Steve Seats

While there are many, many reasons for any decent, conscientious person to despise the federal government in general, and the Trump administration in particular right now, those reasons were hammered home last week when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) descended on our community and abducted several of our coworkers, neighbors and friends. 

While the Trump administration’s consistently blatant xenophobia and thinly veiled racism may play well to the base instincts of his most fervent supporters, the reality of his policies here in Moab serves only to exacerbate our already chronic worker shortage. But the economic argument is only the most selfish and superficial one available, so I wanted to get it out of the way first. Forgive me.

The most compelling arguments to Trump’s hostility and demonization of the foreign born “other” lay in logic and morality.

While the implementation of Trump’s family separation policy has sparked outrage, and deservedly so, equally telling is the administration’s utter unpreparedness and total incompetence in regards to family reunification. Having given no thought to “what comes next,” Trump and his lackeys in the Justice Department have managed only to commit yet another costly and embarrassing blunder on the world stage.

But that fiasco as well is too obvious to anyone possessing even a shred of compassion and who has been paying only a slight bit of attention to dwell upon. Let’s bring this back home.

As I write this, I find that the real source of my anger, my outrage, stems from personal experience. Not many years ago I suffered a minor mishap. It was one of those mishaps that resulted in a late-night trip to the emergency room and a rushed midnight surgery.

I was living in a camper then, parked out in the back of beyond. Way, way back of beyond. For several weeks, while bones mended and joints realigned, I couldn’t walk or drive. In fact, all I could do was lie in bed and groan. Of all the people I know, only three made it a top priority to make sure I was fed, hydrated and medicated. They were all some shade of brown. One was gay, two were Dreamers. They are the kind of people I want for my neighbors. Now two are in the proverbial firing line, and who knows how much longer before the time comes for the third.

I’m reminded of a story I once read. It was written by a survivor of the concentration camps. It goes something like this: First they came for the Jews. I am no Jew so I did nothing. Then they came for the homosexuals. I am not a homosexual and again I did nothing. Next it was the intellectuals. I am certainly no intellectual so yet again I did nothing. And when they came for me there was no one left.

And so, we find ourselves back at the beginning. I keep drifting back to history and the world stage because lacking a crystal ball, they provide my only guidepost as to where this recent attack on our community may lead. While we are, thankfully, a long way from death camps, despots always begin with demonizing the ethnic or religious “other.”

And where do we go from here? As for myself, lacking any economic or political clout, I find I must withdraw any support or allegiance I may have once had for our federal government until such time as it conducts itself in a manner fitting the once-greatest nation on earth. No longer will I stand for the anthem or pledge allegiance to a flag or nation that now stands in disgrace. Hollow and symbolic actions to be sure but a start.

Another start, less symbolic, less hollow, would be to pressure our city and county leaders to find the moral and political courage to finally declare Moab a sanctuary city. While risky, both economically and legally, it is a risk we must take. Taking the high road has never been easy or without risk and has never been more imperative. There is no way to predict where this erratic administration will turn for its next target to scapegoat and demonize. It is time, past time, for the people of Moab to stand up for those foreign-born “others” while there are still others to stand up for you.  

Steve Seats lives in Moab. He enjoys chess, exploring remote corners of the Colorado Plateau and long, rambling philosophical conversations — mostly with his dog.

“It is time, past time, for the people of Moab to stand up for those foreign-born “others” while there are still others to stand up for you.”