The media is ablaze over the question President Trump reportedly asked lawmakers in an oval office meeting on immigration Thursday: “Why are we having all these people from sh****** countries come here?”
To Trump’s question I would respond: Mr. President, there are sh****** countries around the world. There are terrible countries where governments are corrupt, people are expendable, dignity is nonexistent, the population is uncared for and uneducated, infrastructure is missing, and those who have power and money basically own those who don’t. In these countries life is bleak, and suffering is so overwhelming that often the only options are death or flight.
In the country of Iraq where I was born, and which my latent love of motherland will only allow me to call a quasi-sh******, there are currently 3 million internally displaced people, more than 8 percent of the population. Across the Middle East there are millions of refugees in camps because someone believed they were worthless.
These countries exist in this state because somewhere in the hierarchy of their societies, a critical mass of people are okay with the degradation of humanity, okay with dismissing lives as worthless. America might not be there yet. But it seems that you and some of your colleagues are approaching that same kind of contempt for humanity.
Mr. President, I beg you: Use your position to elevate the conversation, to elevate these neighbors in such desperate need. Create a climate of human worthiness that will pressure their governments to create a space for these people to flourish. What concerns me is that your statements are not just words, but they convey our values, and if we continue to devalue each other, we too will become a sh****** country.
In our own backyard, there is human abduction and coercion, sex trafficking, drug addiction, sexual abuse, and all manner of violence and deprivation perpetrated by one human being upon another. We too have sh****** tendencies. That’s because too many people don’t see each other as valuable human beings and precious souls, but instead as economic units.
Your rhetoric continues to drive our national character in this direction.
The answer is not to bring everyone from these countries to America. Not only would that not be fitting for us, but that is not what is best for them in the long run. Some may be better off coming here, and we may be better off if they do. But what is good and right is for them to have a chance to flourish in their own lands. And to have any hope of making that happen we have to first believe that they are worth it, that they are worth something based on the value of their humanity alone.
Luma Simms is a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. She writes on culture, family, philosophy, politics, religion, and the life and thought of immigrants. Her work has appeared at First Things Magazine, Public Discourse, The Federalist, and elsewhere.