After trying to explain to my naive students (is that redundant?) why people want to come to this country ("Why can't they just stay in their own country?" was one bright comment), I thought back to my recent trip to D.C. and the things I experienced. I started off at the Holocaust Museum and then worked my way around the mall in a counter-clockwise direction.
This is what America is all about.
It's about a game of cricket on the Washington Mall.
It's about German tourists in the Holocaust Museum.
It's about a Vietnamese family visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
It's about Japanese vendors at the Roosevelt Memorial.
It's about the dozens of languages spoken outside the gates of the White House.
It's about Muslim taxi drivers driving past the captial building.
It's about walking into your Senator's office for a quick chat.
It's about southerners and African-Americans touring the Lincoln Memorial.
It's about Republicans marrying Democrats.
They all come here because, for the most part, we tolerate (with the possible exception of open sexuality) just about anything. Where they are coming from, very little is tolerated.
We're hip deep in the manure pile that is an election year, and the accusations are flying around like little children at Disney World. Four years ago, the election was decided by nine men and women who ruled that Florida's votes would not be recounted. The current president actually lost the popular vote but still won the election. Yet the system prevailed, power was transferred and very few people lost any sleep. Ho-hum.
Even the most devestating attack on the mainland in almost 200 years hasn't truly phased us. How much has your (with apologies to those who lost loved ones on 9/11) daily routine changed?
Not much bothers us, so who is going to pay attention to a few extra people crossing the border?
Someday, maybe my students will understand this.