England in the finals; rooting for a matchup with Wales

“England started well and never gave us a chance to get into the game,” said New Zealand’s captain Keiran Read in a good summary of their 19-7 loss to the English side.

Manu Tuilagi scored 1:37 minutes into the match and George Ford added four penalty kicks. England had two tries called back because of infractions, one for obstruction and one for a call rarely seen: a ball slipped forward in a maul.

England’s defense kept the New Zealand running game bottled up, and we saw more missed passes and penalties from the Kiwis than we have seen in the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Their only try came on a poorly thrown or lack of communication on where to ball was supposed to end up in an England lineout. It ended in the hands of a New Zealand player who went untouched five yards for the score.

It’s the first RWC game the All Blacks have lost since 2007, and they will not three-peat.

Tonight’s game — make that 2 a.m. tomorrow in Seattle — could bring a non-RWC winner into the finals if Wales can get by South Africa. Then beat England in the finals, and the Welsh will win their first RWC championship. A tall order, but we’re still singing “Bread of Heaven.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Wish he had a chance to say more

Water 1Let’s start with the complaints and then get to the good stuff. Kathy and I arrived early — or so we thought — to get into Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle to hear Ta-Nehisi Coates speak on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. But we spent the hour between 7 and 8 p.m. in a line that wound around the outside of the hall, waiting to go through security.

I can’t blame Coates for asking for the extra security. In “Between the World and Me,” a book Coates wrote as a letter to his son, he said: “And you know now, if you did not before, that the police departments of your country have been endowed with the authority to destroy your body. It does not matter if the destruction is the result of an unfortunate overreaction. It does not matter if it originates in a misunderstanding. It does not matter if the destruction springs from a foolish policy. Sell cigarettes without the proper authority and your body can be destroyed. Turn into a dark stairwell and your body can be destroyed. The destroyers will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions. And destruction is merely the superlative form of a dominion whose prerogatives include friskings, detainings, beatings and humiliations. All of this is common to black people. And all of this is old for black people. No one is held responsible.”Between world

There are American who don’t like to hear that. They are the ones who, as Coates says, have succumbed to the “apparatus urging us to accept American innocence at face value and not inquire too much. And it is so easy to look away, to live with the fruits of our history and to ignore the great evil done in all of our names.”

Death threats against journalists are not uncommon, especially for columnists, especially for those of color who write about the “great evil done in all of our names.”

But I wish Benaroya Hall and Seattle Arts and Lectures would have planned better for getting us in out of the rain. There are five interior entries into Benaroya Hall, and the security points were set up there, wanding each member of the audience as they entered and checking through what they had emptied from their pockets and handbags. The staffers could have moved checkpoints to the row of exterior doors across the front of the building. It would have pushed the crowd out into the weather, but we were there anyway.

Coates 2The event was supposed to start at 7:30; we weren’t led to separate seats until 8 o’clock (only singles remained). Things finally got started at 8:15 but were halted 15 minutes later to take the buzz out of the microphones. By 9:20, it was over.

They are also trying out a new technology to display on your cell phone captions on what is being said. Great idea for someone like me with hearing problems. But I could not get it to work.

Charles Johnson, professor emeritus at the University of Washington and author of 24 books, including “Middle Passage,” a National Book Award winner in 1990, interviewed Coates. Too much Johnson; not enough Coates.

And now for the good. Our ticket included a copy of Coates’ new book, “The Water Dancer,” and I can’t wait to start reading it. It’s Coates’ fourth book and his first venture into fiction, about Hiram, born into slavery, fathered by the plantation owner who sells the mother when Hiram is still a child. He can’t remember his mother, but he is endowed with magical powers. That’s how it starts, and Coates said: “At the end, there is still slavery.”

He spent 10 years writing it and doing research, reading slave narratives, going to Civil War battlefields and plantations. He said his book agent got him interested in writing fiction, but Coates had other reasons.

“After the Bible, the second biggest seller of fiction is ‘Gone with the Wind,'” he said. Why is there such a romantic view of Civil War participants? Why is Robert E. Lee always gallant and heroic in his struggle to maintain slavery?

So there is a need for “inversion,” some way of creating another kind of hero. That could be putting a black man on a horse and giving him a gun, which sounded a lot like the movie “Django Unchained.” Taking the white man’s image and painting it black.

It sounds to me like Coates wanted to make the slave the hero, in a more quiet way than Jamie Foxx blazing away with a six-shooter. When I read the book, I’ll be interested in seeing if he did that.

Coates also touched on teaching writing: “Think of the writer as the forest ranger. People come to be guided through the national park. They don’t want the ranger to get lost.”

On Trump: “I wrote a column when he was elected, and anything I said now would be redundant.”

And about reconstructing the understanding of race in America: “Listen as much as I can and talk as little as I can.”

Wish he had been given a chance to say more last night.

P.S. Got this as an email today: “We’re so grateful you could join us for an evening with Ta-Nehisi Coates. We are dedicated to producing the best events possible, and we know that last night both the long security lines and delayed start were enormously frustrating. We are currently working with the venue to ensure these issues do not happen again.

“If you would like a refund, please email the SAL Box Office at boxoffice@lectures.org, or give us a call at 206-621-2230 x10, and we will be happy to refund your order.

“We are so sorry for the frustrations you experienced. I want you to know that we learn from each and every event and mistake, and I promise you that we will strive to make future events better.”

No need for a refund, but I hope they get things straight by our next event.

 

This week, I will be a Welshman singing “Bread of Heaven”

The suspects have stepped forward to the lineup, and they are the usual suspects: England will play New Zealand, and Wales will take on South Africa in the semifinals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Probably the best bet for beating New Zealand comes from England, who did away with Australia, 40-16, as Saturday started here in Seattle. Owen Farrell scored 20 of those points: kicking four conversions and three penalties. Jonny May had two tries, and the ref and the two teams’ front rows could never get together on how to keep set scrums from collapsing.

I struggled to get the iPad working at 3 a.m. to watch New Zealand against Ireland. By the time I got NBC Sports Gold running, the All Blacks were up 17-0. The Kiwis were mechanical, perfect and almost boring in how predictable they were in beating Ireland, 46-14. New Zealand may be headed for a three-repeat, winning the RWC in 2015 and 2011.

Of the four teams headed to the semis, Wales is the only one that has never won a World Cup. So I will be Welsh this week, hoping against all hopes that Wales can beat South Africa and then either NZ or England in the finals on Nov. 2. That’s betting on a doubtful outcome, like my handicapping for horse racing. But maybe . . .

Wales beat France, 20-19, after the Frenchmen showed how to link up backs and forwards in a fast running game. The turning point came when six-foot-eight Sébastien Vahaamahina got a red card for foul play. And foul it was. First he had Wales’ Aaron Wainwright in a headlock in the maul, dropped that and then elbowed Wainwright in the face. That will teach him for scoring Wales’ only try up to that point. Then it took Wales most of the second half to come up with another score against a team playing a man short. Wales goes on with a 20-19 win over France.

In their game against South Africa, Japan never got their thrilling running game going that they displayed so well against Scotland in the final game of pool play. They scored a penalty kick and held South Africa to 5-3 in the first half. And that was that, losing 26-3.

So if you hear me singing, it will be the song the “Bread of Heaven,” the song the Welsh fans sing in the stands as they are headed to victory and their first Rugby World Cup championship.

 

 

 

Kenya and Tanzania in a 38-photo slideshow

Still sorting through my photos from the recent trip to Kenya and Tanzania and realizing it will take forever to put them in some sort of arrangement that will be perfect. So I decided I would not let perfect be the enemy of good.

Here are some of what I think are some of my best in a slideshow. Hope you enjoy them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then I realized I had left out the cheetah. Didn’t want to cheetah you.

Cheetah

This blog has gone to the birds — African ones

This may be the first of several posts like this while I sort through photographs we took on our recent trip to Kenya and Tanzania. There are still elephants, lions, antelopes and many more animals to go in the 600 pictures I have saved out of more than 1,000 — not counting videos. As Laura said on the trip, “I just can’t stop taking pictures.”

And we’re not done with birds yet. I am still waiting for my bird identifier (that would be Kathy, who is now fully in the birder ranks) to finish other photos we have not traced down in our “Birds of East Africa” book. We probably will have some that we will need help on. Stand by.

Yellow-necked spurfowl
Yellow-necked spurfowl
Yellow billed stork
Yellow billed stork
Woolly-necked stork
Woolly-necked stork
Verreaux's eagle-owl
Verreaux’s eagle-owl
Spur-winged lapwing
Spur-winged lapwing
Secretary bird
Secretary bird
Lilac-breasted roller
Lilac-breasted roller
Helmeted guineafowl
Helmeted guineafowl
Hamerkop
Hamerkop
Great wite pelican
Great white pelican
Gray-headed kingfisher
Gray-headed kingfisher
Egyptian goose
Egyptian goose
Crowned lapwing
Crowned lapwing
Common squacco heron
Common squacco heron
Common fiscal
Common fiscal
African spoonbill
African spoonbill
African Jacana
African Jacana

Take me back to Theroux’s plain of snakes

Theroux book 2I’d read half of Paul Theroux’s new book, “On the Plain of Snakes,” when I went to hear the author speak Wednesday night, Oct. 16, 2019, at Seattle’s Town Hall. That was probably a mistake.

The night before, I had heard Tim Egan speak on his new book, “A Pilgrimage to Eternity.” Since it was published on that very day, I had obviously not read it.

So Egan’s speech was an introduction to the book. Theroux’s talk was probably an effective intro to his book, but for me, I wanted an expansion on what he had written and I had read.

What was behind President Clinton’s Operation Gatekeeper in 1994 that changed the U.S.-Mexico border from a simple line that Mexicans crossed every day to work, shop and visit to a place of “fences, patrol cars, security technology and massive deportations”?

Why was President Obama’s Fast and Furious program to sell high-caliber guns across the border so that they could be traced when cartel members committed crimes with them, such a failure?

Tell me more about Trump’s insults to Mexicans, the effects of NAFTA on Mexico’s poor and why Mexico’s government is so corrupt that Mexicans have little time to complain about the corruption in Trump’s administration.

More about the violence in Mexico and how the police and drug cartels are often the same.

Theroux 1But he did expand on some things he had written in the book, like his reaction to what he calls “the fence.” In the book, he wrote:

“An ugly steel fence you might associate with a prison perimeter, twenty-five feet high, like nothing I had seen in any other country. A Texas congressman had called it ‘an inefficient fourteenth-century solution to a twenty-first century problem,’ which was accurate because, like a medieval wall, it was merely a symbol of exclusion rather than anything practical, and easily climbed over or tunneled under. In an age of aerial surveillance and high-security technology, it was a blacksmith’s barrier of antiquated ironmongery: old rusty ramparts running for miles, a visible example of national paranoia.”

Theroux has written more than 50 books, many of them from his travels around the world. He says the southern border is the oddest one in the world, like a Christo environmental art project. He describes walking through the door in the fence at the end of a Nogales street as an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole experience. “Open the door, and suddenly you are in Mexico.”

Despite this oddness, the border is a back-and-forth flow, with most of it nowadays going north. Mexicans still come across, although now they have to stand in long lines with their legal documents to get to their jobs, etc.

One surprise for Theroux was the large number of what U.S. officials call “Special Interest Aliens,” people caught trying to cross the border from India, China, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and from African nations, mostly from Nigeria. In some Southwest U.S. detention facilities, fewer than half are from Mexico.

So why do they leave, Theroux asked. They are at home surrounded with their culture, family, religion and places they know. But they pay a coyote thousands of dollars to take them to the border and maybe across it. They have everything except that “they ain’t got no dinero.” Annual income for people living in the southern Mexico states of Chiapas or Oaxaca is similar to those in rural Kenya or Bangladesh: $3,400. People living in Eritrea fought for years to win independence and freedom from Ethiopia and are now the top group trying to get into Europe. After fighting like that, why would you leave?

“On the Plain of Snakes” tells the stories of some of these people. It’s not a travel book that will “tell you where the best tacos are in Merida,” but a book that will “see things as they are,” Theroux’s stock in trade.

The other reason I like this book is because it covers a place and a way of travel that I did with my friend Jeff in 1974 and 1975, traveling in the back of trucks that stopped for hitch hikers, in second-class buses and crowded train cars. Not sure if we saw things as they are, but we had a lot of fun traveling through Saltillo, Torreon, Durango, Mazatlan and Tepic, with a few “near death experiences” that Theroux calls the essence of travel books. And Theroux is 78-years-old; it’s not too late to do it again.

Jeff

John

 

Tim Egan seeks faith to avoid the big burn

Tim Egan's bookWriting a book about religion seems a radical departure for Tim Egan, whose previous eight books have covered history, mostly in the American West. But judging from the talk he gave Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, at Seattle’s Town Hall, his new book will be as good as “The Worst Hard Times,” for which Tim won the National Book Award.

Loved that book, but others say “The Big Burn” is even better. It’s beside my bed on a looming stack of books to read.

Tim and I crossed paths for a while when he was an intern at The Seattle Times. I also met up with him while teaching at the University of Montana. I was assigned to escort a visiting journalist from South Africa to a panel discussion. The topic was politics in the West – or something like that — and I only remember one thing about the panel: Tim knew more and expressed it flawlessly. Mostly I remember hoping the others would shut up so Tim could speak.

Tim EganHe did not disappoint on Tuesday night when he talked about “A Pilgrimage to Eternity,”  which records  his physical and spiritual trek along the Via Francigena, from Canterbury in England to the Vatican in Rome. He described himself as a lapsed Catholic, like about half of USA Catholics. He’d gotten to the point in his life where he was “too damned complacent,” but was then set in motion by two things: Trump dystopia (“Has anyone had a good night’s sleep since the election?”) and the death of his mother, who led him to a life of writing. She was a devout Catholic, but on her deathbed said she didn’t know what to expect, where she was going. I have my doubts, she told Tim.

If she had doubts, then where does that leave the rest of us with our “malnutrition of the soul,” as he put it. It was time, he said, for a “stiff shot of no-bullshit spirituality.”

Plus, he really likes the new pope. Pope Francis ministers to the poor, respects science and is named after St. Francis of Assisi, one of Tim’s favorites: “You have to admire someone who talked to wolves.”

Egan says he considers himself more of a time traveler than an historian, but it looks like there is lots of history in the book. Tracing Christianity from the 2,000 adherents 30 years after Jesus Christ’s death to the 2.3 billion today, the largest faith in the world. He stops along the way to tell the stories of Saint Thomas Becket, Saint Joan of Arc, Martin Luther and a couple of names hardly connected to spirituality: Napoleon Bonaparte and Oscar Wilde.

He pointed out discrepancies between what’s in the New Testament and how Christianity is sometimes practiced today, and talked about a miracle that might have happened to him.

The end of the evening came with questions from the audience, including the final one from Roger, a great journalist from The Seattle Times and the Los Angeles Times: So after all this, did you (Tim) return to the church?

Tim, now a “lapsed but listening Catholic,” answered: “Some resolutions, but I’m not going to tell you what they are.”

Time to read the book.

 

 

USA remains “team of the future” forever

Baboon on rock

In my last post, I had some of the numbers wrong (since fixed) but not the conclusion: Japan goes to the quarterfinals if the Scotland game is played and they win. They did, 28-21.

Scotland opened the scoring with their fly half running through Japan’s defense and it looked like the usual suspects would end up emerging from pool play. But then Japan put on a wonderful show of offloading the ball to open runners, going into half with a 21-7 lead. They added another try and conversion early in the second half before Scotland found its footing and scored two more tries and conversions. Japan held on for the win.

Speaking of mistakes, the USA Eagles made plenty last night in their loss to the Tonga “Ikale Tahi” (Sea Eagles), losing 31-19. The United States led at half 12-7, but fumbled away the ball on offense and could not stop Tonga’s well supported running. Nice to see Seattle’s own Olive Kilifi starting some of the USA’s scoring.

So the USA Eagles, often referred to as the team that will someday become one of the usual suspects in the post-pool play World Cup, didn’t win any of their four games. They were in the “Pool of Death” against England, France, Argentina and Tonga. I thought they had a chance against Argentina and Tonga. Not so. Maybe in four more years. Or maybe forever.

I found another baboon photo to post. It seemed appropriate as I am correcting a mistake I made yesterday, only one of two mistakes I think I have corrected in four years of this blog. I try to be transparent here, letting all hang out, as this baboon is doing.

Missed 20 rugby games to hang out with baboons

Baboon and baby

I missed watching 20 games in the 2019 Rugby World Cup to hang out with a bunch of baboons.

I thought I could watch the games on an iPad while on a 12-day trip to Kenya and Tanzania, but that did not happen. For one thing, NBC Sports Gold streaming service that I paid for is not available outside the United States. Should have read the fine print. Actually it’s in big type under the FAQ, but what male asks for directions or reads the instructions. Another problem was that my international calling plan from AT&T doesn’t cover Kenya and Tanzania. Then there was the spotty wifi coverage in game camps where we stayed. Missed hearing from friends and family, but a nice break from wars, presidential high crimes and misdemeanors and other worldly troubles as we spend our time watching “slavering animals and colorful natives” as Paul Theroux says in “Dark Star Safari.”

Well, sorry Mr. Theroux, but we enjoyed it probably more than you did in your endless bus ride across Africa.

This blog’s future posts will try to introduce those animals, slavering or not, as I edit almost a thousand pictures and videos. Lions, no tigers or bears, but lots of wildebeest, leopards, zebras, cheetahs and birds will come knocking at your door as one baboon did at the Ol Tukai Lodge in Amboseli National Park in Kenya. Kathy and I were dressing in the morning when the door suddenly swung open, and there, standing on his two hind legs with his forearms stretched in front of him, was our friendly baboon wake-up call. He stared, we stared and Ian, one of our traveling companions, said from outside, “You should lock your door.” A few yells and Mr. Baboon went away but returned later to peek in the window and eat a small snake just to the side of our porch.

Baboon in window

Speaking of simian behavior, let me tell you about some of it that appeared at the Rugby World Cup before we disappeared into East Africa. The last newspaper we read in the Amsterdam airport was the Sept. 28 edition of The Times of London (lovely to have a paper that covers your favorite sport). Alex Lowe, the Deputy Rugby Correspondent, wrote about the disconnect between World Rugby’s “promised clampdown on dangerous tackles” and the referees and players on the field. In the first week of RWC play, four potential red cards were missed by the referees. Two Samoans got three-game bans for dangerous tackles in their 34-9 win over Russia. But the suspensions came after the game ended when the governing body and judicial hearings used 28 camera angles and Hawk-Eye technology (whatever that is) to spot the offenses missed by the single referee and his two assistant refs (touch judges, as we used to call them).

Reece Hodge, an Australian player, also received a post-game “red card” for a tackle that left a Fiji player concussed. In his hearing that led to his three-game suspension, Hodge “admitted to having no knowledge of the interpretation of rules on high tackles and had not been given any training on it,” according a an article by Steve James in The Times. That seems to have left the Australian coach fuming. Michael Cheika said he coached his players to tackle around the waist and “we do not need a framework to tell them how to tackle.” That framework, he said, is for referees “to decide whether there is a red or yellow cards in a game.”

That did not work in the England-United States game where Piers Francis was charged with foul play after concussing Will Hooley, a USA back. For Francis there was no yellow or red card or even a penalty in the game. The charge came later, and as Ian points out, getting 10 minutes in the sin bin (yellow card) or ejected from the game (red card) forcing your team to play a man short, could have an effect on the game if referees called them. Given that the United States was beaten 45-7, England might have won with10 men. But in another game? Could make a big difference.

Also in the news of Sept. 28: Wales was trying to figure a way to beat Australia (they did), and Ireland’s coach Joe Schmidt said he “hoped to put more width on the ball” in the their game against Japan, according to an article by Peter O’Reilly. I take that to mean get the ball out to the backs more. It didn’t work. Remember when I said Ireland beating Scotland didn’t prove much about their strength? Losing 19-12 against Japan probably says more. Still hoping for the Irish side to take the tournament, but I’m not laying any green on that pick.

Emerging from Africa and reading the Oct. 10 edition of The Times of London in the Amsterdam airport, we find that Japan and the Rugby World Cup there are battened down as Typhoon Hagibis sweeps over them. So far, there are two people dead and nine missing from the storm.

Three RWC games have been canceled – England vs. France, New Zealand vs. Italy and Namibia vs. Canada. Each of these teams will get two points, as in a tie, in the pool standings. England and France are both going into the quarterfinals and the game would have sorted out seeding. Now England goes as top seed, and France as the runner-up. Italy was going nowhere in a disappointing RWC appearance, and New Zealand will go out as top seed. It would have been nice if Canada or Namibia could get a win in the tournament, but they will have to wait another four years.

Scotland vs. Japan is where it will make a difference. If that Sunday game (starting at 3:30 a.m. in Seattle) is canceled, Scotland will lose its chance to advance out of pool play. Ireland, beating Samoa 47-5, moved into top spot in Pool A. Japan, with 14 points, is second and Scotland with 10 points is third. No game, and Japan ends with 15 points and Scotland with 12. Japan goes on as Pool A runner up, and Scotland goes home.

This, according to Owen Slot, Times Chief Rugby Correspondent, would “discredit the entire event.”

“This is the very stuff of which World Cups are made; it is two teams fighting for survival. To dispatch Scotland from the tournament because of Typhoon Hagibis would make a farce of the event.”

Probably not if players, refs and fans got carried away by flooding rivers, but let’s talk important stuff here: Scotland got screwed in the 2015 by a bad call in their quarterfinal game. The RWC should do all to give them a chance in 2019, even though I am hoping for Japan to go forward as a team outside the usual suspects: South Africa and New Zealand in Pool B; England and France in Pool C; Wales and Australia in Pool D; and Ireland in Pool A.

So far, the United States vs. Tonga game is still on (10:45 tonight). Another rugby all-nighter coming up. And tomorrow, I will sleep like a baboon, as one of the African guides said last week.

Coming up: Rhinos and USA Eagles and “Ikale Tahi” (Sea Eagles).

 

 

Can Trump change the human species? If not impeached

While living in Oxford, England, in 2015 to attend the Rugby World Cup, we did more than attend rugby games. We also took advantage of cultural events in that university city. Museums, art exhibits, musical events and lectures, including the best Kathy and I have heard on Shakespeare. The question that came up then was: “Why don’t we do this at home?”

University dons and students don’t go around in black academic robes as in Oxford, but Seattle is no intellectual desert. But it seems we’re “too busy” to find our way to those events that would exercise our minds here at home. We have season theater tickets, attend an opera here and there, once in a while a symphony and visit museums when friends and family come to visit.

Kathy takes advantage of classes and lectures put on by Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. John? Rarely.

Well, that’s changing. Spurred by the memory of all we did in Oxford, we have loaded up on season tickets to plays, lectures, photo exhibits and book readings. By spring, we may start wearing black robes.

That means, as it did four years ago, the rugby reporter may get interrupted by off-field activities; scrums, rucks and mauls interspersed with things like:

Fenner

“Stories of Human Migrations,” an hour-long talk given by David Fenner from the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. Sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the UW and held at the University House in Issaquah, WA, the talk was one of many lectures and classes for those of us over 50. Kathy and I are well qualified.

Fenner’s talk made me realize that Trump is trying to change the human species. (Ed. notes: Fenner never mentioned Trump. I’m to blame for the spin here. Fenner supplied facts, and if they are wrong in this piece, it is because of my faulty note taking and should not reflect on Fenner, an excellent lecturer.)

Trump is going against the tide of humanity, which started migrating some 150,000 to 200,000 years ago from the Great Rift Valley in Africa – and it has never stopped no matter how many walls, borders and prejudices it ran up against. About 50,000 years ago, homo sapiens reached Northern Europe, where they found another species, the Neanderthal, which they interbred with (Did Fenner say that’s what accounts for rugby players?). About 12,000 to 15,000 years ago humans reached the Americas. Not until 1,500 years ago did they get to New Zealand, the last of the Rift Valley migration.

But it didn’t stop there. The Jewish Diaspora spread the Hebrew people across Africa, Asia and Europe, and the height of the Arab Wars took conquering Muslims from Spain to India in the years from 660 to 750 A.D. Four hundred years ago, slavery emptied 12.5 million souls from Africa and sent them to the Americas with two million of them dying along the way. Of eight million people in Ireland in the 1840s, two million of them left during the Potato Famine. One million of the six million who stayed behind died.

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 moved those who first got to what would become the United States farther West and further along the newcomers’ genocidal path.

Others came to the United States on their own, attracted by self-governing and democracy spelled out in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. And they were welcomed:

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent & respectable Stranger, but the oppressed & persecuted of all Nations & Religions; whom we shall wellcome to a participation of all our rights & previleges, if by decency & propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.” — George Washington in letter to Joshua Holmes, 2 December 1783.

With the world’s population now at seven billion, one billion of them are migrants – 250 million trying to move from one country to another and 750 million “internal” migrants moving to better circumstances within their nations.

It’s what the human species does; moving to where the grass is greener. The International Conference on Global Trends predicts an increase in human migration over the next 25 years, no matter what Trump says or does. Some will pick up on their own, like the 250 million (three-fourths of the population of the U.S.) on the road in China, once considered “economic” migrants but now also “climate” migrants as desertification affects parts of that nation.

Others will be forced. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that in 2018, there were 70.8 million forcibly displaced, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Sudan. Closer to home, those coming north from Central America are being “kept in a pressure cooker” by U.S. actions that will only make the situation there get worse with more people fleeing unstable governments, gang violence and poverty. I take that to mean: Increasing aid there, helping those nations keep their people. Trump’s idea is to keep asylum seekers there among those who have threatened them with harm. One more incentive to start north and take your chances at the U.S. border.

The International Organization on Migration holds that migration is inevitable and desirable – if well-governed. That is not the case in the United States, and getting an immigration policy that goes beyond the wall seems impossible with who’s in the White House and this Congress. Right now, Fenner says, we are a long way from that George Washington quote.

We’re all refugees from the Rift Valley, and we have “moving” stories to tell about how we got here. That’s the story of the human species, and we should be telling them to remind ourselves that we are a nation of immigrants and that our species probably won’t change before Trump is gone.

Fenner books

Fenner agencies 2