We Have Crossed the Line

“I am the son of an immigrant and the husband of an immigrant. I live in a county where half of the residents were born in a foreign country and three-quarters of us were born someplace else – here not by chance but by choice, striving to lead better, healthier, more successful American lives. Welcome to where we think immigration is good and where we take inclusion seriously.”       – Alberto Ibarguen, president, the Knight Foundation

In the last few days, I have found both solace and wisdom in Alberto Ibarguen’s welcoming remarks last week in Miami to the Knight Foundation’s Media Learning Seminar, which was focused on promoting more informed, engaged and healthier communities.

“This is not a conference about immigration or even about diversity,” he continued, “but about a search for truth in a pluralistic society. We believe in Knight Foundation’s core values: free expression, citizen engagement and equitable, inclusive and participatory communities.

“Perhaps my favorite John Knight quote is where he describes the purpose of a great newspaper to inform and illuminate the minds of its readers ‘to rouse them to pursue their true interests.’ He assumed an honest search for truth, he faithfully strove to separate opinion from fact, and he knew a well-informed community is a prerequisite before citizens can reasonably determine their own true interests.”

In the last few days, we have witnessed the president of the United States launch extraordinary and simultaneous attacks on the legitimacy of a free press and our commitment to a pluralistic society.

When we start rounding up people in this country based on the kind of profiling that is now happening and when we attack the foundation of the institution charged by the Constitution with being the watchdog of our republic, I believe we have crossed the line between democratic debate and fascist demagoguery.

It is here that I’ll make my stand.

James G. Blaine

About James G. Blaine

Most of us undervalue what seem our tiny contributions to our communities and the world. As a result, we feel powerless, even victimized. But, like the butterfly effect in science, the lives we lead with our families, in our communities, and at work – all the so-called little things we do – collectively change the world. As I grow older, my ambition grows more modest but not less important: to participate fully and to contribute what I can. That’s my goal with this blog.