Las Vegas Sun

July 18, 2018

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Where I Stand:

A conditional welcome to President Trump

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Evan Vucci / AP

President Donald Trump talks to reporters before getting into his vehicle at McCarran International Airport to go meet with victims and first responders of the mass shooting, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas.

Welcome to Las Vegas, Mr. President.

I hear you are coming for a fundraiser for Sen. Dean Heller. He can use your help.

I am sure you will do well because raising money is something at which most presidents are good. Besides, you have friends here. One of the wealthiest men in the world, Sheldon Adelson, happens to be your good friend and benefactor. I expect he or his folks will be happy to chip in.

Las Vegas also has a great number of people who exalt their financial situations above all else. They will want to thank you for the gift you gave them in the tax bill and other policy changes that they deem economically advantageous.

But, if you look closely while you are here, you will notice that the rest of our city — the Las Vegas workforce — is made up of many people who come from other places to pursue their American dream. They are new immigrants or are just one or two generations removed. And a large number of those people look and sound just like the parents and children whom you allowed to be emotionally brutalized on our southern border.

Yes, Mr. President, you were the responsible party. And you proved that by unilaterally undoing this week what you did a few weeks earlier. It remains to be seen if you have fixed this mess or made it even worse.

It was not only wrong, it was immoral. Separating young children, even toddlers, from their parents at the border in the name of national security was a callous disregard for American values (the values you swore to uphold when you took your oath of office­ — you know, the part about protecting and defending the Constitution).

However you tried to explain it and whatever tortured rationale you used, Americans saw only small children being torn from their mothers’ arms, and that was just plain wrong! And it did not make America great.

I am reminded of a movie from 2013 called, “Walking With the Enemy.” It was set in Hungary during World War II at the time when Adolf Hitler decided that Hungary needed to benefit from his Aryan dream for Europe. That meant Hungary had to deal with its “Jewish” problem.

There is a scene in the movie when parents are saying goodbye to their very young children, putting them on trucks in the hands of strangers and knowing they would never see them again. They did all of that because they, as parents, had the responsibility of doing their best to make sure that their children would live, which would not be the case if they stayed in Hungary at the mercy of Hitler.

The scene was heart-wrenching because parents were sending their children off to more hopeful lives knowing full well that they would be doomed to death by staying behind. It was a sacrifice that parents in every generation are prepared to make every day for their children.

While there is no comparison between the Holocaust and anything else we have witnessed about man’s inhumanity to man, there is a common thread that binds one generation of parents to another.

When I watched what was happening at our own southern border — American officials forcibly taking children and infants away from their parents — I couldn’t help but think about the gut-wrenching decisions those parents are making to provide their children the hope of a better life than what would be their fate in their own countries.

And I couldn’t discern a lot of difference between now and then.

Except America is not and must never be anything like Nazi Germany.

So I asked myself how could this be happening in the United States? Didn’t we learn this lesson once before when America turned its back on the suffering of Jewish families in Europe? How can we watch our television sets and see what our own country, our president, was doing in our name and do nothing?

No, it cannot be enough for those who like your rhetoric to mouth the words, almost inaudibly, of disagreement without screaming at them from the rooftops.

No, it cannot be enough for those who like your Supreme Court pick to meekly proclaim that they disagree with your decision to break up families when they yell at every opportunity about their commitment to family values.

No, it cannot be enough for Americans to say they believe in biblical admonitions and then forfeit their souls on the altar of immorality in return for a little more profit from their president’s tax bill.

And, no, it absolutely cannot be enough for you to get a pass from the one Las Vegan who can make a difference just because you moved an embassy to Jerusalem.

The horror of what was happening before our eyes was finally reversed with the stroke of your pen. But I don’t think the horror on our border is resolved. Why won’t you let the media and others see what is happening to these children?

You kept your policy of zero tolerance and say you found a more humane way to treat humans large and small. It was a way, I might add, that you said was not possible to find and a way that your hard-core supporters thought was just fine — until you changed your mind.

The president should always be welcome in Las Vegas or any city in this country. But what you, President Trump, did to those children in America’s name must never be welcome in this country.

What you did at the border was just plain wrong and immoral. I hope your friends tell you as much in Las Vegas while you raise money.

After all, what kind of friends — what kind of Americans — would they be if they just stood silently on the sidelines and said or did nothing while our president helps America lose its soul?

There should be zero tolerance for such friends.

Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.