Donald Trump’s executive orders targeting Muslims and refugees have provoked outrage and protests — and rightly so. As much as we deplore his administration’s attacks on environmental protections, these latest reprehensible actions threaten our most sacred values as a democracy. It’s not just particular groups that are being attacked — it is the soul of our nation.
You probably know that the Sierra Club was founded by an immigrant. John Muir arrived in this country from Scotland just before he turned twelve. Why did Muir’s father Daniel move his family across an ocean? Like so many others, he came looking for greater religious freedom. (Eighty years later, another Scottish youth immigrated to the U.S., this time in search of a job. She was Donald Trump’s future mother: Mary Anne McLeod.)
Immigrants — and refugees — helped build this nation. They also helped build the Sierra Club. Of the 182 people who signed up as charter members of the Sierra Club in 1892, at least 29 were immigrants, coming from seven different countries. Most, like Donald Trump’s mother and paternal grandfather, came here for economic opportunities, but several of our charter members came to the U.S. as political refugees — fleeing the violent upheavals of mid 19th-century Europe. Our country did not turn them away. It turned them into businessmen and university professors.
They were welcomed to this country, and they flourished here, because ours was a new kind of nation — one founded on principles of justice, equality, and fairness that are enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Although history shows that we have not always fully lived up to those values, never before has a U.S. president so openly, recklessly, and callously rejected them. Never before has a U.S. president tried to take our nation away from us.
Everyone who values a just and free United States of America should continue to resist hateful actions like this one, which is why the Sierra Club proudly stands in solidarity with Muslims, people of color, immigrants, women, and all those threatened by Trump’s administration.
We face many important fights in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. We will defend clean water, clean air, national parks, public lands, climate science, environmental justice, and so much more. But the most important fight of all may be this one: to defend the land of hope and dreams that welcomed a boy named John, a girl named Mary, and millions more.