Walls will not keep out terrorists. Tighter borders and stricter immigration policies will not keep out terrorists. A stronger military with more expensive guns, more expensive bombs, and more expensive drones will not keep out terrorists.
In 1848, terrorists arrived in California. They came in search of land and gold. They did not care for the Miwok, or the Pomo, or the Ohlone, or the countless other Native people who had lived there for centuries. Financed by the government for the people, of the people, and by the people, the terrorists began their swift genocide. In the village of Yontocket, they killed hundreds of Tolowa. On an island at the north end of Clear Lake, they killed hundreds of Pomo. Today, they are building oil pipelines on native land. Today, Native people must still fight in the courts for the simple right of being federally recognized.
In 1898, terrorists came to my home, the Philippines. They came with guns and ships and flags and promised us our independence from the Spanish. We fought alongside them, and they captured our capital of Manila and closed the gates on our men. By 1899, they were slaughtering us by the thousands. Today, the Philippine-American War is recognized as one of the few major armed conflicts in which the Filipino dead far outnumbered the Filipino wounded.
In 2017, terror continues within the borders of a nation whose leaders have long declared it their mission to stop it. The terror that a white man feels when he sees a woman wearing a hijab in the airport is nothing compared to the terror that a black boy feels when he is pulled over by a police officer. It is nothing compared to the terror that a gay boy feels when he is taken by his parents to be “cured.” It is nothing compared to the terror that women who cannot access birth control, who cannot walk on the streets, who cannot drink alcohol without being told what to do with their bodies feel.
The terror that a white man feels when he sees someone with different skin walking on his soil — except it is not even his — is nothing compared to the terror college students and American residents from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia now feel. It is nothing compared to the terror that families broken by these borders feel; it is nothing compared to the terror that students who may no longer be able to return home feel; it is nothing compared to the terror that refugees who, after being turned away by the land of opportunity, have no home to return to feel.
But we will not let those who deny their country’s long legacy of terror bury it under laws and lies and walls. We will not let them deny the fear they have caused.
Contact Ethan Chua at [email protected].