On Friday, January 26, 2018 I attended the “We All Belong Here” rally and press conference called at noon in downtown Indianapolis in commemoration of the one-year anniversary of Trump’s Executive Order banning immigrants and refugees from six predominantly Muslim countries. The rally/press conference was called to reaffirm Indianapolis support (at least from some sections of Indy’s population) for the rights of immigrants, illegal and otherwise; Muslims wishing to resettle in the U.S.; DREAMers; and refugees to come to and live in the United States, a nation built on immigrants. I attended not only to affirm my solidarity, but, pointedly, also as an “oppressor” older white working-class male, a class of people that many Millennial leftists and advocates for social justice automatically write off as “racists,” Trump supporters, and irredeemably corrupted by “white, white male, and male ‘privilege.’” Conveniently forgetting that when we Baby Boomers were of Millennial age back in the 1960s, early 1970s, we were written off as hippies and upholders of “anti-American values,” while also touted by the left of that time as constituting a—Revolutionary Youth Movement!
The rally/press conference was called on short notice, was publicized only on Facebook, and was sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee: the Muslim student group at local university IUPUI; local organizations defending the rights of immigrants and refugees, legal, illegal, and DREAMers; the Indianapolis chapter of Jewish Voices for Peace; and the ACLU, all of which had representatives speak publicly before the human wall of reporters, TV cameras, and other cameras and cell phones gathered in front facing the crowd and speakers’ podium. The crowd was overwhelmingly young, and for Indiana (which is 84% white), racially and ethnically diverse, including several young Muslim women in hijabs. However, I’m proud to say, including me, my age and ethnicity cohort (white older persons of the left, 6d5 and older), five of us “racist oppressors” were present, gathered to also show our support and solidarity. Pointedly absent, both in attendance and in sponsorship, was Central Indiana DSA [Democratic Socialists of America], which also emphatically supports immigrant and refugee rights. However, only me and one other DSAer were in attendance, and DSA was notably not a listed co-sponsor. Why, I don’t know.
And while the Jewish Voices for Peace spokeswoman did note that Jews themselves had been refugees, vaguely denoting those European Jews who sought refuge in the U.S. from the Nazis, many of whom were directly refused asylum in the U.S., she devoted most of her speech to upholding Muslim immigrants, and gave a only a vague but very non-nuanced account of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
I was proud to stand in solidarity with my younger, ethnically diverse, comrades on this issue. For certainly do I support the rights of immigrants, DREAMers, and refugees. However, I note as an “oppressor white male” that our “older white working-class privilege” is hardly deterring the Republicans from now gunning for our Social Security and Medicare, as they have already done in proposed legislation; Social Security and Medicare, which are emphatically not “entitlements,” but rights needed to be guaranteed for all, including all those Millennials who will someday be oldsters like me, and will need the Social Security and Medicare we receive, but which may not be available for them. So, Millennials, Gen Xers, I address you: I stood with you on your issues; will you also stand with me on my issues, Social Security and Medicare? For truly, “An injury to one is an injury to all”!