Fight Oppression with Action, Not Words

ram-logoThis past week, President Donald Trump made an executive order which prohibits the entrance of citizens from seven Middle Eastern, majority-Muslim, countries for the next 90 days. It also suspends the admission of refugees for the next 120 days, but gives preferential treatment to Christians under persecution in the Middle East. According to the United Nations report, this executive order will immediately affect around 20,000 refugees from around the world.

Hours after the ban, several citizens and refugees were stopped at airports and others were blocked and forced to return overseas. Stories of chaos occurring at these airports flooded news outlets. Families planning to make new lives for themselves in America were sent back on planes, some green card holders were aggressively patted down and handcuffed in customs, and some students of American universities were detained and even put back on flights. One woman facing deportation even went so far as to attempt suicide.

At times like these, when Fordham students and other Americans are being flooded with disturbing and confusing news, it may be tempting to escape these harsh realities and ignore the news reports reports. Social ignorance becomes commonplace, especially when the news may not seem to“directly” affect the reader.

For example, the Women’s March, characterized as the largest protest in American history, was an event which dealt with issues directly affecting at least of half our population. At least 3.33 million protesters were reported to have attended the American Women’s Marches according to the work of Erica Chenoweth at the University of Denver and Jeremy Pressman at the University of Connecticut.

It is safe to say that protest efforts to support those affected by the immigration executive order have not been nearly as popular as the women’s march. While many people have used their social media platforms to react to the executive order, the amount of people actually going out and protesting pales in comparison to the crowds drawn by the women’s marches.

Since this ban seems like it does not affect many of us directly, it is easy to think that we should sit back and let others take the reigns. The email sent by Reverend Joseph M. McShane S.J. president of the university, this past Saturday may seem like enough action for many of us.

Despite this temptation, we at the The Fordham Ram encourage students to be more civically minded. To be civically minded is to view yourself as member of a larger social fabric. Those who are civically minded consider all social problems to be their own problems. To be civically minded is not just to be opinionated; rather, it is to recognize the needs of humanity as a whole and, more importantly, to act in order to help those needs be met.

The Fordham community should not miss this opportunity to acknowledge that this ban affects all of us and take a step towards becoming more civically minded. We are one Fordham community, and if one part is directly affected, we are all directly affected.

We must take on the responsibility to be active and never silent. Throughout our history, citizens like ourselves have been faced with a choice between the two. According to Elie Wiesel, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” To be silent now, in a time such as this, is as deadly a time as ever.

For Fordham students, these two steps are a part of our mission as a Jesuit community. According to Father James Martin, S.J., “refusing the one in need because you want to protect yourself, especially when the other is in desperate need and obvious danger, is not what Christianity is about. It’s about the opposite. It’s about helping the stranger, even if it carries some risk.” As a Jesuit university, it is on us Fordham students to help the stranger. It is on us to follow the Jesuit values and foster a more civically minded community. This ban affects all of us, and silence will only hurt all of us. This is the only way to truly be “men and women for others.”

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