Over the nearly 23 years I have worked for The Redwood Gazette, I have been called a lot of things. Some I would wear as badges of honor, and others I would not repeat in any setting.
I have been called lazy, ignorant, biased, uncaring and a racist.
I have also been called a hard worker, smart, fair, compassionate and a friend to lots of people.
As I have mentioned in the past, people have called me a liberal (people like Joe Kriegl and Paul Sobocinski, two men I respect are likely laughing if they bother to read this right now) and others have called me far too conservative (apparently there are a lot of others who are laughing at that right now, too).
According to what I have heard recently, I have been putting on my liberal face.
Why is that, you may be asking.
It has to do with an issue that has raised the hackles of many in the community, and, outside of the hiring or firing of a high-school coach, it has created quite a stir. That issue is refugee resettlement, and, according to some I have been leaning too far to the left on this topic.
I want to be clear.
I think there is a place for refugees in this country and even in Redwood County, but I also think that for far too long in our history we as a nation have played fast and loose with the definition of what that really means.
When I was in school, there was a student in my class whose family had come to America as refugees. He became a good friend of mine, and he was a fantastic wrestler. His family moved away before we graduated, but I will say that his family and another which still has connections to our community are a great asset to who we have become.
I have heard the stories about people under previous administrations who, from my perspective, should never have been allowed into this country for any number of reasons – the most important being that they have no interest in becoming part of this nation.
From my perspective, if you want to live in America and reap the benefits of this country, then you ought to embrace our culture. That does not mean giving up your identity or your own culture, nor does it even mean giving up your beliefs (although I would love it if everyone converted to Christianity, because I absolutely believe it is the truth).
However, I think that it does mean you ought to assimilate. Learn to speak English, because that is what is spoken here. Work your way toward becoming a citizen. If you don’t want to be a citizen, then you have no business being here.
What I have learned about the refugee resettlement program is that there are an awful lot of good people who are facing terrible circumstances and need to escape that. When an Iraqi who assisted the United States learns that they need to flee or die, I think, with proper vetting, they ought to have the opportunity to come to this country.
I understand this might be a rare exception, but I also recognize that there are others who are under unique circumstances, whether they are facing religious or political persecution, who need to be safe. I think everyone deserves to have that feeling.
There is still a lot of misinformation when it comes to this topic, and I am willing to admit there is a lot I have to learn. I hope you, too, will respectfully listen and learn.
If my willingness to be open minded makes me a liberal in your eyes, I guess you can think that.
This November I will be voting for Donald Trump and many other conservatives, not because I agree with them completely, but because I believe they will do the right thing for our country.