In a Wednesday Facebook essay, longtime newsman Dan Rather revealed his “pain” in the toxicity of the conversations around immigration and immigration reform.
“I see the scapegoating of the ‘other,'” Rather said. “And I recognize the dark echoes of history.”
He explained that such a complicated issue is being turned into “irresponsible sloganeering and applause lines to feed a fervent mob.”
“This is the opposite of leadership, it is demagoguery,” he said. The comments came just moments after Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein made the same claim of “demagoguery” and urged the media to look into the way former Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) and President Donald Trump are using the same language and tactics to propel their far-right agenda.
“The fires of bigotry can burn bright and they can do great damage,” Rather cautioned. “But in the end our national destiny has been to follow a path towards justice, despite the detours.”
He pledged to continue speaking out on the issue and urge Americans to look at what unites the country. Quoting his book What Unites Us, Rather reminded his followers that the vast majority of Americans comes from “somewhere else” while a few generations were forcibly removed and sent to other U.S. land or brought to the country against their will.
“Not many of us can trace our arrival back a few hundred years, let alone millennia,” Rather said. “But even the ancestors of the Native Americans are believed to have come across a land bridge from Asia — a reminder that we are a species of migrations, and always have been. Of course, not all migrations have been voluntary; many are here because their ancestors were ripped from their homelands in Africa and carried across the ocean in bondage.”
For those who look, speak or pray differently, the term “America” is used as a weapon, according to Rather. All the while, “one of the noblest ideals of our country is that anybody from anywhere can be an American.” He called it the “battle between our demons and angels for the soul of the United States.”
He closed with a call to action for Americans to “find a way to defeat the forces of intolerance.” He explained that if Americans are able to do it, the country “will emerge a better, stronger nation.”
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