We Celebrated MLK on Monday ... Did YOU Take the High Road?

ALPERN AT LARGE--We live in a nation where one side wants to save us all from the other ... but who shall save us from those trying to save us? 

Behind the emotions of the recent effort to create a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill lie some very real, and very ugly, politics.  As usual, the spectacle of each side claiming the high road while--in reality--taking the low road threatens the compromise and cohesion that most Americans actually want (or at least say they want). 

We had the choice (as per the televised bipartisan meeting of the minds) of allowing DACA recipients temporary (or longer) shelter here in the United States, but with an end to chain migration and the visa lottery, construction of "the Wall", and enforcement of E-Verify. 

Some immigration hawks screamed aloud in fury, while many shrugged and thought it was a fair compromise. 

Then the discussion about the President's foul language became the headline of the day, and the thought that any bipartisan effort was being scuttled for partisan purposes (on either and/or both sides) was buried by the usual suspects who NEVER want any bipartisan cooperation ... ever. 

Some very good people decried the potential for hurt feelings by the President's words, while some other very good people pointed out that these words have been used by both sides to represent nations of the Third World. 

Some very good people decried any negative sentiment towards individuals from Africa, Latin America, or Asia, while some other very good people (many from those regions of the world) have pointed out that the majority of those living there are very, very unhappy with the status of their nations ... and would love to leave there. 

Some very good people have noted that immigrants from all over the world have become upstanding and productive American citizens, and some other very good people have noted that other immigrants have chosen to not blend well and contribute to our society, and merit being deported. 

Some very good people have noted that immigrants are the lifeblood for new ideas and economic innovation for the United States, and other very good people have noted that we must not have an immigration policy that hamstrings the dreams and innovation of current American citizens. 

Some very good people have tied the plight of ethnic minorities to that of enhanced immigration, and other very good people have tied the plight of native-born ethnic minorities (especially African Americans) to the importation of more low-skilled/entry level labor to the detriment of those native-born ethnic minorities. 

Some very good people have taken on the immigration issue, with relaxed standards, as the latest fight for civil rights, while other very good people have pointed out that Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez and Ralph Abernathy all bitterly opposed illegal immigration because it hurt the wages and job opportunities of brown and black Americans and hurt unions. 

Some very good people have raised the issue of what our nation owes the rest of the world, and other very good people have raised the issue of what the rest of the nations of the world owe themselves. 

And some very good people have taken the President to task for insulting people from other nations of the world, while some other very good people have concluded that he was mainly referencing the nations from those other parts of the world failing their own citizens and peoples. 

So did YOU take the high road?  Are YOU so filled with hate that you've ignored the feelings and thoughts and conclusions of "the other side"? 

Or are YOU so caught up in your indignation, outrage, and offense that the consideration of hurt feelings going BOTH ways, and merit equal consideration, was lost because YOU were "right"? 

We are celebrating MLK now, and will celebrate George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in a month.  All three men wanted cohesion ... not any victory of one side over another within the United States...and saw their efforts as part of a much more important set of ideals than that which benefited themselves.  

These three men knew their limitations, and wanted us to come together.  They were not perfect individuals, and they each knew that.   

Perhaps we should all follow their lead, and try to do the same in our own, flawed, and opinionated lives.   

We need to capture the spirit and essence of what these men fought for, on both MLK Day and Presidents Day, in order to best address the relevance of our nation's past struggles amidst the present-day divisiveness of our so-called United States.


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at alpern@marvista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)