Our nation is witnessing a most painful and gut-wrenching attack on people who are seeking asylum at the southern border. Those who seek application are often women with children. Yet they are referred to as some of the worst criminals who have nothing but treachery in their hearts. If does not take a Rhodes Scholar to quickly draw the only conclusion that can be reached as to why these rhetorical attacks are taking place. Since the facts from our own government do not align with the hate-filled words, there is only pure partisanship left to be offered as to why this narrative continues.
President Trump manufactured an emergency at the southern border and requested states contribute 4,000 National Guard members to be used as props for his grand power-play. Former Governor Scott Walker, in an election year, strongly supported Trump’s efforts by referring to them as “aggressive actions” to secure the border. Walker stated that sending our troops to the border would help reduce drug trafficking. Unless those troops are stationed at the ports of entry, where most of the drugs come to our country, they are not meeting the expectation of Walker.
We know why Walker made the choice to send our state residents on such a highly publicized mission. It was to play to the same base of voters in Wisconsin who championed Trump’s original disingenuous claims about caravans and chaos galore. Walker cared more about playing to the fear factor in the election than about the facts at the border. It was painful on a moral and ethical level to see such disregard for those who sought asylum; simply assuming they did not meet the established criteria for entry to our nation. The lack of humanity was stunning to witness.
But now we have a new governor. And there needs to be a change in policy regarding our state troops at the border. The men and women who signed up from Abrams to Yorkville should not be used to further a false and dehumanizing operation from the White House. We need to value the reasons these state residents signed up for duty in the first place. It was not to demonize people fleeing violence and economic privation.
Governor Tony Evers is a quiet man with a thoughtful approach to the issues of the day. His attitude regarding our state troops, therefore, will not be one designed to rebuke Trump, or score a favorable headline in the press. Evers can act from the high ground. He can simply state that it should not be the mission of our guard to curtail or intimidate the vulnerable who seek a harbor from danger. Every small town church, and large city pulpit in this state has preached the message of reaching out to the stranger. Midwestern folks know the meaning of being ‘my brother’s keeper’.
Evers should not fear backlash for taking such a position in these political frothy times. either. In President Reagan’s final address to the nation, prior to his leaving the White House, the conservative Republican had these words to say about immigrants and the larger message of America.
The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the ‘shining city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.
I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.
And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was 8 years ago. But more than that: After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.
This is a time for leadership from Evers about the role our National Guard troops should play, and should not play when it comes to political theater. This is an easy call which will resonate well with the factually grounded in our state. It is time to bring our National Guard troops home to their family and friends.