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Who Are We?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

“Why are we having all these people from sh*thole countries come here?”

That comment, attributed to President Trump, is our national (make that international) outrage de jour.  The president has denied speaking the specific term, while acknowledging using “tough” language in discussing immigration at a bipartisan White House meeting with congressional leaders.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says Mr. Trump is lying and that Trump, in fact, used the s-h-word repeatedly. Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Sonny Perdue (Arkansas and Georgia respectively) issued a statement noting they were there and they heard no such thing.

Is Durbin lying?

It is Washington. Everyone is likely lying.

But to rise above the level of mere spectators to our nation’s political and cultural decline, following as if watching a prime-time soap, we should consider these three things that matter about this matter: (1) Mr. Trump hardly coined that term and is not alone in recognizing that some countries are basket cases, (2) the people living in and then escaping from these “sh*th*le” countries (hereinafter SHC’s) are hardly to blame for their circumstances and are precisely the people who have always added to the greatness of America, and (3) our biggest concern ought to be preventing the USA from becoming another such country.

There are countries in pitiful political and economic plights — word choices admittedly not being equal. The problem, however, is with the president’s thinking toward those people trying to leave those countries to come here. There are a lot of wonderful people who live in SHC’s.

What makes a nation rotten enough to be so classified, in every single case, is stifling political and economic oppression. The living, breathing, dreaming, hoping people who burn to leave that, though it is everything they know, because they love freedom and demand opportunity over the enforced backwardness of tyranny, are pretty much already “American” and they would certainly not be out of place here.

Remember the Cuban man, Luis Grass, who turned a 1951 Chevy pick-up truck into a boat and attempted to cross the ocean to Miami in 2003? Our Coast Guard intercepted that boat and sent him and his family back to Cuba. In 2004, he attempted to cross again, this time in a 1959 Buick. Same result, except that for fear of returning the Grass family to Cuba, Costa Rica provided asylum. From there, he crossed through Mexico to the U.S. in 2005.

Today, he lives with his family in Miami and works on cars. His boss is quite glad to employ him. Asked if Luis was “as American as anybody else,” his boss replied, “Maybe more so.”

Rather than pontificate about sad, pathetic foreign lands, my biggest concern is always that we Americans — to continue the metaphor — not go down the toilet.

And a news story out of Baltimore suggests a level of civic dysfunction that would qualify as “flushable.”

In what sort of . . . place . . . does a hospital discharge a clearly mentally and physically incapacitated woman at night in freezing weather, dressed only in a hospital gown, and have several security guards wheel her to a bus stop in front of the hospital and dump her along with two bags of belongings?

Baltimore, Maryland.

To be precise.

The University of Maryland Medical Center discharged an unidentified female patient last Tuesday night. She was unable to speak and appeared to be in pain. Four bundled-up-against-the-weather security guards wheeled her to the bus stop bench and left her.

We know because Imamu Baraka happened to walk by and, cellphone in hand, filmed those guards and that patient. “So wait, y’all just going to leave this lady out here with no clothes on?” he is heard asking.

Baraka did more. Like a gentleman, he stayed with the woman and, somewhat absurdly, called an ambulance whilst sitting in front of a hospital.

Where the patient is now is not publicly known. But, the head of the University’s Medical Center has apologized, admitting they “own that failure” per the “demonstration of basic humanity and compassion as a patient was being discharged from our organization . . .” The hospital is now launching its own investigation.

Former Democratic legislator Heather Mizeur vowed on her Facebook post of the video, “I’m going to be on a holy reign of terror demanding some answers here.”

Let the questions and answers begin. Who are we? Are we becoming an SHC?

But, let us also realize that the answers to these questions are not entirely about the decisions of higher-ups at hospitals or the rules that politicians set. Those four security guards and others at this hospital played a role, too.

In a civilized society — as opposed to an abyss — people at all levels think for themselves and take responsibility for their actions. They have a conscience and use it.

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