At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) today, President Trump recited “The Snake” poem during the immigration portion of his speech, essentially comparing millions of immigrants in our nation to snakes.
Not only is the comparison offensive, inaccurate and fearmongering, it’s probably the worst possible example of what immigration in America really looks like.
Here are five stories, parables and phrases that capture the best of our nation, and why immigrants make it great:
- The Good Samaritan
While fear of the “other” is a powerful part of Trump’s rhetoric, the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, in which a traveler left for dead is saved by a man from a widely disparaged ethnic group, is one of the best examples of the inaccuracy and harmfulness of stereotypes. Like Samaritans, immigrants are often portrayed as opposing or conflicting with American culture and ideals — a portrayal with no basis in fact.
- Paddington Bear
This classic children’s story, featuring a small bear from South America who arrives in London and is adopted by a British family, focuses on a central theme “of the immigrant’s arrival, and the natives’ initially wary but ultimately wholehearted embrace.”Paddington’s story — of arriving in an unfamiliar place, often struggling with unfamiliar surroundings and ultimately leaving a positive impact on his adopted homeland — mirrors the stories of millions of immigrants across the U.S. Immigrants, contrary to President Trump’s preferred narrative, overwhelmingly embrace and enrich the culture of our country, just as they have done for generations.
- The Lion and the Mouse
This fable, in which a mouse unexpectedly repays the generosity of a lion, is a lesson in the mutual benefits we reap when we base our actions (and policy) on a foundation of compassion.
- Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote
This children’s book documents the challenges migrants face on their journey to a better life, highlighting the struggles that thousands of families face in the search for opportunity and safety. Immigrants make the often long and arduous journey to America in search of opportunities to work hard and provide for their families, not because of “The Snake’s” insidious ulterior motives.
- City Upon a Hill
This phrase originated in a biblical parable and was popularized by John Winthrop, one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It has become a popular image used by Presidents John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and others to illustrate the United States’ unique role in the world, as an example to other nations and a beacon for those seeking prosperity and freedom.The use of the phrase highlights how out of place Trump’s comments are in the context of our nation — the United States always has strived to “set an example of communal charity, affection, and unity to the world.” Trump’s comments today on immigrants were not only divisive, they were inherently un-American.