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Today, Zach Weinersmith, the cartoonist behind the popular webcomic site Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, penned a heartbreaking speech about life in America these last few weeks. Entitled “Libertas Shrugs,” Weinersmith relates his own family’s immigration history– a long winding tail punctuated by the tragedy of the Holocaust– to us. He does this to showcase how immigration has made the United States one of the brightest lights in the modern world and how we stand to lose that light under the presidency of Donald Trump.

He writes:

I am lucky that my ancestor, Szimon Winokur, came here in 1925. I am also lucky that he was white. If he had been Chinese, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923 would have kept him out.

He brought his family here. One of his sons, my grandfather, was a small business owner. His son, my father, received a free education in New York, then went to Caltech. My father was, until his retirement, a doctor in a small town in Texas. He has six children – One is a Christian pastor. One is an executive director at a medical technology company. One is a conservative political philosopher, one is a chief technical officer in silicon valley, and my little sister is a doctor in Louisiana. I’m the one black spot on this record because I write books for a living.

We are all here, all contributing to this country because in 1925, a boat passed Ellis Island and nobody told the ill-clad funny-accented people in it to turn around because they were too poor or not Christian enough, or that they hadn’t been vetted properly. You all know the poetry – give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. The green lady’s tablet doesn’t say a thing about whether those huddled masses were Chinese or Muslim or Jew or Arab. And, it specifically enjoins us to take those who yearn for freedom. It doesn’t say take a highly educated European or Indian on an H1-B visa. It doesn’t say take a Christian or a rich business owner or a diplomat.

But, look east, and you can see Libertas shrugging. There are weights around her robes, and her torch is flickering in New York Harbor.

 

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Over the weekend, Trump and his administration took executive action to close US borders to immigrants, refuges, and even permanent residents from seven Muslim-majority countries under the guise of national security. The policy was executed haphazardly and has had a human cost, separating people who were visiting family abroad from their loved ones back in the U.S. and denying legal immigrants the rights that we had previously agreed to provide to them.

While federal judges have forced the White House to backpedal and allow greencard holders back into the country, many people remain in legal limbo, caught between federal border protection agencies that have no idea how to handle new policies that were not effectively detailed to them and the “70-year old 7-year old” who created this mess.

Yes, comics are entertainment, but comics are also culture. The stories creators tell and the stories we at The Beat report on are informed by the events unfolding around us every day. It would not only be impossible, but irresponsible to advocate the inclusive ideologies of superheroes while ignoring the villain at our doorstep who threatens to ruin everything our heroes stand for.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Your complete ignorance of US immigration history and what America’s true values are as they relate to immigration is mitigated by your brilliant cartooning skills.

    America’s primary value is to protect the life and freedom of those living in this country from any danger foreign or domestic. America has on many occasions limited immigration of specific groups for specific reasons. If you want unfettered immigration then I suggest you personally sponsor numerous immigrant families taking fiscal, physical and legal responsibility for them.

    As for the current TEMPORARY restriction on immigration from specific countries, I invite you to reflect on the many ways you daily attend to the safety of your family and loved ones. A few minutes of unbiased reflection should make it easy to understand why a TEMPORARY halt on immigration from certain countries is necessary while the current immigration process which has allowed hundreds, if not thousands, of violent criminals into the country is reviewed and revised. An argument that only a small percentage of immigrants commits violent crimes falls on deaf ears when one of those touched by a violent crime is a family member.

    I encourage you to skip a day or two of cartooning to take the time to truly understand the actions of the current administration, and invite you to consider Obama’s actions in 2011 and his last days which destroyed the hopes and dreams of many Cubans seeking refuge in America.

    If Trump’s actions are to be condemned then at least be consistent and condemn Obama’s.

    I post anonymously because all of those tolerant leftist who implore me to coexist will undoubtabely threaten me for expressing my opinion.

  2. Oor current immigration policies have not allowed tons of dangerous criminals into the country. There was a TWO YEAR vetting period for refugees that already covered this. I understand the concern but the ban, temporary as it is, is a dangerous move that plays to nationalist bigotry. History shows us this only leads to tragedy.

    Also, number of terrorist acts committed in the us by immigrants from the banned countries: 0

    Something was working.

    However we do now have six dead Muslims who were killed by a radical Trumpist. I guess we should ban Canadians now, eh?

  3. While you are doing your research you may want to investigate the Flying Tigers. Less that 20 years after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923, American VOLUNTEERS (whatever their motivation) were dying in China in an attempt to keep the Chinese free from conquest by the Japanese. While you are at it, you might want to read about the Nanking Massacre to see how the Japanese felt about those that opposed them. And how did that Long March work out for the Chinese who didn’t want to live under Communist rule?

    Remember that Lady Liberty wasn’t created by Americans, but the French. You know, the country that bans religious head coverings. You know, the SECULAR society created by a revolution that brought us the guillotine.

    Ignorance is bliss until someone dies.

  4. I appropriate what you’ve written today. We will need every voice of reason in the coming years.
    Thank you for being grounded in a time when everything feels like it’s about to be uprooted.

  5. Liberum, the article you link says there were 3 non deadly attacks with ties to 2 banned countries. But it also says all of the deadly attacks had ties to counties not banned. Why are those countries not included, other than Trump’s business ties to them?

  6. Those countries are not included because they have relatively stable governments that can produce documents that are trustworthy.

    The “Trump has business interests” is a specious argument. So do many other American companies. They have business interests in those countries because the rule of law is established in those countries and American companies can safely do business in them.

  7. For those of you that think that entering America through Ellis Island was a cake walk, please do some research. Start by noting that it is “your tired, hungry and poor” not you criminals, sickly and revolutionaries.

  8. The countries may have stable governments, but that’s where the terrorists have come from. So if you’re going to do a terrorist prevention ban, shouldn’t something be done about those countries as well? Why single out countries whose citizens might do something and not countries whose citizens are committing crimes? And if terrorists weren’t getting through from the banned countries, then wasn’t the process already working?

  9. Liberum, we already had policies in place to weed out the “criminals, sickly and revolutionaries.” from the stable governments which produced terrorists.

    According to the INtercept’s report on the FBI, we actually have a terrorist infiltration of the Us at the local law enforcement level — from white supremacist terrorist groups. These are terrorists groups just like ISIL and you are actually much more likely to be killed by one than a refugee from any of the seven banned countries. It’s a matter of perceived risk and it’s human nature.

    BTW although obviously we have very different views, thank you for being an intelligent non insulting advocate for your views. And you’ll note no one here has “threatened you” for expressing your opinion. We not all so different, if only more people remembered that.

  10. Thank you for your reasoned debate. In the past election, a neighbor at the other end of the alley was a fervent supporter of Clinton while I supported Trump with a sign in my yard. After the election she took down her sign and I took down mine and we continue to cordially discuss life, the universe and everything.

  11. So, now that we are all agreed that the seven countries shouldn’t be singled out, I will offer my “true” position on immigration.

    All visitors, guest workers, and emegres should be subject to a thorough vetting. We may even want to adopt the same standards that Mexico, China, and Saudi Arabia have for visitors, guest workers and emegres.

    I am not opposed to immigration to this great nation. My grandparents are all immigrants. But I have a very strict definition of what an immigrant is. An immigrant is someone who has left a country because they no longer want to be part of that country (for many reasons). They want to come to America because we are the land of the free, have rule of law, and are committed to keeping citizens safe from oppression by government or criminals. An immigrant comes to America to become an American, not just a citizen.

    An immigrant doesn’t come to America to never learn English, to reside in a barrio or ghetto in which there is no need to adopt the American culture, or to change America into the same failed state that they are leaving. They are welcome to keep their own culture or religion as long as in keeping it they do not violate US law or impose upon those who do not wish to participate in that foreign culture or religion.

    I even welcome illegal immigrants who come to become Americans, not just to work and send money home. I’m not happy that they entered the country illegally and that needs to be remedied. But if they are truly fleeing impending harm, then I understand and would hope that there is a way to accommodate them.

    BUT, the best solution is to find a way to help every nation become a place where all of its citizens WANT to continue living there. Not by exporting American Culture, but by encouraging each nation to provide basic RIGHTS, be they God-given or natural, to every citizen. And I mean RIGHTS, not privileges. It is not a right to enter a sovereign nation if you are not a citizen of that nation. It is a privilege, and you need to ask permission and follow the established rules for entry.

    Right now in America, the system of rules for entry is broken. Until that system is fixed, I believe the best course of action is to limit entry to many, if not all, seeking entry. Using some of the arguments above, the best course of action would be to stop entry by ALL through our southern border since most of the high profile crimes committed by immigrants are by those who entered through there.

    Well, I’m losing my train of thought and need to move on with life today. I’ll be back to continue this wonderfully civil debate.

  12. LIberum, you have a fundamentally different viewpoint of what America is than I do, and my ancestors go back to the Mayflower. I’m as white as white can be on one side…on the other a mix of Irish, French, Scottish and (according to family legend, as is so common with many whites, Indigenous.)

    I live in New York City, the site of the worst foreign terrorist attack on US soil ever, an attack carried out by people from a country no one ever thinks of vetting or sanctioning despite Saudi Arabia spreading destabilizing Wahabism around the world. Follow the money.

    I live in a city that has embraced all cultures, a city where once signs said “no wops allowed” or “no Micks allowed,” a city with those groups are now as unremarkable as the air we breath, a city where far from “changing America into the same failed state that they are leaving” immigrants from around the world contribute to a glorious, beautiful spectrum of beliefs, customs, food, colors and cultures.

    In your well meaning way you embrace xenophobic beliefs. Immigrants must “learn to speak English” – do you think people want to be unable to communicate in the country that they live in? If you got transferred to a foreign branch of the company you worked for would you be a fluent speaker in a month?

    It is undeniably a basic tenet of our true American society that we are a country of immigrants and it is the melting pot, to use the old fashioned term, that made us the (once) greatest nation on earth. And yes, that heritage includes Muslims, Jews, and every other religion. They are a part of America and what made us great, as is the compassion to take in the downtrodden of the world.

    There was no problem vetting refugees into the US before Trump was elected. that was as imaginary on the part of Trump/Bannon as the giant inauguration crowd that dwarfed all previous administrations. You can vote for Trump as a matter of liking his policies, but the man wouldn’t know truth if it bit his face off. And what once made America truly great will pay the price of this dishonesty.

    After 11 days in office we have a near civil war. That was Putin/Bannon’s plan all along. This is not making America great again. Instead it’s the beginning of what could be a very dark age around the world.

    Since everything has been so civil and we have expounded our views at length, I will now close this thread. I get the last word because its my site.

Comments are closed.