America is a country with few deep-rooted natives. Nearly everyone’s ancestral tree leads somewhere else. In spite of this, the mark of foreignness is skin color. If you’re white and have an American accent, no one’s going to ask you when your family emigrated here — even though, without exception, every single white American’s roots lead overseas.
The truism that this is a nation of immigrants, repeatedly gets denied by a white America endowed with a sense of belonging which often doubts the capacity of non-whites to be full equals in sharing an American identity.
How then, can someone who knows no other country than this one and yet who is perceived and treated as though in some subtle or crude sense they are foreign, fully share in the experience of belonging that every human being deserves?
If at this moment of heightened xenophobia, we look at alienation through the narrow prism of counter-terrorism and only ask how just a handful of individuals become radicalized, we are likely to ignore the implications of much wider issues, such as inequality, cultural identity, and citizenship.
America succeeds or fails by one measure alone: its ability to sustain an inclusive society.
Donald Trump could not currently threaten this inclusivity were it not for the fact that that he speaks for so many other white Americans who have conferred on themselves the right to determine who does or does not belong here.
America doesn’t need to wall itself in; what it needs is fewer self-appointed gatekeepers.