Home » Word On the Street » Syracuse – Standing Tall

Syracuse – Standing Tall

Preface

One very important responsibility I have to you in this column is to never falsely offend. The substance of his article requires this explanation. A brief preface is necessary lest this article give an appearance of good governing by a dispassionate leader.  Our Mayor Stephanie Minor has twisted law to make legal what otherwise is illegal. This caused a corruption that destroyed lives leaving suffering victims in dismay over the degree of unfairness and wrong. Our Mayor displaced several City and City Hall Employees with cruelty and unfair reason. Our Mayor insulted and then held vendetta against several Councilors of her own party for mere disagreement, which is the heart of our Democracy ( … and proceeded to ruin them). Our Mayor is not a good leader or a good person. She has, for selfish and revolting reason, forfeited the integrities of honorable democracy. She has abused her power and hurt many, purely without regard. She would change her Sanctuary City stance in less than a heartbeat if it were politically advantageous —without even looking back as the suffering went on. A selfish good deed does not lessen the guilt of one otherwise cruel.                                                       

Sanctuary

Syracuse – Standing Tall

The quilt that is America is made up of many threads of different colors; yellow red, white and brown and this fabric is no stronger than the weakest thread. When we pull out a single brown, the fabric falls into a heap.

In Abraham Lincoln’s anti-slavery Cooper Union Address in New York City on February 27, 1860 – he concluded: LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.

The quilt that is America is made up of many threads of different colors; yellow red, white and brown and this fabric is no stronger than the weakest thread. When we pull out a single brown, the fabric falls into a heap.

The Arc of History bends toward Justice. It is basically an idea that although there are many bumps along the way and sometimes we go in the wrong direction on questions of civil liberties like the Dred Scott Decision; overall, when we look at history there is a forward progression in the direction of justice. Abraham Lincoln’s life and all great leaders since, in this ever so rare land, reflect this path. The errors in our Founding reveal the disturbing complexity of the human injustice of the times. The roots of evil had dug so deeply in our land that a horrible civil war, nearly a century after our Founding, was necessary for the honest pursuit of human justice to become compatible with the intent of this great land. We must never lose sight of that pursuit.     

The second paragraph in the Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that “All” Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Feb 14, 2014 –

Contradiction: ARTICLE I, SECTION 2, CLAUSE 3 — Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including “those bound to Service” for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

Contradiction: ARTICLE 4, SECTION 2, CLAUSE 3 — Fugitive Slave Clause — No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but “shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due”.

Benjamin Franklin wrote following Negotiations in London in 1775:  “A little before I left London, being at the House of Lords during a debate in which Lord Camden spoke, I was much disgusted from the ministerial side by many base reflections on American courage, religion, and understanding, in which we were treated with the utmost contempt as the lowest of mankind, and almost of a different species from the English of Britain”. Benjamin Franklin was humiliated at this meeting of the elite British Privy, (advisors to the King). With great irony, yet without comparable merit at the time, they forced upon this Founding Father the feelings of injustice and inferiority felt by slaves. It was at this meeting that Benjamin Franklin became a Revolutionary. Slaves had no recourse but servitude or die.    

On September 18, 1850 one of many horrible laws was passed. It was referred to as the Fugitive Slave Law. Also referred to as the “Bloodhound” law for the dogs that were used to track down runaway slaves. The law required that Northerners who opposed slavery participate in the hunting down of runaway slaves and the returning of them to bondage. Once returned, they were subject to torture or death or being worked to death as a slave-holders twisted example. Syracuse, like many Northern cities refused to obey this law. Syracuse was first among the northern cities in its opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law. All the men of color who worked on the canals, and in the shops as citizens of Syracuse were Syracuse citizens. And Syracuse would not abide by a law that would require these Northern men to live by Southern values, “Period.”

The law itself was designed to take those who opposed slavery and turn them into slave Hunters. Abraham Lincoln had it right when he said “there is a right and a wrong to the thing.” Northerners were repulsed by Southerners enslaving their fellow man and they would not participate. This was asking too much. Again, “Period.”

With the election of President Trump apparently a majority of the Electoral College has determined that we are now a country that does not want Brown immigrants and wants to send them back. To majorities in the great middle portion of this country that supported Trump this seems like justice, but to those of us in the Northeast and elsewhere, the actual majority of Americans, this seems to betray who we are. We can accept President Trump is our President and that he has the right to propose laws and have them passed if he can get a majority of the Congress to agree with him, but it is an entirely different thing to say that we have to become slave hunters. When the police officers we pay are required to grab every Brown citizen they stop and ask them to show their papers, we become the slave hunters and our dollars are used to put chains on our fellow citizens. This goes too far. Like our forefathers before us, we draw a line around our City and say this far and no further. In our city, victims of a misguided and dispassionate government, don’t have to worry about becoming victims of the “Good.” Our Police do not have to enforce and be part of crime against humanity.      

Syracuse has a heroic and proud history of protecting people against the ravages of inequality. Long before the Civil War Syracuse had become a vital link in the Underground Railroad. Slaves from all over the country came through Syracuse en route to Freedom in Canada. Underground Railroad “Stations” were clandestinely hidden throughout Syracuse and nearby towns. Millard Fillmore, Frederick Douglas and Harriett Tubman were among the Central, New York unsung heroes that silently protected those escaping the evil in humanity that had diminished them. On October 1, 1851 William “Jerry” Henry, a slave escaping captivity, was found by authorities and arrested in Syracuse. To his good fortune an anti-slavery convention was being held in Syracuse on that same day. As “Jerry” lay despairing in his jail cell, pondering the punishment and pain that lay in his captured future, heroes of the day were at work. That same evening several hundred abolitionists stormed the Jail, freed Jerry and saw to his safe transport through the Underground Railroad system to freedom. Fast forward 166 years:

On October 1, 1851 William “Jerry” Henry, a slave escaping captivity, was found by authorities and arrested in Syracuse. That Evening, Several hundred abolitionists stormed the Jail, freed Jerry and saw to his safe transport through the Underground Railroad system to freedom.

Laws regarding immigration and proper vetting to insure safe American assimilation and deporting “serious criminals” make good moral, just and safe sense. It is our insistence on punishing those that are already here as a result of decades of welcoming attitudes that is so brutally wrong. Especially in the age of “Trump” where things are not thought out. Innocence will be swept up experiencing the terror of far lessor lands. Personal prejudices among localities and enforcers will be determinates rather than humane and American thought out rules. This makes Sanctuary Cities a crucial and tragic requisite as we have become perpetrators of the very kinds of “human rights violations” that we condemn around the world.   

The Equality embraced in our Constitution gave birth to the hope that mankind could one day live together in peace.

A great fault in the media is that they overlook history. Their pursuit of ratings has ruined the influences this country needs. History is Destiny. Where have they been for 70 years? Every American should know this. Mexicans were as much American heroes of World War II as anyone from the Greatest Generation in support of the War. Their purpose was as important as Rosie the Riveter to the war effort. Together they insured the food supply and the strength of the U.S. economy during the War years. We recruited them by the 10’s of thousands. Legality did not matter. America wanted and needed them. In the years after the war illegal immigration was of little concern, as they were wanted and welcomed by the corporate world and leaders of the time. They were Heroes. By the end of the Korean War, illegal immigration had become a fixture of the U.S. agricultural economy. Establishing roots and families was a natural consequence.

“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country.” Robert F. Kennedy, 1968 Speech on the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Indianapolis, Indiana    

166 years after “Jerry” was rescued and 152 years after slavery was abolished we still live in a land where others are viewed as unwelcome. We have a dark side that we must never lose sight of less it overwhelm. This deportation issue involving as many as 20 million Mexicans is very dark and very disturbing. They all must live in fear. Apart from the absolute absurd departure from the American way, their heroic contribution during World War II is all but forgotten. This human unfairness diminishes what we fought for. This is not what we do. At least not in the America I try so hard to believe in. In any instance, where we sublimate another human being we are failing every hope there is for this land to be a beacon for mankind. The Equality embraced in our Constitution gave birth to the hope that mankind could one day live together in peace. When we fail this great intent, hope is gravely dimmed and differences metastasize, and the quality of mankind is diminished. I am proud to live in a City that will not be a part of such things. Syracuse is “Walking Tall.”

Bill McClellan