It’s deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra used to say. Howzat? We recently marked the 100th anniversary of the passage and implementation of the Immigration Act of 1917. That’s when we slammed the door on immigrants from the “Asiatic Barred Zone,” a sprawling region that included Saudi Arabia, most of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
It’s sixteen presidents and 100 years later. History is repeating itself. What’s that they say about unlearned lessons?
This time, in 2017, it’s countries that total 98% Muslim populations. We’re securing our borders from violent extremists, who will destroy us as they subvert our way of life. “I don’t want my … to end up wearing a burkah,” I’ve heard from those who agree with barring the door..
Where am I going with this?
It spans the distance between Older Dad and Younger Child.
Here’s how: The school where I work recently held a seminar on School Safety. During my childhood, this would’ve entailed admonishments about listening to crossing guards and not standing up on the sliding board.
Times certainly have changed.
The School Safety seminar I attended was about what to do if an outsider came into your school bent on violence.
It included a chilling video clip (reenactment) of a shooter in the school cafeteria.
We learned about locked doors, turning out lights, what to expect from emergency responders, and escaping the building if possible.
Why is this necessary?
(Criteria: A firearm was discharged, even accidentally, on a school campus, involving students or school employees.)
The data trackers also determined there was, on average, one death per shooting, and two or more deaths in 6.3% of the incidents. You can’t it on gang violence — that accounted for only 6.6 percent of shootings.
During the 1960s, our biggest safety fear in schools (besides sliding boards) was nuclear attack.
There would be drills where we’d file out of our classrooms into the hallway, and crouch on all fours facing the wall with our hands over our heads. We’d huddle there quietly (“Shh!” Um, were they really going to hear us?) until the teachers determined we were sufficiently schooled in surviving nuclear destruction.
In retrospect, it was rather silly. Maybe we’d avoid being skewered by flying glass. But it was more likely we’d face vaporization or lethal radiation. I can see it now — the rows of scorched shadows of crouched 4th graders, etched on the concrete block walls of our elementary school hallways.
It’s a large leap, from the paranoid fear of Communist nuclear attack, to the very real fear — possibility — that someone is going to come into your school with a gun, determined to kill and harm defenseless students.
We keep taking our eye off the ball. Three-hundred-eighty-plus school shootings? And our government thinks a Muslim immigration ban is needed to keep us safe?
According to the New America Foundation, jihadists killed 94 people inside the United States between 2005 and 2015. During that same time period, 301,797 people in the US were shot dead, dozens of them young children in schools.
It doesn’t appear we need to look as far as our borders for solutions.
It’s a sad legacy we’re leaving for the next generation.