From last Monday until yesterday, I spent hour after hour, day after day thinking and talking about the bombs and the terrorists and the aftermath of a Patriots Day event at the Boston Marathon.
The nation paused for a moment of silence yesterday and then once again it was, “Play ball.”
Actually the Red Sox played Saturday to a packed park that included a big screen video tribute to first responders and victims and survivors, some of whom sat in the stands trying to put reality back in place where life was safe as a bunt and a cold beer at a baseball game.
They also listened to a loud-mouth foul-mouthed Red Sox icon named Papi Ortiz who defamed the memory of all that was good when he tossed out he first F-bomb of the season, declaring thet “This is our *&^%$ city.”
Boston belongs to everybody.
New Americans and old have a stake in what happens next on Boylston Street. We can build it up or blow it up. We can make it better or worse. We can rise or fall on retribution or true liberty. We can become more disciplined and smart or fall into the backwater of ignorance and revenge, rallying our bloodlust with shallow chants of “USAUSSA “ and a willingness to sign on to the madness militia that eats away at the promise that America has always offered to us all.
Sign me up for another tour with the Statue of Liberty.
The huddled masses need us more than the mobs gathered on Watertown street corners, high-fiving and fist-bumping, cheering cops who lose some of their own dignity by slapping each other on the back and cheering themselves while bombing victims still fight for life in hospitals and colleagues heal and the remains of one young cop is prepared for the first night of eternity in a cold spring grave.
Give me the immigrant dream, the American Dream that drew and draws countless seekers to our shores, some better than others, of course, who desire freedom and opportunity, something so many of our own ancestors desired as they landed at Ellis Island and elsewhere..
Give me the risk-takers, the hopeful wanderers who flee oppression and war in the lands of their birth. Give me those who want to make America better than we are. Give me allies, because, sad to say, we need help.
We are not America the beautiful.
We are a land where descendants of the immigrants of old are quick to turn against people with whom they actually have more in common than they do with the rich and powerful politicians they support. Descendants of Irish and Italian coal miners now scorn farm workers and meat packing factory laborers, instead choosing to applaud the political posers and business special interests that finance the political campaigners.
But, by hating the immigrants, they are hating themselves.
And we all risk going down together.
When I was a kid, a Russian leader named Nikita banged his shoe on the table and predicted that we Americans would destroy ourselves from within. You don’t need a bomb to help along the destruction. All you need is raw emotion and a willingness to arm yourself with enough reckless cruelty to trigger collateral damage throughout the land.
I mourn the loss of lives in Boston.
But I also mourn the loss of common decency and dignity that has often defined the best of this nation, this place where peasants always struggled yet held high their heads as they did the rough work that the privileged always shun.
Give me the huddled masses who came ashore with a simple, yet firm, courage that helped shape this place they now called home, this foreign land of opportunity where they took risks that paid off more often than not.
Not all of them were good citizens. Murderous mobsters found their way into our lives. Irish, Italian, Jewish and others – now Russians – defamed the honorable legacy of their own ancestors.
But they, like other terrorists, were in the minority.
So, too, are the fanatics of Islam.
Would you blame all Christianity for the acts of a fundamentalist Christian abortion clinic bomber?
Of course you wouldn’t.
So how can you attack all Islam for the gruesome actions of a few fundamentalist extremists who wage war against those with whom they disagree and hold accountable for perceived attacks - both real and imaginary - against their faith?
In good conscience, you can’t.
Cease and desist from blaming without evidence. Stop insulting all followers of Islam. Stop railing against immigrants – documented and otherwise - who one day might do more to improve this country, this America, than you and all your born-in-the-USA ancestors put together.
Beautiful and spacious skies exist for us all.
Our goal must forever be brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.