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“Toxic Anti-American Talk”: The GOP’ers Just Don’t Get What America Is About

In the fall of 1943, a remarkable football game was played on the Eastern Plains of Colorado, the open, desolate, sparsely-populated landscape that pulls up to the great Rocky Mountains like the ebb of an inland sea they once were.

Dotted with small towns and grain towers, among the other installations on Colorado’s Eastern Plains during World War II was the Granada Relocation Center for Japanese Americans, colloquially known as Amache after a Cheyenne Indian Chief’s daughter. Like the communities around it, Amache was too small to field a full 11-man football team so instead they played six-man, including against a squad from the nearby town of Holly, the Holly High School Wildcats. They were prisoners and designated not-Americans, yet played that most American of sports.

The Amache team won that six-man football game in 1943, 7-0. Among the players on the Holly team was a teenage farm boy named Roy Romer. “We felt strange,” he recalled. “Why were folks herded here?”

Romer would go on to become four-term governor of Colorado and chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He talked about growing up in the shadow of Amache as a lifelong influence on his support for civil rights and treating people equally. Romer was part of the Colorado contingent that marched on the last day from Selma to Montgomery with Dr. King, and he was one of the first national figures to support LGBT rights by opposing Colorado’s anti-gay Amendment 2.

Colorado’s Republican governor at the time, Ralph Carr, opposed Executive Order 9066, the internment of Japanese Americans and said of them, “the Japanese are protected by the same Constitution that protects us. An American citizen of Japanese descent has the same rights as any other citizen. … If you harm them, you must first harm me. I was brought up in small towns where I knew the shame and dishonor of race hatred. I grew to despise it.”

Considered a rising star in the national Republican Party, Carr’s pro-civil rights stand provoked a firestorm of ugly criticism and cost him the 1942 Colorado Senate race. Amache ended Ralph Carr’s career. It began Roy Romer’s.

So when I hear the ugly rhetoric around Muslims not being real Americans from Donald Trump and Ben Carson, and the pejorative “anchor babies” from Jeb Bush, I think, have we learned nothing from Amache? I witness the hateful, divisive venom from Trump and Carson and the “birthers” and I wonder, what makes your family any better or different? What entitles you to separate yourself from people named Khan and Rodriguez and Obama – and for that matter, Reince Priebus?

This is toxic and anti-American. Rep. Mike Honda and his family were interned at Amache. The late Sen. Dan Inouye lost an arm for this country serving in a Japanese-American combat unit. He was awarded the Medal of Honor along with 20 other Nisei solders who were members of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, many of whom had family members in internment camps. Sometimes the “hyphenated” citizens of this country give us better than the non-hyphenated ones deserve.

If there’s one thing that defines this country above all others, it is that we are made up of people who wanted to come here. E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one.

The people in Amache were Americans. So are 3 million Muslim Americans. So is Jorge Ramos. When it comes to our values, Trump, Carson and the racist birther idiots they feed in the hopes of becoming president, I’m not so sure.

 

By: Laura Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, September 23, 2015

September 24, 2015 Posted by | America, Ben Carson, Donald Trump | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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