From The Nation
President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey
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Donald Trump is famously ignorant with regard to American history, but you would have thought that he would at least get the basics of Thanksgiving.
Trump greeted a holiday that celebrates the story of men, women, and children seeking refuge from harsh conditions in their native land by announcing that he was ending a humanitarian program that allowed entry to this country to men, women, and children seeking refuge from harsh conditions in their native land.
Since 2010, roughly 60,000 Haitians who fled an island nation ravaged by earthquakes and poverty have been afforded Temporary Protected Status, allowing them to live and work in the United States. On Monday, around the same time that the president was walking through the motions of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey named Drumstick, Trump's White House announced that the refugees must leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation.
"The decision set off immediate dismay among Haitian communities in South Florida, New York, and beyond, and was a signal to other foreigners with temporary protections that they, too, could soon be asked to leave," noted The New York Times, which went on to point out that "Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is still struggling to recover from the earthquake and relies heavily on money its expatriates send to relatives back home. The Haitian government had asked the Trump administration to extend the protected status."
The White House response to that request for compassion was "no" -- as it has been for so many pleas on behalf of refugees, migrants, and immigrants during Trump's first year in office.
We have come to expect the worst from Donald Trump. But when he mixes his worst with the symbolism of a holiday that is supposed to bring out the best in people, the president's cruelty seems all the more stark and unrelenting.
We should be conscious of this at all times.
But it is especially valid to note Trump's breaking of the faith at Thanksgiving because, of course, the Pilgrims were migrants seeking refuge from intolerance, violence, and hardship. They were welcomed by indigenous peoples. And they shaped an American story of what President Barack Obama referred to as "inherent selflessness and common goodness."
"In the same spirit of togetherness and thanksgiving that inspired the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, we pay tribute to people of every background and belief who contribute in their own unique ways to our country's story," Obama said in one of the last of his Thanksgiving proclamations. "Each of us brings our own traditions, cultures and recipes to this quintessential American holiday -- whether around dinner tables, in soup kitchens or at home cheering on our favorite sports teams -- but we are all united in appreciation of the bounty of our nation. Let us express our gratitude by welcoming others to our celebrations and recognize those who volunteer today to ensure a dinner is possible for those who might have gone without. Together, we can secure our founding ideals as the birthright of all future generations of Americans."
For such statements, Obama was attacked by conservatives for infusing his proclamations with "
What the proto-Trumpian Obama critics failed to recognize was that Thanksgiving is a holiday for "multicultural pieties" -- for embracing diversity, for sharing our prosperity, for recalling the history of welcoming the stranger. And for carrying those legacies forward in what President George W. Bush once described as "a free, faithful, and fair-minded land."
Forty years ago, President Gerald Ford proclaimed, "Let us join in giving thanks for our cultural pluralism. Let us celebrate our diversity and the great strengths that have come from sharing our traditions, our ideas, our resources, our hopes and our dreams. Let us be grateful that for 200 years our people have been dedicated to fulfilling the democratic ideal -- dedicated to securing 'liberty and justice for all.'"