While the Aberdeen American News editorial board delivers agnostic pap about how “The sun rose” after the election of Donald Trump (the sun also rose over the smoldering ruins of the Reichstag), how we cannot “know what a Trump presidency will be like” (as if sixteen months of hateful, ignorant speeches tell us nothing about a man), and how “Trump deserves a chance” (sure, let’s give Hitler a chance, said Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer at the beginning of the Nazi regime… not), entrepreneur and columnist Travis Kiefer calls on his fellow citizens to “take an active role in welcoming Muslims and helping them feel safe in their own country”… which our new neighbors will tell us is our country:
America is a nation of immigrants… so we must make real, legitimate steps to help people attain the promise of America and realize the same dream as our ancestors did.
…For Aberdeen, refugees ought to be welcomed, supported, and integrated into our community. The number of minority individuals who I know who have expressed fear and concern that they need to “lay [sic] low” is disheartening. We can and must do better [Travis Kiefer, “America’s Best Days Are Forward,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.11.10].
Kiefer is a Groton grad who studied and worked in California for a few years before coming back to South Dakota. He does not wear the flyover-country blinders that keep us middle-land folks from experiencing the diversity of our changing nation:
We, as a culture, have to stop infantilizing and deifying rural and white working-class Americans. Their experience is not more of a real American experience than anyone else’s, but when we say that it is, we give people a pass from seeing and understanding more of their country. More Americans need to see more of the United States. They need to shake hands with a Muslim, or talk soccer with a middle aged lesbian, or attend a lecture by a female business executive.
We must start asking all Americans to be their better selves. We must all understand that America is a melting pot and that none of us has a more authentic American experience [Patrick Thornton, “I’m a Coastal Elite from the Midwest: The Real Bubble Is Rural America,” Roll Call, 2016.11.10].
Aberdeen and South Dakota depend on young builders like Kiefer who can travel abroad but feel comfortable coming back to stake their claim and apply their talents and experiences to making South Dakota greater. We also depend on the refugees and immigrants whom Kiefer and other smart patriots can welcome, because they understand that while America’s faces change, America’s ideals remain the same.
Ronald Reagan would agree. Let us welcome new Americans, for their sake and ours.