The Universal Notebook: Safety (pins) in numbers

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The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom in June was regarded by many as a harbinger of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in November.

Both votes sent a strong anti-immigrant message. In response to the Brexit vote, many people in the UK started wearing safety pins as a symbol of solidarity with immigrants. In the wake of the presidential election, some Americans are following suit.

The safety pin is a silent protest against the anti-immigrant rhetoric that fueled the Trump campaign and emboldened bigots across the country. Just as in the UK after the Brexit vote, incidents of harassment and intimidation of immigrants and minorities spiked in the U.S. right after the election. In the first 10 days after the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented 867 such cases. Wearing a safety pin signifies that the wearer supports people who feel threatened by the incoming administration, among them immigrants, minorities, LGBT, women and Muslims. LeBron James is wearing a safety pin on his lapel in the cover photo as the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year.

Solidarity. There is safety in numbers. Wearing a safety pin is meant to signal to people who fear the intolerance the new administration might usher in that you sympathize, that they are “safe” with you. In a larger sense, it signifies a form of individual sanctuary.

Concerned about government mistreatment of immigrants, many cities have elected to become so-called sanctuary cities, pledging neither to prosecute undocumented immigrants simply for immigration violations nor to report immigration status to federal authorities. Sanctuary cities are a favorite hobbyhorse of the far right, but a policy of compassion toward good people seeking a better life is to be applauded. Immigration is a natural right. In 2015, a Pew Research Center poll found that 73 percent of Americans favor allowing illegal immigrants to stay.

Los Angeles became the first sanctuary city in 1979. Now there are more than 40, among them New York, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Portland, Oregon. The latest iteration of the sanctuary movement is sanctuary campuses, colleges that will not allow federal immigration police on campus without a warrant and refuse to share the immigration status of their students with authorities. To date, there are more than 200 sanctuary colleges.

In Maine, Colby College officials have pledged to protect immigrant students if the new administration makes good on a threat to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that grants deportation reprieves to young people whose parents may have brought them to the United States illegally. And there have been calls by students at both Bowdoin and Bates for those schools to declare themselves sanctuary colleges.

“We call on Bowdoin College to stand with other colleges and universities and investigate how to make Bowdoin a sanctuary campus that will protect our current and future students from intimidation, unfair investigation, and deportation,” reads the Bowdoin student petition. “We also call upon Bowdoin students, faculty, staff and administrators to stand with and advocate for the broader migrant and refugee community.”

There are also a growing number of sanctuary churches that have pledged to actually provide physical sanctuary to people in imminent danger of deportation.

Wearing a safety pin on one’s lapel may strike some as an empty gesture, but to others it is an act of conscience. Just how far people will be willing to go to keep immigrants from being harassed by the government remains to be seen. But I have heard many people say that if the government starts registering Muslims, we all must all register as Muslims.

A Trump presidency will almost certainly not be as good as his supporters think it will be and we can only hope it will not be as bad as many of us fear it will be. Just as those of us alarmed by Trump need to understand why he was elected, so those who voted for him need to understand that a great many Americans fear Trump will usher in a police state of walled borders and mass deportations. Standing up for immigrants is a first line of defense against such an abuse of power.

Sanctuary, of course, is also central to the Christmas story. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Joyous Kwanzaa. Happy Milad un Nabi. Happy holidays to all.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

  • poppypapa

    “Immigration is a natural right?” Wow, Mr. Globalist, I’m afraid you won’t find ‘universal’ support for that view. I have knowledge of several countries that take issue with you.

    Some of us, of course think being born is a natural right, and ‘inalienable,’ but we don’t expect to see you standing up for that one.

    Now take this passage:

    “Concerned about government mistreatment of immigrants, many cities have
    elected to become so-called sanctuary cities, pledging neither to
    prosecute undocumented immigrants simply for immigration violations nor
    to report immigration status to federal authorities.”

    One can imagine all sorts of ‘sanctuary’ arrangements, such as for drivers who have lost their licenses, drug dealers, and all sorts of other law breakers. Imagine how much better you’d feel if Brunswick police couldn’t ask for license, registration, and proof of insurance. Why are illegal (undocumented?) drivers any less sympathetic than illegal immigrants?

    • EdBeem

      Immigration Is a Natural Right

      Nativism is the arch-enemy of the freedom to travel

      Andrew Napolitano | January 31, 2013

      As President Obama and Congress grapple for prominence in the debate over immigration, both have lost sight of the true nature of the issue at hand.

      The issue the politicians and bureaucrats would rather avoid is the natural law. The natural law is a term used to refer to human rights that all persons possess by virtue of our humanity. These rights encompass areas of human behavior where individuals are sovereign and thus need no permission from the government before making choices in those areas. Truly, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, only God is sovereign—meaning He is the source of His own power.

      Having received freedom from our Creator and, in America, thanks to the values embraced by most of the Founding Fathers, individuals are sovereign with respect to our natural rights. St. Thomas Aquinas taught that our sovereignty is a part of our human nature, and our humanity is a gift from God. In 1776, Thomas Jefferson himself recognized personal sovereignty in the Declaration of Independence when he wrote about Nature’s God as the Creator and thus the originator of our inalienable human rights.

      The rights that Jefferson identified consist of the well-known litany of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. By the time his ideological soul mate James Madison was serving as the scrivener at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the list of natural rights had been expanded to include those now encompassed by the Bill of Rights. Yet again, the authors of the Constitution and its first 10 amendments recognized that the rights being insulated from government interference had their origin in a source other than the government.

      This view of the natural law is sweet to the heart and pleasing to the ear when politicians praise it at patriotic events, but it is also a bane to them when it restrains their exercise of the coercive powers of the government. Thus, since the freedom of speech, the development of personality, the right to worship or not to worship, the right to use technologically contemporary means for self-defense, the right to be left alone, and the right to own and use property all stem from our humanity, the government simply is without authority to regulate human behavior in these areas, no matter what powers it purports to give to itself and no matter what crises may occur. Among the rights in this category is the freedom of movement, which today is called the right to travel.

      The right to travel is an individual personal human right, long recognized under the natural law as immune from governmental interference. Of course, governments have been interfering with this right for millennia. The Romans restricted the travel of Jews; Parliament restricted the travel of serfs; Congress restricted the travel of slaves; and starting in the late 19th century, the federal government has restricted the travel of non-Americans who want to come here and even the travel of those already here. All of these abominable restrictions of the right to travel are based not on any culpability of individuals, but rather on membership in the groups to which persons have belonged from birth.

      The initial reasons for these immigration restrictions involved the different appearance and culture of those seeking to come here and the nativism of those running the government here. Somehow, the people who ran the government believed that they who were born here were superior persons and more worthy of American-style freedoms than those who sought to come here. This extols nativism.

      Nativism is the arch-enemy of the freedom to travel, as its adherents believe they can use the coercive power of the government to impair the freedom of travel of persons who are unwanted not because of personal behavior, but solely on the basis of where they were born. Nativism teaches that we lack natural rights and enjoy only those rights the government permits us to exercise.

      Yet, the freedom to travel is a fundamental natural right. This is not a novel view. In addition to Aquinas and Jefferson, it has been embraced by St. Augustine, John Locke, Thomas Paine, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Pope John Paul II and Justice Clarence Thomas. Our fundamental human rights are not conditioned or even conditionable on the laws or traditions of the place where our mothers were physically located when we were born. They are not attenuated because our mothers were not in the United States at the moment of our births. Stated differently, we all possess natural rights, no more and no less than any others. All humans have the full panoply of freedom of choice in areas of personal behavior protected from governmental interference by the natural law, no matter where they were born.

      Americans are not possessed of more natural rights than non-Americans; rather, we enjoy more opportunities to exercise those rights because the government is theoretically restrained by the Constitution, which explicitly recognizes the natural law. That recognition is articulated in the Ninth Amendment, which declares that the enumeration of certain rights in the Constitution shall not be used by the government as an excuse to deny or disparage other unnamed and unnamable rights retained by the people.

      So, if I want to invite my cousins from Florence, Italy, to come here and live in my house and work on my farm in New Jersey, or if a multinational corporation wants the best engineers from India to work in its labs in Texas, or if my neighbor wants a friend of a friend from Mexico City to come here to work in his shop, we have the natural right to ask, they have the natural right to come here, and the government has no moral right to interfere with any of these freely made decisions.

      If the government can restrain the freedom to travel on the basis of an immutable characteristic of birth, there is no limit to the restraints it can impose.

      • poppypapa

        So much for a word limit on DIsqus posts, and Eddie’s refusal to respond to my comments.

        I’ll be watching for the sign to go up in his front yard saying his domicile is a “Sanctuary House.”

  • poppypapa

    Note Eddie’s subtle, but telling and preferential manipulation of language meaning: enforcing immigration law becomes “government mistreatment of immigrants.”

    I wonder if he sees all enforcement of laws on the books as ‘government mistreatment’ of any suspect, no matter the crime. Why pulling one over for a vehicle code violation, or a driving infraction, or whatever; is that mistreatment in his eyes?

    And if ‘immigration is a natural right,’ is taking up residence on someone else’s property a human right as well?

  • Charles Martel

    Wow, safety pins. I can’t wrap deplorable my head around that one.

    The political scientist, LeBron James who’s net worth is $311m, and the Miami Heat protested the Trayvon Martin shooting by wearing hoodies and also supports Colin Kaepernick. How’d that work out?

    The Pew Research Center (as is Snopes) is full of liberals and has questionable methodologies.

    “The SPLC is a shamelessly hypocritical leftist attack machine funded by radical speculator George Soros and a rogue’s gallery of rich people and established philanthropies that want to fundamentally transform America. The fabulously wealthy 501(c)(3) nonprofit has an astounding one third of a billion dollars ($338 million) in assets, as well as investments in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, two offshore tax havens the Left loves to attack (but only when non-leftists stash cash there).”

    “The Center characterizes all opposition to immigration and open borders as symptomatic of hate and all political expression of those views to be hate speech. In other words, if you disagree with founder Morris Dees and his minions you are evil and worthy of public condemnation. It may take some intellectual toughness to insist that the nation has the right to decide who may or may not cross its borders, but it’s not hate.” -Matthew Vadum

    So, that leaves Beem’s PC love for Muslims and the reality from the so-called religion of peace:

    – “Allah will throw fear into the hearts of the disbelievers, and smite their necks and fingers.” Qur’an 8:12
    – “Don’t let the disbelievers think they can escape. They are your enemy and the enemy of Allah.” 8:59-60
    – “Fight disbelievers who are near you, and let them see the harshness in you.” 9:123
    – “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them.” 9:5
    – “Don’t be friends with disbelievers. They are your and Allah’s enemy.” 60:1

    Never mind countering with quotes from the Bible. Its passages of violence were much fewer and descriptive of historical events. Islam’s violent passages have been prescriptive (there are at least 522 more) for 1,400 years.

    When will you and “The Forecaster” realize that Hillary lost and Trump won?

    Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all! (Sorry, I might reluctantly go with the Joyous Kwanza, but not the Happy Mawlid un Nabi based on Mohammed’s Sunna.

  • funfundvierzig

    Almost comically, safety pinheads on the far left refuse to see the big picture and the tragic consequences of wide-open borders and unbridled migration.

    As Chancellor Merkel has belatedly discovered her maternal welcoming of over a million Muslim migrants has culturally and lethally degraded the country of Germany. Why would you unquestioningly pull in and feed and lodge those who zealously embrace a religion that demands the extermination of the very people, innocent women, men and children of the generous host country?


    • EdBeem

      You would have loved Germany in the 1930s.

      • funfundvierzig

        You would have loved Stalinist Soviet Union in the 1930’s. For that matter, you must love Venezuela in 2016.


        • EdBeem

          First, you conservatives really have to get over the I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I responses. Not clever. It’s like Trump saying, “You’re the puppet.” Second, I would have been thrown out of the Soviet Union in 1928 along with Trotsky. I would have worked against Stalin just as I will work against Putintrump.

          • funfundvierzig

            Thank you for your open and honest disclosure that you identify with Trotsky. As a Trotskyist you have shown readers your orthodox Marxism for some years, but recently surprised us with your contempt for the proletariat who dared to vote against your incorrigibly corrupt Presidential candidate.


    • Charles Martel

      A sixties radical was fond of saying, “The issue is never the issue, the issue is always the revolution. Pick any agenda, gay rights, civil rights, the environment, immigration. For the Left, the issue is only relevant if it advances their agenda of accumulating power and wealth to the exclusion of everyone else. Refugee resettlement is one of their issues.”

  • Real cool guy

    I hope Maine becomes known as a sanctuary state.

    I look forward to the religious Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths arriving here in large numbers over a short period of time because of war and economic strife.

    I especially hope they bring their regional intolerance/ignorance towards abortion, gays, and women with them.

    I also hope they are allowed to vote as soon as they arrive.