Being indignant is very, very easy at this point. I know, because my reflex has become to start spouting facts at my phone, when I wake up to see “Breaking News” splashed across my feed or crawl. This time, it was peeling my eyelids open to see that #45 has started misinterpreting the 14th Amendment in the same way that he misunderstands just about every other piece of information pertinent to his position. He’s a xenophobic, racist, nationalist, and the need to toss back checks on the falsities of his reality seem to be as instinctive as that little bit of throw-up-in-your-mouth that occurs every time you’re reminded that anyone, ever, slept with this man.
However, that the 14th Amendment protects the rights of Trump’s own kids isn’t going to make a dent. He’ll have it start retroactive to just 9/11, or the date he took office, or the first of the year. Nothing will apply to him. He’ll say he was only aiming it at non-citizen immigrants, and then non-residents, and then that the DE-legitimization only applied to those who were unlucky enough to be born to *two* undocumented parents.
It isn’t going to matter that the citizenship of the American-born child of Chinese immigrants was upheld, by the Supreme Court. It isn’t going to matter that this is how most countries in the Western Hemisphere figure out citizenship, including our neighbor to the north. It isn’t going to matter that there is a consensus among constitutional scholars (*real* constitutional scholars) that there is no way he can undo this policy with an executive order. I know this, I shouldn’t be surprised by this.
No, what I noticed is that when my “offended historian” jumped up, I noticed that my “terrified mom” backed down. My husband’s parents are immigrants. They came over a while back, so there weren’t nearly the kind of restrictions on immigration faced by Latinos now, but my husband is the first generation born here. Yes, his parents became citizens, and yes, my husbands grandparents came to live here, too. But, is my husband’s citizenship at risk? Does that mean my kids’ citizenship is at risk as well? I mean, my family has been here for a good long while, but at what point has it been “long enough?” Trump’s lineage is probably where the line will get drawn, but I assume it isn’t going to require one parent to have Narragansett or Delaware ties.
I think both of these reactions are useful, though. The “how will this impact me, and mine” is sometimes kicked under the rug because it can be such a saddening thought process. Watching our nation’s way of life die, while people cheer, is heartbreaking. It’s easier, and feels better, to just stay angry.
Don’t let them steal your other emotions, though. That softness, that empathy…that’s the part that they are missing. The loss of that is what lets them lock kids in cages, away from their parents. This is what sends over 5,000 troops to our southern border, to greet refugees. The refusal to stay in touch with the parts of their souls that still feel pain is what let them confirm Kavanaugh.
Anger is good. Righteous anger is better. Action borne out of righteous anger and compassion is best.