I watched as hundreds of mostly white people paid extra money and stood in a long line just to have their picture taken with a black man.
I watched as the mostly white crowd of about 700 people gave a standing ovation to an Indian-born Muslim after his speech.
For a political rally, one might think I was at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. I wasn’t. I was at the Safari Texas Ranch covering the Lincoln-Reagan Dinner for the Fort Bend County Republican Party. As I watched the events of the evening unfold the night of March 1, it occurred to me that some of the rhetoric espoused by the local Republicans was not unlike the rhetoric pushed by Democrats recently.
Both sides talk about the importance of diversity and inclusiveness. They talk about empowering women and minorities. They talk about ending the violent culture war and seeking common ground. They talk about principles and values, albeit different ones.
That’s where the wall goes up between the two ideologies. Specifically, President Trump’s border wall – or more accurately, Trump himself. The President has become a lightning rod of criticism and contention from both sides of the aisle.
That black man I mentioned earlier is Dr. Ben Carson, the famed neurosurgeon turned presidential candidate and currently the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. As he put it in his keynote address, “Our president is not a choirboy.”
“He is what we need right now,” Carson continued. “Those who want to fundamentally change this nation, they hate him because he represents all the things that they are trying to change.”
What Carson and fellow speaker, U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, said is that there is a growing, radical, far-left element under the progressive banner aiming to transform the country into something resembling a socialist state.
“It’s not about Republicans and Democrats, it’s about people who love our nation and our system and people who want to fundamentally change us into something else. We have a fight on our hands. What we have is really worth saving,” Carson said.
Trump has always been a controversial figure with failed marriages and shady business dealings littering his past. His crude, bull-in-a-china-shop recklessness has rankled many in the GOP who back him not because of who he is or how he gets things done but because of what he does get done. After eight years of Barack Obama, results matter.
As for Trump’s wall, I honestly don’t care if it gets built or not. It wasn’t an issue until Trump made it one. Border security, however, is increasingly important. There are other ways to deal with it without building a wall. I do agree with him that there is a crisis at the border. It’s a crisis of policy and enforcement. America’s inept enforcement of its immigration laws has allowed this crisis to build over a period of decades or more.
Forget the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, what we have are the corrupt, the immoral, and the criminal pouring into the country. Sure, there are plenty of people trying to come into America with the hope for a better life. That better life, however, follows a legal immigration process. Sneaking into the country and leaching off the welfare system isn’t prosperity, it’s trespassing and theft – taking something that doesn’t belong to you that someone else worked and paid for.
Yet there are some ideologists dancing around on the far-left fringes who have no problem with that. There are some who feel that if you are rich you must be inherently evil and have made your fortune on the backs of the oppressed and the poor and therefore do not deserve to keep what you have earned and worked and risked everything for.
What these progressives are doing is working to undermine the country from within. They’re politically active, getting elected and pushing laws that countermand the Constitution. They infiltrate the schools and spread their beliefs to the next generations. They become talking heads on “news” programs and disseminate their agenda to the masses.
We’re just 17 years removed from the 9/11 attacks and they want us to forget that it was Muslim extremists who brought war to our shores. They seem to want us to be open-minded and accepting of our Muslim brethren to the extent of rejecting our Judeo-Christian beliefs and heritage.
That’s what made the appearance of Dr. Shahid Shafi such an enigma at the Lincoln-Reagan Dinner. Regrettably, I did not record or take notes on Shafi’s remarks. If you have not heard of Dr. Shafi, he is on the Southlake City Council and is vice chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party in the Dallas area.
The Tarrant County GOP tried to oust him as their vice chairman last year because he is a Muslim. He survived the effort, which redoubled his belief that the Grand Old Party has a big enough tent for all people, not just rich, white folks. This is important because the left works so hard to paint the right as racist, which is untrue.
I don’t recall exactly what Shafi had to say, but I do recall feeling strongly that the Republican Party had turned a page when it could so warmly and affectionately welcome a Muslim man into its ranks. He was here to reinforce conservatism, not alter it. To me he represented a push toward middle ground.
He is proof that when followed properly, the U.S. immigration system works well. He came here with little, became a doctor, and has built a successful medical practice and become a respected member of his community. He did it at a time when immigrants and Muslims were facing extreme prejudice. I have to admire that.
Ultimately, I think the point I’m trying to make here is that we can have peace and civility despite our differences. What we need is to teach ourselves and our children how to have reasonable discussions with those who are different from us. We can disagree without being disagreeable. By finding common ground and working together we can weaken the radical fringes on both sides and rediscover that united spirit that we all felt in the days right after 9/11.