J.F.K would be proud and ashamed.
Ismaïl Omar Guelleh is the current President of Djibouti, in office since 1999. He is dirty.
When ever he has run for re-election his opponents have ended up in jail. He has his countries constitution changed (twice) to extend term limits. Virtually every international human rights organization says he is an illegally elected president, has a poor history of human rights and bends over backwards to allow the governments of other countries have incredible financial interests in Djibouti.
On 5/5/17 a couple dozen people gathered in Lewiston, Maine at a park named after a Kennedy (J.F.) to protest what is happening in Djibouti.
The Lewiston Sun Journal (a newspaper I work for as the marketing director) used Facebook Live to broadcast the protest. (Kennedy Park is across the street from the paper’s office).
It didn’t take long for the hate to take shape and for the deplorables to come out. The hate and lack of understanding that we as a society have decided is acceptable and tolerable is disgusting. When Presidents (Trump), Governors (Maine’s Lepage), and Mayors (Lewiston’ MacDonald)go to great lengths to call out refugees, this provides fire and opportunity for the hate to flow.
Can’t say as though I am surprised. Those who have settled in Lewiston from the African continent are regularly demonized, ridiculed and called every hateful name you can think of.
This type of peaceful protest would likely lead to jail (or worse) in Djibouti or many other countries in the area.
There are far too few places in the world where people from another continent can peacefully protest what is happening in their homeland without police or government interference.
Over the last 16 years about 6,000 (+) refugees have come to Lewiston from Africa. They have come from Somali, Djibouti, Ethiopia.
While the social media comments about this protest were largely negative and hateful. Some people took the time to clarify and provide some context. Some even sharing information about what is happening in Djibouti, sharing some links and providing very helpful contest.
The more hateful comments suggest “they go home”, “go back to third world dumpster”, “should be the law that you speak English” and this one.
As a couple people pointed out, those with the most hateful comments hardly had what one would consider a good grasp of basic grammar and spelling. Suggesting the protesters learn English was, well, ironic. Take a gander at social media pages of those with the most hatred and some common themes emerge-confederate flags and a love for President Trump.
There are days, many days where I wonder if as a nation progress toward understanding and equality has come to a standstill. Days where I have honestly lost hope and faith in people to just be good. My hopes of extraordinary people and ideas have gone by the wayside and I am simply looking for a little bit of good.