“Look into your own heart, discover what it is that gives you pain and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else.” (Karen Armstrong)
Why do we tolerate bullies and bullying? The moment we see one person abusing or belittling another we should be stepping in. Are we just so accustomed to the bullying behaviors of a former president and his cult following that we shrug our shoulders and say, “what are you gonna do?”?
What kind of example are we setting for young people?
This week, the world saw astonishingly cruel public bullying toward a group of migrants by Florida governor and presidential wannabe Ron DeSantis. The Venezuelan families were in Texas, in the process of going through proper channels to seek asylum in America. In a cheap and sadistic play for attention, DeSantis used Florida taxpayer money to pick up migrant families in San Antonio and fly them in two chartered jets to Martha’s Vineyard. There, he essentially dumped them for the local residents and municipality to deal with. He sent a videographer along to record the Northern outrage that he was sure would ensue. DeSantis claimed he was “protecting” Florida by flying the migrant families to Massachusetts. He did not elaborate on how kidnapping people in Texas protects Florida.
Is kidnapping too strong a word? How about human trafficking? Certainly coercion. The migrants said they were told they were being flown to Boston, where they were promised jobs and months of free housing.
DeSantis’s stunt isn’t even original. The idea of dumping migrants in Martha’s Vineyard was suggested in July by FOX News’s resident bully, Tucker Carlson. Plus, DeSantis is purloining a page from the playbook of his buddy, Texas governor Greg Abbott, who has for many months been busing immigrants from Texas to cities such as New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Just this week, Abbott transported about 100 migrants to Vice President Kamala Harris’ doorstep in D.C. If you watch these governors’ smug faces on the news, it’s clear they think they’re pretty cute. About as cute as 12-year-old boys tearing the wings off flies.
I ask again, what kind of example are we setting for young people?
Perhaps, though, the response of the residents of Martha’s Vineyard will make a more positive and lasting impression. According to the Boston Globe, within about 20 minutes, the good people of that island community were mobilized and averting the deliberately-planned crisis. They assembled Spanish speakers as translators, distributed snacks and water, and arranged for overnight shelter at a local church, where later, volunteers delivered dinner and breakfast. By the next morning, individuals and local businesses were on hand with food, clothing, and personal essentials. Local legal services have already stepped in to provide help with representation and long-distance communications.
One local resident stated: ″We love that they’re here, and I guess what we’re doing is making a political statement back at Ron DeSantis…. we’re going to show people they’re welcome in this community.”
The migrants have since been moved from Martha’s Vineyard to a military base on Cape Cod, where they have broader access to food, shelter, and services.
I know immigration is a problem, and one with no easy solution. And maybe these stunts will initiate some needed action. But under no circumstances can it ever be okay for brutes like these governors to treat other human beings as if they were less than human.
But that’s what bullies do.
And we mustn’t let them get away with it. I hope on November 8 the voters of Florida and Texas will choose wisely . . . and compassionately.
I think the Globe said it well: “There is surely a special place in hell reserved for those who treat immigrants as so much refuse to be deposited without notice for no other reason than to cause chaos and generate headlines.”
“The true essence of humankind is kindness. There are other qualities which come from education or knowledge, but it is essential, if one wishes to be a genuine human being and impart satisfying meaning to one’s existence, to have a good heart.” (The Dalai Lama)