Statue of Liberty Under Suicide Watch
Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and Gustave Eiffel must be turning in their graves these days. Bartholdi designed and Eiffel built the Statue of Liberty in 1886 as France’s gift to the United States and, since then, it has become the welcoming sight for millions of immigrants arriving in the land of freedom—in a nation of immigrants.
I’m an immigrant from Germany, even though I immigrated directly to Puerto Rico—and even the mother of today’s POTUS is an immigrant: Mary Anne MacLeod boarded the S.S. Transylvania in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 1929.
But Mr. Trump the President continues much the way Mr. Trump the businessman did: hyperbolic exaggerations and lies where suitable; favoring personal interests and of course, attacking anyone with a different opinion instead of conducting an educated debate.
There is no surprise in that the mostly Muslim countries where Trump Enterprises has business interests have been excluded from the new list of countries with visitation restrictions. I’m not saying they should have been included, but the Executive Order with visitation restrictions comes under the headline of a war against terrorism and excludes countries where actual terrorists came from. And the first casualties of the ban are the weakest of the weak, people on the run from their home countries. As The Economist states: “In the past 40 years there has not been a single fatal terrorist attack in America carried out by anyone belonging to the seven nationalities targeted by the order.”
Much of this was visible during Trump’s electoral campaign; much of it could have been seen as soon as the president-elect started having meetings where the very children running his business now, participate for no reason other than expanding the company’s network. The Washington Post has started a continuing article showing exactly when and how the U.S. president is lying. In the best case, as some German media suggest, he is just not informed. In the worst case, there is someone at the White House, equipped with nuclear rocket codes and the world’s largest military, who is sufficiently thin-skinned and narcissistic, to drive the world into a war over who is right in any given argument. As the editor in chief of German “Handelsblatt” called him: “an incarnate Molotov-cocktail thrown into the White House.”
In the 11 years since I immigrated to Puerto Rico, never once has anybody questioned me about my religion or made my religion a criteria for doing business or for opening the doors to their houses. Clearly, our island has problems in many areas. But even as an immigrant, I was allowed to live freely and do as I please. And I even made friends.
In light of the extremism being displayed now, as the policy of the new USA, I’m somehow glad that I can’t even imagine how this would bide with Puerto Ricans. Reading about the daily barbarities from the [U.S.] mainland convinced me that Puerto Rico has to reflect more on its own strengths and advantages than ever before. How can we make being different an advantage? What is our unique selling proposition?
I am glad that Gov. Ricardo Rosselló repudiated the immigration ban, that he found clear words about it, instead of more of the typical political blah blah. Kudos! That’s what we need on all issues: the candor to have an opinion, debate and change it, if necessary. And all without the need to destroy an opponent. Without exaggeration, without politiquería, just saying things as they are and acting upon it. Combine that with proactively selling Puerto Rico’s advantages and we’ll be an irresistible location for life and business without even having to try to compete with cheap manufacturing locations around the world. Let’s make an effort to stress how welcoming we are, how great it is to live all year long in summer and what a great and educated workforce we have. People will want to stay voluntarily, like I did, and do business here. In other words, we need to do pretty much the opposite of everything President Trump is doing for our island to bloom again. Given the USA’s new direction, we could probably even get a bargain deal for the Statue of Liberty and just bring it down to San Juan.