I had wanted to post this when the news initially broke, three weeks ago, but as is the way in Trump World, many other stories got in the way. But it's still very much on topic, about immigrants, so the day after Independence Day seems a good time to finally get to it.
On June 11, a Kansas CIty, Missouri, restaurant and market has been vandalized with "Immigrants not welcome" spray-painted on it.
Oh, by the way, no, it's not what you think. It's an *Irish store* that has been open since 1901. Yes -- Irish.
Earlier that same same day, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) sent out a tweet about Republicans bashing Canada and bemoaning to his fellow Republican elected-officials that "This isn't our party." Well, this IS your Republican Party. And has been for a great many decades Trump is just the end result of the divisive Nixon "Southern Strategy," Willie Horton, Iraq War, faith-based initiatives, birtherism, voter suppression, Merrick Garland and more. I admire Sen. Flake's critical statements on Trump, but alas he supports and vote with His Party almost 100% off the time." For all those who try to defend Trump as "only" being against illegal immigrants, the scab is pulled away. Not just from this story, but it's been this way for a long while, with anyone who looks to be of foreign ancestry at risk of being attacked.
You can read about it more detail here.
After writing about that online, the story got personalized for me. I got a note from Dana Gustafson Regan, who I've known for a long time, though mostly from afar, every since I was a counselor at the oft-mentioned here Camp Nebagamon. She wrote, "This is my best friend's store. There is a plaque on the outside of the building (very near the idiot's spray paint) that says 'Since 1887 - the oldest Irish business in North America.' The current building opened in 1901. It's the most friendly, welcoming place you could ever visit. I wonder what is the foreign ancestry of the vandal."
It's a pathetic story from a distance -- having it personalized makes it even more impactful. I always have the same thought, too -- unless they're American Indian, what is the screaming vandal's own immigrant background? And when they cry, "Get out of MY country?" I want to ask back, "Just curious, what makes it 'yours'??? There are 320 million Americans here. Why isn't it his or his or hers or hers or hers or his or hers or hers or his or mine? You're out-numbered 319,999,999 to 1. And even though you don't understand or can take what America is, even you are still welcome here." What I also wonder is what makes a person so twisted and empty inside.
I'm glad this was only paint vandalism, it's easily repaired. And I suspect that Dan's friend -- whose family may well have been here longer than most, including the vandal -- is probably more pissed off and bewildered than concerned. But I'm sorry it happened.
After posting that, Dana replied "I think pity might sum up her feelings for this sad, misguided person."
Pity seems about right.
In fact, when the owner and a customer were asked about it, Fox 4 News reported that "Both men blame ignorance, lack of education, stupidity really."
What's encouraging is that there's a security camera which as a view of the vandalized area. The footage hasn't been checked yet, but it seems possible that it will help police identify the vandal.
The Kansas City Star talked to Kerry Browne, Dana's friend and co-owner of Browne's Irish Marketplace along with her husband, John McClain. "The bigger message to me has been the huge outpouring of support from the community," she said. "Hundreds of people have come down to support us and be with us."
She also talked about the outpouring of community support, along with calls from the Irish Heritage Center in Chicago, as well as a call from the Irish government in Dublin.
"If the person did this to show hate, they lost," Browne said. "Kindness wins. Good wins."