cause harm to others or advocate hate, cruelty, hardship, etc… on others yes I am very opposed to that.  People should not use their gifts they posses like a good mind, good heart, good looks to use for evil against their fellow-man.  Such traits can bring a lot of good to the world or a lot of evil depending on how people make use of those traits.  People can use their good mind to deceive, lie, advocate for policies that will harm people, etc….  People with a good heart can use that to gain trust in people when their intentions are bad, to cause people to accept something that is hurtful to people, to lead people astray etc….  People with good looks can use them to seduce people to do something that goes against their own interest, to more easily get away with doing bad, to get people to support them even when they are advocating for harmful things, etc…  People should not use their intellect and knowledge for bad purposes such as to discriminate , persecute, and cause hate against others.

Bill Maher is acting as an intellectual bully, a self-righteous militant atheist, and cynical misanthrope against his fellow humanity.  Sadly he is not the only non-believer and progressive who chooses to behave that way.  This is not to say in any way or even suggest such has anything to do with non-belief or progressivism.  I only mean to say I am tired of this kind of behavior and attitudes among some of my fellow non-believers and progressives.  They are one of the reasons there is a lot of negative beliefs about atheist and progressives.  It is unfortunate that many people broad brush people, pigeonhole, categorize them, etc… based on the beliefs and actions of some but they do.  We see this same phenomenon happening to every class of people in the world.  Many rather than looking at people as individuals, they look at them as what class of people we as society have categorized them into.  They judge that class of people they belong to based on some, including some well-known and vocal people of that class.  When some people hear your atheist and a progressive the first person they may think of is Bill Maher.  I am here to set the record straight; Bill Maher speaks and acts on his own like everyone else.  He nor anyone else should be seen to represent anyone other than themselves.

Since 9/11/01 what I have witnessed against Muslims and the Islamic faith has made me sad and angry at the same time.  Sad that in the 21st century still this hate, fear, and ignorance.  Angry that people unapologetically could speak and behave in such a way and have so many cheering them on.  It may not be near to the level of antisemitism in Nazi Germany but if something is not done to combat this hate in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Russia etc… I fear we are heading in that direction.  Muslims are being verbally and physically attacked at an unprecedented rate.  Muslims are being verbally assaulted while out in public, Mosque have been attacked and vandalized, anti-Muslim demonstrations have been held, harm and death threats have been issued, some Muslims have even been tortured and beaten to death.  Everyone of you who have spoken hateful and harsh things against Muslims and Islam are partly to blame for that.  Just as the Germans in Nazi Germany who saluted and followed Hitler were partly responsible for the crimes that took place in Nazi Germany and Europe.  Words can kill, any who do not realize that should just look at history.  The worst evils in the history of humanity began just as ideas, then words, then actions.  Islamophobia is just as ugly as racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment and all the other kinds of hate we on the left especially speak out against.  It is time to speak out against Islamophobia and all its many expressions.

I have had it with hate and cruelty in this world.  I am sick of it.  I am losing patience with those who promote it.  That is no matter what faith they belong to or if they belong to know faith at all.  No matter what race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, ability or disability, etc… a person has, hate is still hate and cruelty is still cruelty.  I have even heard such hate in my family, among my own friends, in my neighborhood, in my community so it hits very close to home.  I have made a point to speak out against it and even make a point to avoid certain people including family members and relatives who continue to promote it.  It has nothing to do with self-righteousness but everything to do with refusing to support hatred and cruelty or be around those who promote it.  I refuse to be friends with people who continue to promote hate and cruelty.  I don’t want that kind of negative energy and influence, to support that kind of ignorance and hate, to associate with people with that kind of mentality.  I still love them, it hurts with some of them I can not have a good relationship with them, but I refuse to be around such negativity and negative people.  They can be as hateful and cruel as they want but I am not going to listen to it or be around it.  I tried in the past to bite my tongue, ignore it, overlook it but that has become very difficult.  I refuse to be silent no longer.

I say its time we all do the same thing, speak out and refuse to tolerate hate.  It is when hate is ignored and tolerated when it grows.  It starts out small enough a comment there, a comment here, then rhetorical talking points, then fiery speeches, then support of inhumane polices, then enacting those polices, then tragedy.  Ignoring such hate and cruelty is what has happened in our Nations schools with bullying; the attempt to excuse it, minimize it, ignore it, allow it to grow more severe has created an environment in many schools where bullying is common place.  We need not become severe ourselves in seeking solutions to combat hate and cruelty, but we need not excuse it, minimize it, ignore it, or allow it to grow more severe either.  We need to, as we have largely as a society did against racism and sexism and attempting to do the same with homophobia, do the same to combat Islamophobia.  We need to not just nip it in the bud but extract it at its roots.  Its roots being ignorance and fear.  I am not going to stand by and watch a repeat of the antisemitism of the 1930’s and 1940’s happen to Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern peoples or no other peoples.  I see us as a world heading in that direction if we don’t do much more to address such now in its earlier stages.  We can not let such gain a foothold and grow.  Eventually as these things tend to do, it gets to a certain point and it is hard to combat.  Then tragedy happens.

Some will accuse me of being like the character Chicken Little saying the sky is falling.  Some will attempt to minimize the degree Islamophobia has taken root in our societies.  Some will write this article off as the ramblings of some politically correct, liberal, lunatic.  However in the early 30’s few saw the dangers of antisemitism and people who were speaking out against such went largely ignored, were criticized, or even demonized.  A few years later into the decade though many began to see the dangers of such.  When even a sizable percentage of the left, that has historically been champions of religious minorities, has began adopting ideas and words out of Islamophobia then we should all begin to be afraid.  I am not even Muslim and I am afraid of what I am hearing and observing regarding Islamophobia happening in the United States and various places around the world.  When I see it becoming part of the political debate and policies in various places around the world I began to fear for the future.  I am not going to be silent, I am not going to submit, I am not going to follow hate and cruelty or those who routinely actively promote it.  We all need to speak up, before we are forced in a few years or decade’s time to bear witness to tragedy.  Islamophobia is not something to pretend it is not a major problem or that it will go away on its own.  We must not allow history to repeat itself.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”  Martin Niemöller

Continuing to fight the good fight,

Alan Curtis Montgomery

Bienvenido Gay Marriage To The Grand Canyon State: Home Of Barry Goldwater and Cesar Chavez

Gay Marriage In AZ

It’s Official Gay Marriage Has Come To Arizona, The Grand Canyon State!  Starting Immediately Same-Sex Couples Can Legally Marry In All 15 Arizona Counties.  This Is A Historic Day For Arizona And All Arizonans Who Believe In Equal Rights Under The Law.

I am proud to be a member of Arizona’s LGBTQ community and exhilarated that same-sex marriage has finally come to The Grand Canyon State.  Just over a century ago on Valentine’s Day of 1912 Arizona officially joined the Union.  Back then Arizona was one of the most forward thinking and progressive states in the Union.  It was so progressive in fact Arizona had to moderate some of its positions before the Taft Administration would sign a bill allowing Arizona to receive statehood.  Arizona from its founding has had a rugged sense of Independence and pioneering spirit.  Arizona from its founding has been home to several American Indian tribes, Mexican immigrants, African Americans, Mormon pioneers, people with German, English, and Scotch-Irish ancestry, and peoples from all corners of the earth.  It essentially covers the spectrum of the human race.

Arizona has gotten a bad rap in recent decades and while much of that was deserved, it is far from the whole story of Arizona.  Not every Arizonan is backwards, hateful, and extremely conservative, in fact most Arizonans are not.  It just is unfortunate that the ones who are; tend to be very politically active, vocal, and attempt to get involved in State politics.  They have sometimes controlled the debate in recent years, but eventually the everyday Arizonans who just want to live and let live take a stand and make it known they believe in a tolerant and welcoming Arizona of all peoples and classes.  This live and let live attitude is more than just a saying in this state, it is a principle and way of life that many Arizonans have.  Arizonans overwhelmingly are not known as busybodies and ones who tell other people how to live their lives.  They do not take kindly to nanny states and morality crusaders telling people how to live.  This is the typical Arizona attitude that unfortunately is not often portrayed in the media.

If you only judge Arizona by its legislature, you are missing the real picture of Arizona.  Now while it is true the majority of voters did put those members into the legislature, consider that statement.  The majority of voters, the truth is Arizona unfortunately has a very poor voter registration and turnout record.  This is even more apparent of Independent and Democratic and Democratic leaning voters.  The conservative right in this State however does a very good job of getting out their voters to the polls during elections.  This just further demoralizes inactive voters to why bother voting, this State is controlled by the GOP anyway.  This becomes a vicious cycle of voter disenfranchisement and low participation.  If every Arizonan voted on election day Arizona would be a center-left leaning purple state.  That’s right Arizona is a purple state not a red state, and has been for sometime.

Arizona is known for its wonderful National landmarks, most notably the Grand Canyon.  I may be a little bias obviously being born and raised in the State and a lifetime resident, but Arizona is truly the most beautiful State in The United States of America.  Rather you prefer the beauty of the desert, the plateau, or the forest you will find it in Arizona.  You likely have seen several magnificent shots of Arizona scenery by now and may not have even realized you were viewing majestic Arizona.  Rather an impressive lightning shot during a nighttime thunderstorm during Arizona’s monsoon, a picturesque rainbow over the grand canyon after an afternoon shower, a landscape of Saguaros and other cacti, a Ponderosa Pine forest, or one of the thousands of species of wildlife in Arizona you have likely saw a capture of Arizona’s beauty.  The type of beauty that can’t be described but you just have to see it for yourself.

Many people remember Arizona being home to the late Barry Goldwater.  Some post Reagan historical revisionist may remember him as Mr. Conservative but the reality is Goldwater would have been classified as a libertarian today and towards the end of his life became very much a liberal on many of his positions he took.  Barry Goldwater was pro gay rights before gay rights were even popular.  Many conservatives conveniently forget this or perhaps never realized his liberal position on gay rights.  Though in reality his being pro gay rights had very much to do with his libertarian live and let live Arizona attitude.  Many may also not realize Barry Goldwater first came around to gay rights when a beloved grandson of his came out as gay in the latter part of Barry Goldwater’s life.  This grandson that he watched grow up who was only 8 years old during his Presidential run against LBJ in 1964.  Knowing someone close to him who was gay likely played a big role in Barry Goldwater’s support of gay rights.  Ty Ross Goldwater currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, works as an interior designer, is active in LGBT rights activism, and is HIV positive.

Arizona is also home to a well-known civil rights, workers rights, and immigrant rights activist Cesar Chavez.  Much of his activism was spent in California rallying for migrant farm workers.  This is what he is best known for, but many people would be surprised to know Cesar Chavez was also a supporter of gay rights and was involved in activism with the LGBT community as well.  He saw discrimination as discrimination and was adamantly opposed to it, no matter which minority group was being targeted.  Like Barry Goldwater it is sad that this part of Cesar Chavez’s beliefs and activism is often ignored when they are talked about by historians, political commentators, journalist, and others.  They would surely both be happy over this decision today that legalized same-sex marriage in Arizona.  You will hear few social conservatives mention this fact, but it is the honest truth.  You don’t have to dig far into researching the life of either man to find this to be the case.

Now Arizonans who are LGBTQ can feel they are no longer as much second class citizens in this state.  They can enjoy the same right guaranteed to heterosexual couples and marry should they so choose.  They can feel more pride in their State that it has broken the 30 state same-sex marriage barrier and now stands as the 31st State that allows same-sex marriage.  This is not to say the battle for equality is over by any means.  Much work yet remains for full equality for those who are LGBTQ such as all the rights guaranteed to heterosexual couples that are not necessarily covered by this decision.  Much work yet remains to end discrimination against those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning.  Much work yet remains to address issues like LGBTQ kids being bullied in school and being at higher risk for suicide and substance abuse.  Much work yet remains for those who are transgender and their rights that all too often get ignored even in the gay and lesbian community.  Much work yet remains in the gay community regarding HIV and AIDS which still disproportionately effects men who have sex with men.  Much work yet remains for the young LGBTQ homeless population who were rejected by their families and were either forced out or decided to be on the streets because of lack of acceptance by their family.  Much work yet remains in the many rights and privileges enjoyed by heterosexuals that are not fully enjoyed by those who are LGBTQ.  The work is not over, but Arizona we are well on our way.

Alan Curtis Montgomery

For those interested in learning more here is the PDF of the court decision that paved the way for same-sex marriage in Arizona:

https://worldhumanrights.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/1018az-gay-marriage-ruling.pdf

Here is the PDF of the Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne decision not to appeal the ruling:

https://worldhumanrights.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/horne-letter-clerk-court.pdf

Welcome To The Neighborhood: Immigrant and Refugee Families Come To America

Immigrant Children

Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

You have likely heard by now several reports on the news about immigration and refugee crises happening along our southern border in the United States and elsewhere in the world such as with the conflict happening in Syria.  Escaping from economic hardship, civil unrest, armed conflicts, crime, corruption, oppression, and persecution individuals and families are being forced to flee from their home countries and begin a new life elsewhere.  There is a worldwide migration happening in several areas around the world today, as mentioned for a variety of reasons.  While people migrating is nothing new, the recent years has seen an increase globally as crises around the globe drive people from their homelands.  This is far from an issue the United States is dealing with alone, but places like Europe and the Middle East along with other places around the world are having an increase in migrants coming to their borders and shores as well.

While some people have been welcoming of the migrants others have taken a very hostile attitude.  It is no secret that generally speaking the political left is much more welcoming of immigrants and refugees than the political right.  This has been the case for several decades.  What has changed though in that time is the ferocity of anti-immigrant sentiment seen primarily on the political right in America today.  At the same time the political left has become more pro-multiculturalism and accepting of immigrant and refugee populations of migrants, the right has moved in the opposite direction.  This has led to heated political and social debates over immigration, immigration policy, and even issues dealing with foreign policy.  This debate is not likely to calm down anytime soon and may even get more heated as more immigrants and refugees come to America due to crises around the globe.

I ask though everyone for a moment to take off their partisan lenses and look at such issues as a compassionate human being.  Ignore the racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, and cultural differences and see people in the same way if your family member, friend, or neighbor were in a similar situation as immigrant and refugee families are in.  Put aside prejudice, bias, and former ideas and look at such situations as if it is the first time you considered them.  Now ask yourself is our Nation the United States and world doing near enough to address such issues?  Are we treating immigrants and refugees with the dignity and humanity we wish was shown to us?  Are we doing enough to accept and adopt them as our own Countrymen by sewing them into the larger American fabric?  The answer to all three questions is a resounding NO!

We as a Nation and world have not addressed and spoken about such issues enough.  We see politicians right, left, and center ignore issues like immigration reform routinely.  Showing compassion to immigrant children and families which is a natural human emotion is politically punished and cruel indifference or harsh rhetoric is rewarded.  We hear in the media especially conservative citizens in border states, the South, and those over 65 make less than kind statements about immigrants routinely when they are interviewed.  We hear several of those on the left talk about our broken immigration system.  In other words the people want to talk about and debate such issues, and the more proactive citizens look for solutions to solving the immigration crisis.  The politicians though by and large seem to want to avoid the topic except when sudden high-profile crisis spring up in our immigration system.

The way we have been treating immigrant children in immigration centers in various places around the Country has been a National embarrassment and disgrace.  Whats worse the more hardhearted of American citizens even complain about the cost and effort of even that pitiful attempt to provide for these children.  It is pretty pathetic that even poor Nations like Lebanon do a superior job of caring and providing for refugee children within their borders then we do caring for a much smaller population of immigrant children here within our own borders.  The funding we provide is inadequate, the facilities we provide are little more than large warehouses, the training is grossly lacking, the facilities are understaffed, our court systems are also greatly understaffed, and the entire system is simply broken and dysfunctional.  We simply are not showing the level of commitment and concern to address this population.

When it comes to adopting the immigrant population into the larger American fabric, those who are undocumented even more so, we do a very poor job of accomplishing this.  We simply cast them to the margins and treat them as permanent second class citizens, if we even acknowledge them as citizens at all.  We get this self-righteous indignation that they failed to follow the law and came into this Country unlawfully.  The fact they speak a different language, may have a darker shade of skin than us, and come from a different culture causes many of us to see them as the other.  In times of high unemployment, economic hardship, social problems we often look for scapegoats to blame for such issues and it is no secret immigrants do make and have historically made a convenient scapegoat.  We blame them for inadequacies and faults of our own.  Rather then see them as neighbors and equals, we may see them as the other and less than.  We make little effort as individuals or as a Nation to integrate them into America and its culture and social fabric.  This leads to further divisions and distrust and cultural clashes.

The truth is rather conservative and traditional Americans are happy about it or not, America will continue to become more diverse and multiculturalism will be the rule of the day.  In spite of the calls to wall off America from our neighbors and the rest of our fellow humanity and limit immigration, the exact opposite will take place.  America will be the most diverse, multicultural, multi-ethnic, socially varied Nation in the world and we are well on our way to already holding that distinction if we do not already.  The days of white Anglo-Saxon Protestant dominance is coming to a close, it already has societally in many ways, and soon our political system and corporations will reflect those changes.  Soon we will be a majority, minority, Nation and there will be no class of people powerful enough to strong-arm the others as they have done in the past.  We will have to learn to get along through cooperation and mutually beneficial action.  We will have to share power and influence.  Democracy will come to dominate, as Republicanism where the aristocratic elite and ruling class rule the majority, will no longer meet the needs of this new society.  Age old prejudices and injustices will fade away into history.  The new generation will tend to see everything in a more global and interconnected way, though will maintain an aggressive sense of independence and individuality.

People should expect many millions more immigrant and refugee families coming to America in the coming years.  Immigration will not slow down overall but will only increase.  It will not only be working class neighborhoods who will notice this phenomenon but middle and upper class neighborhoods as well.  We are already seeing this occurring in a major way.  Immigrant and refugee families are calling America their new home, and while some are anything but welcoming many Americans are beginning to welcome them and accept them as part of the neighborhood.  Many American’s have accepted as the new reality, that traditional white Americana is being replaced with a more diverse and multicultural vision.  In some areas of the Country learning Spanish will soon be almost a necessity just to go about daily life.  Mexican Holidays have become so popular in some areas that even non-Latino members of the population have come to celebrate them.  The art within many major cities has greatly been influenced by Latino and other cultural influences.  The food, restaurants, grocery stores, and shops have gained a more ethnic and diverse flavor.  Even English in many border states spoken by many non-Latino whites has a slight Latin dialect that did not exist in the past.  Fashion, music, movies also reflect the changes happening in neighborhoods across the Country.

It is not just Latino influences that have been impacting our culture but other cultures as well.  Many people have emigrated from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere as well.  Not just to large urban centers as in the past but throughout suburban areas and towns across the Country.  Older white conservatives are feeling threatened by these changes and this feeling of fear is making them cleave not to their guns and religion, but conservative reactionary politics as espoused by the Tea Party.  They are feeling pushed aside and feeling their way of life and beliefs are being undermined.  They see the writing on the wall, they know their way of life and beliefs is of the past not the future.  They will either have to adapt to the changing times or continue to fight against an overwhelming tide of change that can not possibly be stopped.  The sooner they realize the futility of fighting against such change the better for them and the Nation as a whole.  They like every other American will have to adapt to the times or they will be left behind the times and put at a disadvantage.  Try as some might they will not stop this trend or slow it down, it is inevitable and will continue to progress.  America is, as it has been from its birth, in a constant state of change.  It is America’s ability to adapt, what has allowed it to continue when so many were sure it was finished.

If you do not yet have an immigrant or refugee family in your neighborhood you likely will someday soon.  Some may have several families move to the neighborhood who are of that population.  Now you can choose to ignore them, distrust them, fear them, and the like or you can make the effort to reach out to them and get to know them, the choice is yours.  In a free Country you can’t tell people where they can and can not live, so you better get used to them living there for their and your sake.  Don’t let walls that separate property become walls that separate humanity.  Don’t let cultural or religious differences cause distrust and looking down on people.  Learn for once to see things outside your own perspective, your own background, your own comfort zone.  You just may come to grow as a human being and learn something at the same time.  Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and imagine you being in a similar situation and feeling as an outsider in your new community.  Would not you also want people to respect you and make you feel you belong?  Get over the past and the way things used to be, America is not going back to those times and never will.  Either join America in the present and look forward towards the future or be angry, depressed, and bitter longing for a past that shall never return.  America is changing; are you going to change with it and prosper or fight those changes and continue to fail?

Alan Curtis Montgomery