Having spent most of my career as director of the University of North Dakota International Centre, with the majority of my professional life academically working with international students, Fulbright scholars and study aboard programs, I am appalled by the president’s remark to four congresswomen, “Go back to the countries you came from.”

This outrageous racist, sexist, xenophobia comment later led to the chants at a rally in North Carolina, “Send her back!” How deplorable!

Named by Trump as “The Squad,” these four congresswomen were duly elected by their states to represent their constituents, many who are angry over the president’s current comment as well as his statement, “They’re not capable of loving the U.S.”

It was interesting to watch Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar return to Minneapolis with welcome signs in the airport and large crowds gathered to support her.

Increased security has been hired to protect her threatened life.

I recently contacted staff at the National Institute of Civil Discourse to question their position on these hatred language remarks. The staff women articulated, “We must revive civil discourse, our democracy depends on it.” Previously, the institute had addressed the president’s ethnocentric statement about immigrants who came from “s----hole counties.” Throughout the world these offensive remarks reveal a “dumbing down” of America that neither reflects our heritage nor our Constitution.

Linda Harter and Jim Herman had excellent articles in the July 21 Green Valleys News. I hope their brilliant analysis were widely read and the content understood. Our fore-parents worked hard on our behalf to create a country that was welcoming to all, humane, and culturally inclusive. We owe it to them today not to remain silent if we want to retain the values they embraced.

In the 1980s, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, author of “Night,” came to UND to discuss his book and the years he and his father spent in German concentration camps. He advocated this message: “Always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” How true!

I believe as Americans we are better than this hateful rhetoric. Let us join together prompting our conversations, discussions and arguments with integrity, while mandating a change in false rhetoric from offensive to factual and culturally appropriate. We have the opportunity to make America the great country we inherited from our ancestors. I believe our future democracy and upcoming generations are depending on us!

Sharon Rezac Andersen lives in Green Valley.

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