by Bruce Haring
Actor Sean Penn has decried President Donald Trump’s alleged attacks on Haiti. Writing in an op-ed for Time, he called Trump “an enemy of compassion” and detailed the nobility of the Haitian people he has encountered.
The two-time Academy Award-winning actor and founder of the J/P Haitian Relief Organization was measured in his response, but referred to Trump as “an enemy of compassion,” and “an enemy of the state.”
“The solution to our current divisiveness does not live in the White House,” Penn wrote. “Instead, we will find unity only when we recognize that in our current president we have elected, perhaps for the first time in our history, an enemy of compassion. Indeed, we can be unified not only with each other but with Africa, El Salvador, Haiti, Mexico, the Middle East and beyond if we recognize President Donald Trump is an enemy of Americans, Republicans, Democrats, Independents and every new child born. An enemy of mankind. He is indeed an enemy of the state.”
Writing on the eighth anniversary of the devastating Haiti earthquake of 2010, Penn detailed how he journeyed to the stricken island within days. “I still see the tears and hear the primal screams of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who lost family so horribly, so shockingly.”
But most of all, Penn said, he learned the lessons of resilience borne of that tragedy. Haitians who come to the US add to the country’s glory, he insisted. “They contribute. And there is no disputing the value they add to American society.” He backed his assertion with statistics on college graduation rates and the $1.5 billion in remittances sent from those immigrants to Haiti. “The contribution and spirit of these immigrants, as American citizens and as citizens who honor their homeland, may well be the greatest symbol of what makes America great — or at least of what can.”
That, Penn said, is what should be the focus, not Trump’s remarks. “He encourages the enslavement of America by a core minority of our electorate; he massages into them the notion that American principal lives not in the belief and sacrifice of their own ancestors or our country’s forefathers, but rather in their own pain, rage and fear.” Such language, Penn said, is “far worse than mere insensitivity or even nationalism.”