2011-10-05 / Editorial

Jim Shumard


My daddy, a West Point graduate, raised me on the values of duty, honor and country and emphasized the values and symbols of the American Revolu- tion. When I think of those values, I think of freedom…of speech, of the right to bear arms, of religion, from the government being able to house troops at my house and freedom from arbitrary arrest. Dad taught me to treat my American Citizenship as a special and sacred gift. Freedom from government control was so drilled into me that at age 18, I found it difficult to actually believe that the government could really draft me without my approval. I grew up amazingly naive and ignorant of so much that was going around me.

I am older now and no longer ignorant and I am disturbed by what I heard about an infringement into our rights as American Citizens. I heard of a law passed in the state of Alabama. This law, from what I heard on television, which may or may not be a reliable source, authorizes police to stop and interrogate anyone that they personally believe might be an illegal alien. It would follow then that if I began wearing a Canadian Flag T shirt and start using the word, “eh” a lot, that a policeman at his own discretion could choose to stop me on the street and require me to show proof of citizenship. This is not too far fetched for there are a number of Church of Canada and Church of England priests serving in The Episcopal Church in Savannah and around the country. So I very easily could appear to be Canadian and a policeman could accost me and ask me for my papers. I do not carry proof of citizenship when I am walking down a street nor did I ever dream I would have to.

Of course we know this will probably not happen because I do not fit a racial profile of the illegal immigrants that these laws were intended to apply to. However, there are many American Citizens who do look like the racial profile and this means they may be stopped at will. Most of us remember or know that German police in the 1930’s and 1940’s, rounded up groups of German citizens they had targeted and sent them to concentration camps. Many of us might not know or remember that a large group of American citizens were rounded up in the United States by our own government in the 1940’s and sent off to concentration camps because of our racial fears. I believe that the violation of one American Citizen’s rights is the violation of all American Citizens’ rights.

I remember riding the German trains in the 1970’s and when a German conductor approached with his military looking hat and asked for my papers, I felt immediate fear for the memories of The Great Escape came flooding into my mind. I do not want to ever feel that fear in the United States of America nor do I want any American Citizen to experience that fear.

My ancestors fought in the American Revolutionary War and spilled our blood to gain the freedoms that American Citizenship stands for. Democrats, Independents and Republicans should be united on not allowing the violation of our freedom because we once again live in anxious and fearful times. FDR said we have nothing to fear but fear itself and I believe it is fear itself that is driving this wagon and wagging this dog.

You may contact Rev. Shumard at jshumie@aol.com or at stmichaelswaynesboro.org

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