As a newly arrived immigrant from Syria in the late ’80s, I took English as a Second Language classes in middle school. One of our teachers, Mrs. Wolf, would often tell us that America is a melting pot of people, where everyone has the same right to live in peace and pursue prosperity and happiness.
In graduate school, where I studied U.S. foreign policy, a professor stressed that what made the United States more powerful than a rising China was not military or economic might, but its character as a nation. It was, he lectured, the shared commitment to values and ideals that led to our clout.
Then I became a U.S. diplomat, a job in which reverence for and defense of these values were a necessary part of my day-to-day work. In negotiations with foreign counterparts, often representatives of authoritarian regimes, it was clear to all that I was representing not only the American people, but the principles of democracy and liberties that we cherish.
From awestruck child arriving in this great country to adult who had the privilege of representing it abroad, it was drilled into me, in both words and deeds: America is as much an idea as it is a place.
On the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s travel ban ― and the tumultuous, racist, xenophobic leadership we’ve seen since ― it’s clear that this idea, a pluralistic society driven by equality, is under considerable threat.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST