November Cheers & Jeers highlights compassion at local level, lack of at national

It’s the season of giving thanks and we have an abundance of cheers to hand out in this November Cheers & Jeers column.

First, a cheers to now-retired Camas soccer coach Roland Minder, who left his coaching position after 24 years on a high note this month, with his girls team placing second at the state championships.

Our second round of cheers go out to several Camas-Washougal area folks who have shown goodwill toward man (and woman) recently — hosting Thanksgiving dinners for community members in need (cheers to you, Rhonda Ackman); collecting donations for victims of the deadly wildfires in northern California (one cheers to donation organizer Laura McGuire, of Camas, and another to Oregon truck driver Justin Pratt, who drove those donations to California); raising money and awareness for cancer prevention (cheers to the “No Shave November” men who work for the city of Washougal, including the City Manager David Scott and accounting specialist Lee Bowles); and providing relief to victims of Hurricane Florence (cheers to volunteer firefighter-EMT Mick Kratovil of Skamania.)

The world is a better place when we extend kindness and compassion to people who are less fortunate — which brings us to this month’s jeers.

Our November jeers goes out to anyone who can still support President Trump and his administration, along with the Republican legislative leaders, after witnessing our nation’s inhumane response to the “migrant caravan” at our southern border.

Jeers to you if you are silent on this issue; if you continue to support political leaders who either ordered it or did nothing to stop it; if you still believe the lies about the families in this migrant caravan after seeing photographic and video evidence to the contrary; or if you think this is just our president “being tough” on illegal immigration.

There is absolutely nothing illegal about people applying for asylum at our nation’s borders. The U.S. signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, which states our country is required to protect people who enter the U.S. with “a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

We know the majority of people in this migrant caravan are coming from places like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in a desperate attempt to escape the type of poverty, corruption and gang violence that prompts a mother to carry her squirming, uncomfortable 6-month-old in her arms for weeks, walking in the hot sun, sleeping on the ground and often going without food or water — all in the hope of being shown an ounce of compassion from a country that has long billed itself as the world’s protector and a place of refuge for the planet’s “tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

We also know Trump and company have been using the migrant caravan as another prop in their mass manipulation for months, trying to scare people into believing these tired mothers and their toddlers somehow threaten the world’s richest country.

Less than a week before the midterm election, Trump told his fervent supporters: “If you don’t want America to be overrun by masses of illegal aliens and giant caravans, you’d better vote Republican.”

He has called the migrants criminals, gang members and “invaders,” warning these families — who aren’t exactly watching Fox News or checking their Twitter feed — that “our military is waiting for you.”

For a nation filled with people who regularly show compassion in their own communities, it seems unfathomable that so many still support leaders who, instead of greeting some of the world’s most desperate people with fresh water and a decent meal, ordered our border patrol to lob tear gas at them and our military to use deadly force “if necessary.”

If you want to learn more about the migrants in the caravan, Time magazine’s Nov. 13 “An Intimate Look at Life Inside the Migrant Caravan” (time.com/longform/migrant-caravan-mexico) by journalist Alice Driver, with photos by Jerome Sessini-Magnum, is a great start. Another good site is widerimage.reuters.com/photographer/kim-kyung-hoon, which showcases photos by Reuters photographer Kim Kyung Hoon, who captured the now iconic image of a mother and her babies fleeing tear gas at our border.

During this season of “peace on Earth, goodwill toward man” we must question how being cruel and petty in the face of desperation makes us “great again.”