Ellen Kroeker, on those ‘shithole’ countries

Immigration stock photo

Dear Rebecca:

I think you know my friend Ellen Kroeker: Like me, she’s a graduate of Tabor College. And I gather, from the stories she’s told me over coffee, that my own attempts at lefty rabble-rousing at the conservative Mennonite college may pale in comparison to hers. She’s a wonderful person to know.

She’s also got some strong opinions about President Trump’s “shithole countries” comment. I asked if I could share her thoughts here. She gave permission:

Regarding the person installed in the White House and his comments about immigrants from s..hole countries:

Part of my beloved family is African by birth. My Congolese brother-in-law has a PhD in public health.

My father, an immigrant from a war-torn country, was not allowed to come to the United States because he was from a disregarded country (though now, the fact that he had been born in Russia might make him special to the president. )

Thank you, Canada, for giving the kid who saw a beheaded body when he was 4, saw people hung when he was 8, whose father disappeared when he was about 8, whose brother was taken prisoner and nearly died in prison, whose nephew starved to death, thank you, Canada, for not being afraid of an 11 year old and giving him, as well as his brothers, sisters, mother, and tiny niece Mary, refuge in North America. My grandfather, who arrived in North America two years earlier and was allowed into the US was later allowed to bring the youngest kids into the States.

This immigrant family has given this country social workers, nurses, doctors, preachers, teachers, farmers, journalists, writers, policewoman, computer specialists, linguists, truck driver, real estate salesman, antique dealer, banker, video marketer, architect….I’m sure I’m leaving out someone. Mothers and fathers who have raised children to be kind, to be decent, to care about social justice, to serve the poor and the suffering. We are the very fiber of this country. And those who are yet to come from other countries will also be part of the fiber of a country that creates and heals, not this distorted vision of hate and white supremacy that the current person staining the president’s house is promoting.

Gil just finished reading aloud the McCullough biography of John Adams, whose blessing on the White House is engraved on a fireplace there (in the dining room, I think). “…May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” That it is not so, and so blatantly not so at this time, saddens me.

Many American Mennonites can trace their heritage back only a generation or two to the first American generation of their family. We should all be saddened by the president’s comments.


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