A letter to Enrique Peña Nieto, president of the United Mexican States, from a newspaper columnist in Dallas, Texas.
Dear President Peña Nieto:
Please don’t pull the rug out from under us. We need your help, and the world needs your help. If you temporize too much with the regime in Washington, if you bend too far, you will take all of us in the United States of America who already despise this regime and cast us to the wind.
Please see us. On the night of the announcement of President Donald Trump’s ban on immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim countries, the mayor of my city, Mike Rawlings, rushed to join the county judge, Clay Jenkins, who is the highest elected official in county government, at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
Ahead of them and already in place at the airport were two Dallas lawyers, Angela Hunt, who is a former City Council member, and William O. (Bill) Holston Jr., who is the executive director of the Human Rights Initiative. Hunt and Holston were organizing and marshaling a steady stream of lawyers flowing in from the region, rushing to the airport unbidden and on their own to do whatever they could.
Mayor Rawlings sought out the families whose loved ones were detained, unseen and unnamed somewhere in the airport, to express two things to them. He told them they and their relatives were welcome in Dallas. And he told them he considered the Trump immigration ban to be un-American.
By their presence, the mayor and the county judge served notice on federal officials at the airport that local eyes were upon them — the eyes of elected officials — and that the people detained were considered important persons by those officials. You are aware I know, Mr. President, of the kind of difference that sort of official attention can make in the way people are treated.
The volunteer army of lawyers at the airport were filling an even more active role, pressing immigration officials for names and status of the detained, keeping up with three federal court decisions on the ban in other parts of the country, helping families of the detained — in other words doing whatever they could.
Swelling around them was a crowd of over 1,000 regular citizens from all walks of life, many with placards protesting the detentions and expressing dismay and anger. It was a scene repeated at airports across the nation.
Here, we are not New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. We are a regional city, far from our nation’s first-tier seats of power. Our region includes many residents who are strong supporters of President Trump, some of whom also support his ban on Muslim immigrants.
Many of them agree with his vow to build a wall to physically divide Mexico from the United States, and among those are some who believe that Mexico should be humiliated and forced to pay for the wall.
But please look at the other side of us, at the spontaneous and passionate outpouring of opposition to Trump and all that he stands for displayed at D/FW Airport over this weekend just passed. Please see that for what it is — clear evidence that an angry and effective center of opposition to Trump exists in the heartland of our nation, that it crosses class and economic lines and that it can be quickly stirred to action.
We are closer to you than those centers of power I mentioned above. In addition to a physical border, we enjoy a tradition of shared culture and respect. We also are your partners in an international trade relationship that is valued and important on both sides of that border.
I mention these things, which you well know already, because I want you to know that we understand the difficult task you face. You must weigh the crucial interests of your people in deciding how to deal with the mercurial and unpredictable Trump regime. We here in Dallas understand that this can’t be a simple contest of egos. Too many lives and too much human welfare are at stake. We see and appreciate the important incentives you have for compromise.
Please see and appreciate what we are fighting for as well here in Dallas, what we must continue to fight for even more desperately in the years ahead. We are fighting for the moral center of our country.
Let’s look at a specific instance — the Trump border wall and his insulting insistence that he will make you pay for it. If I were in your position and if I thought there were some sham tactic of superficial compromise that would allow the mad child in the White House to think he had won, I might be very tempted to adopt it. Balanced against the potential loss of jobs and trade, to say nothing of the threat Trump poses to world order itself, I would have to seriously weigh whatever tokenism would quiet him.
But as a person who has successfully sought elective office yourself, you also know that Trump only stands and waves his banner in front of a mass of people. It is that mass that presents the true ongoing threat. If they taste ultimate victory and domination, they will persevere in their path with or without a Donald Trump as their drum major.
And maybe I can guess a question forming in your mind already. If the America that I want you to cast your lot with instead is so important, why didn’t it get its candidate for president elected? I can tell you without fear of contradiction that that question is over my head. I do not know. The question keeps me restless at night.
My America did win the popular vote. We had an opportunity to support a populist insurrectionary candidate of our own, and we chose not to. I think most of us are willing to take our losses. We believe we lost because we lost. We made mistakes. We’re not trying to will away our losses with conspiracy theories. The people who say they don’t accept Trump as a legitimate product of the electoral system are expressing anger, not a serious theory of what happened. He was elected. He’s the president. That’s the problem. The only important questions now are about what happens next.
In that connection, you would deal us a terrible blow if you were to accept some face-saving compromise on the wall. Trump must not be allowed to trade human welfare for his own face-saving. He must be dealt a humiliating blow on the wall as he must be dealt humiliation for his persecution of human beings based on religion.
He must be humiliated. He must be defeated.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Obviously this is not only about Mexico and the U.S. The entire realm of Europe and the European diaspora is riven by a last grotesque global gasp of white supremacy. All of us in the world must serve notice on the white supremacists that their fever-dream of racial dominance will not be tomorrow’s reality.
We North Americans are sometimes a little hard to nail down in terms of our ethnicity, but if you look here, or here, or here, President Peña Nieto, you will see many pale-faced progeny of Europe in those crowds of protesters at D/FW Airport over the weekend. The white supremacists by no means represent a monolith in this country. The rest of us European-Americans despise and revile what they say and stand for as much as anyone of other than European origin ever could.
But we need you to stand with us. Help us resist him. If you cannot help us bring him to the humiliation and defeat he deserves, at least don’t give him a victory, even a symbolic one. This is a man who understands only the language of winning and losing. Don’t give him an opportunity to tell his supporters he has won. They believe him easily enough already.
We are with you. Be with us. Be careful what you put into his hand.