APTOPIX Trump Russia Probe (copy)

Former special counsel Robert Mueller gave his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Special Counsel Mueller’s testimony before two congressional committees last week starkly described Russian interference in the American 2016 elections. Wikileaks released Democratic Party emails stolen by Russian government hackers. Mueller noted there were signs of Russian targeting of state voting systems, with the expectation that the American public would lose confidence in its ballot. Mueller put a huge number on the fake Facebook groups and messages as the Russians flooded social media with false news reports and incendiary political ads designed to boost Trump’s campaign.

One of the great American stories is its immigrant tradition. America, the beacon of freedom. Americans take pride in the Statue of Liberty and the poem by Emma Lazarus—a symbol recognized throughout the world. Remember the student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in June 1989 made their own Statue of Liberty to represent their hopes and dreams.

Since the founding of America, its leaders were aware of its diversity. That’s why America’s motto is e pluribus unum. The Constitution was written with diversity in mind. The 2004 book “The Island at the Center of the World” by Russell Shorto describes the religious, racial and ethnic diversity that was already in place in the 17th century Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. Diversity has been here all the time.

However, our diversity has not always been honored. Ask Japanese-Americans interned during WWII; ask the Chinese who built America’s railroads and faced the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was not changed until well into the 20th century. Ask the Greeks and Italians who faced discrimination in more recent times. The list is long and domestic forces are making it longer.

There has been much immigration legislation submitted in the U.S. Congress in the last two decades, but little has gathered the necessary bipartisan consensus needed to pass. As time passes anti-immigrant rhetoric has become more vicious. Current U.S. leaders justify deporting perhaps millions of people by describing Hispanics here illegally as rapists, murderers, and gang members. Yet the rhetoric often doesn’t match the mothers, husbands, and grandparents who are being stigmatized and deported. The Russians see an opportunity to distract America, a sprawling, diverse nation with a long history of ethnic assimilation, from finding creative solutions for a strong immigration regime and secure borders.

Much of what America has done in the last two years follows the path of dehumanizing immigrants and attacking them with uncaring cruelty. The Trump administration has verbally obliterated the difference between legal asylum seekers and random border-crossers. People are denied long-accepted rights; U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents put people of all ages in cages and unsanitary, even unhealthy situations. These conditions bring to mind the fact that Anne Frank didn’t die in the gas chambers; she died of typhus in an overcrowded concentration camp. Leaders of any country play a major role in setting the tone, defining the hopes, and encouraging basic human decency for their societies. This is particularly true in the United States, a nation that takes pride in the assertion, “...all men are created equal ... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” The Mueller Report suggests Russians want to undermine the American dream. Today internal forces awaken fears with derogatory stereotypes, and Russia stokes the flames.

Dr. King stirred the soul talking about his dream for a diverse nation. As we approach another November election, are there any who have a different hope than the Charlottesville chant, “Jews will not replace us?” Any who lift their eyes rather than bow their head? Perhaps in the quiet of the polling booth, some will dream the dream of hope. Otherwise the Russians have a plan for us.

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David Reuther, a retired foreign service officer, chairs the Culpeper Democratic Committee. These are his personal observations.