Do we really live in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Or is America the land of the bigoted and the home of the scared?
During Monday's Republican South Carolina debate, moderator Juan Williams asked Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney about immigration, "Your father was born in Mexico ..." but before he could finish the question, the audience erupted in boos.
Williams' question referenced recent news that Romney's great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, fled with other Mormons to Mexico in order to escape persecution. Settling there, Romney's father, George, was born in Colonia Dublan (which is roughly 175 miles south of the border). Later, they fled out of Mexico to escape the Mexican Revolution and settled in Detroit, where Mitt was eventually born.
Why is this such an issue? Are we so polarized in our thinking that the tag 'Made in the U.S.A.' must apply to our presidential nominees, too? I understand why a candidate has to be born in the United States in order to become president, and I have no problem with that. However, where the issue becomes murky, for me, is why it matters where a candidate's parents originated?
This was also an issue in 2008. Then Senator Barack Obama was subjected to such a rigorous media washing of his heritage because his father is Muslim and a native Kenyan. This charade eventually became so ridiculous that our very own president (thanks to Donald Trump) was forced to hold a press conference to confirm his status as a U.S. citizen.
Throughout this campaign, the GOP candidates have shown problems with racial tolerance. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said in the Iowa Caucas, "I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money and provide for themselves and their families." What Mr. Santorum conveniently forgot was that whites in Iowa on welfare outnumber the African-American count by an 11-to-1 ratio. And, the worst part was that the crowd, mostly whites, blankly nodded as if they were in agreement with this racist slight.
Then there's the newsletter controversy surrounding Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas).
On the heels of the holiday celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., it was absolutely appalling to witness the crowd at the GOP debate booing in hatred. What difference does it make if Mitt Romney's father was born in Mexico? Is the fear of all things non-American that crippling? Are we, as a culture, that uneducated when it comes to other cultures?
By this logic, I can't run for president because my great-great grandfather was born in France and my great-great grandmother was born in Spain.
When does the intolerance stop?
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