I had to have one of my regular blood tests today. After checking in, I sat in the waiting room. Opposite me was a TV tuned to the Fox network. A talk show called Wendy was just starting.
Apparently a feature of the show was Wendy going over the recent news, with the studio audience applauding, cheering, or booing as prompted by Wendy. Her first news item was on Therese Patricia Okoumou, the woman who climbed to the foot of the Statue of Liberty yesterday to protest our nation’s immigration practices.
Wendy didn’t mention Okoumou’s name. What she focused on what that the tourists who’d come to visit the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July were blocked by the police response. Her chief criticism was for the guards who had let Okoumou through so she could stage her protest.
My first reaction was, “Wendy, you sold your soul to Fox.” Wendy, the bulk of her audience, and Okoumou are all People of Color. So are the children being held in cages, along with their parents who are trying to escape the violence of their home nations.
I feel empathy for those imprisoned people, not only for their own circumstances, but from memories of similar experiences of the Jews in the time of the Holocaust. I asked myself what happened to the empathy of Wendy and her audience.
My second reaction was born entirely from having watched the musical 1776 the previous night:
John Adams: This is a revolution, dammit! We’re going to have to offend SOMEbody!
It’s a darn shame that some tourists were inconvenienced by Okoumou’s protest. I think the families being torn apart are even more inconvenienced. And traumatized. And living in fear.
It is my hope that Therese Patricia Okoumou and her compatriots will still keep trying to climb that statue. They’ll reach the top of Liberty someday.