These are interesting, unprecedented times, to be sure. After all, who could have guessed that someday we’d have a president who would put a temporary travel ban on Middle Easterners? Well, I mean other than that time that Obama did it. This president specifically put a ban on seven Muslim countries—unthinkable. Hold on, I forgot about that time that Obama identified those same countries when he removed them from the Visa Waiver Program. But this president wants to indiscriminately prevent all people from an hispanic country from coming here. What? Obama did that, too? Damn. At least he didn’t strand and detain people at the airport…oh, FFS, let’s just move on.
No, the real story here is the sheer volume of protests. I mean, for real. Dude’s been president for, like, a week, and I’m guessing that some people have just been bouncing from protest to protest. And there’s been something interesting about the protests, something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on until today.
“I have learned something this morning,” my friend wrote to me via Facebook Messenger early today. “White people love to protest.”
You know what? He’s right! I spent the day watching various news reports on CNN, Fox, and NBC, and I couldn’t find any image of a protest that was comprised of less than 95% white people (unless it was a staged photo with POC propped up behind the Democrat of your choice—although even that went waaaaay wrong a couple of times). As my friend said, it’s easy to go hold a sign at an airport. Marching, chanting, holding hands—none of that actually costs you anything.
But what about volunteering with an organization that houses refugees? or putting together meal packages at a food bank? or cooking food for families at the Ronald McDonald house? or building a Habitat for Humanity? (Four things that your author has actually done, by the way.) Nah. That might require effort. And there won’t be any news cameras present, or celebrities, or live streaming.
No, it’s easy to take the Saturday and Sunday afternoon that you have off (because you don’t work a menial/retail job that would require you to be present) and go hold a sign at the airport (making it harder for those of us who travel for a living and make the country actually run) because you’ll have so much to talk about at the water cooler on Monday. In other words, the people who are ensuring that you have a latte to drink before your protest or shuttle you to the protest in your Uber or serve you a delicious cocktail at the new hip bar in town have better things to do.
And, of course, in the course of your daily life you won’t run into a single refugee. Let me say that again. You can let every single refugee you want into this country because you’ll never. meet. one. of. them. You can feel safe in knowing that they’ll be stacked ten at a time into housing far away from you, using public transportation that you’ll never use, stressing the resources of social programs that you’ll never need, taking up tax dollars that you’ll use an exemption to avoid.
You, Mr. and Ms. Protester, are the epitome of White Privilege. You don’t even have any idea what an influx of Somalian refugees can do to a neighborhood, or a community, or a university. You haven’t been sexually assaulted. You don’t know what the forcing of 38,000 people into a city who won’t assimilate does to the people who live there. Nope, you’ll just keep on keeping on, resting safely in the knowledge that admitting one of these refugees (whatever they are) won’t affect your life one iota.
So if you give a shit about refugees, why don’t you go work in one of the established safe zones? Why don’t you make a donation to a cause that actually makes a difference instead of sharing your $10 ACLU donation to Facebook the moment you finish clicking “submit?”
Nah. Better to hold a sign. After all, people who hold signs go on to…hold many things.