This is in response to several questions posed by my composition teacher in a classroom discussion board.
Contrary to the treacherous beginning with the natives once living on land currently known as the United States of America, this country was built upon a noble foundation. It started as a melting pot for people seeking to escape oppression by their home country, but has since grown weary of continuing to welcome outsiders. It is unsettling to know that as families were looking to escape the harm of World War II, only 30% of respondents to a Gallup poll were in favor of allowing Jewish children to be taken into care in American homes (May par 8). After seventy-seven years of our societal fears being proven wrong, Americans are still overwhelmingly resistant to the idea of opening our doors for people seeking safety.
The true American heroes that don’t receive much-deserved recognition are people who have accepted immigrants and refugees into their homes, towns, schools, and workplaces. Today, there are Americans fighting for the rights of Syrian refugees, hoping that America will open its borders to these individuals looking to escape a war that “has killed over 220,000 people, half of whom are believed to be civilians” (“Quick facts” par 8) and displaced over 11 million total (“Quick facts” par 1). Luckily for Syrian refugees, there are people who are trying to change the attitudes surrounding their arrival into a new country, while also helping them find a welcoming place to become home. Milana Vayntrub is one of those people. Her name is not well-known, but her face probably is to Americans that don’t skip past commercials; she appears in ads for AT&T cellular service. Milana and her family left the Soviet Union in the 1980’s due to anti-Semitism, and was eventually allowed into America after first staying in Italy and Austria (Saul par 5). Since learning about the struggles Syrians refugees are facing, in order “to encourage people to contribute who would otherwise feel powerless” (Saul par 8), she has created an assistance charity called #CantDoNothing. It is reassuring to see that there are still Americans trying to help those in need, and the hard work they do demands our respect and gratitude.
Not all Americans can relate to stories of foreign hardship and the need to relocate; however, it is still possible to feel an obligation to uphold a basis on which our families were formed, or in some cases fed, clothed, and housed. In the Metro-Detroit area, automobile brand loyalty is representative of this family commitment. Since the rise of the three largest automobile manufacturers, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, the majority of the local job market has been connected to one of these three companies. Individuals don’t necessarily have to be working on the assembly line to be associated with these companies; they could be fixing production tools, designing parts, handling finances, or even maintaining consumer-owned vehicles. Brand loyalty in this global market isn’t as strong as it used to be, but there are still people whose grandfather installed dashboards, their aunt assembled wheel bearings, and they themselves have maintained safety testing data for General Motors. You probably won’t find a brand new Ford key in their ignition.
The environment we grow up in molds the values that make us the individuals we become. Franklin D. Roosevelt said it best: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” If we continue to be a society that believes in where we came from, and strives to maintain the values that we were founded by, then we must ignore the fear-mongers that tell us to lock our borders. Syrian refugees aren’t going to threaten our way of life any more than your neighbor driving a Chrysler is going to threaten your job at General Motors. This foundation of acceptance and sharing our freedom is what made America great, so let’s maintain it.
May, Kate Torgovnick. “Gallery: Why the stories of Ellis Island matter today.” TED Ideas. TED Conferences, 17 December 2015. Web. 9 February 2016.
“Quick facts: What you need to know about the Syria crisis.” MercyCorps. MercyCorps, 5 February 2016. Web. 9 February 2016.
Saul, Isaac. “Why It Matters That This Woman You See Almost Every Time You Watch TV Is A Refugee.” A Plus. A Plus, 3 February 2016. Web. 9 February 2016.