By Tom Ehrich

How could a hater hate a Colombian woman who works hard at a Midtown Manhattan shoe store to help her immigrant family make it here? Better to give thanks for her industry and hope.

How could a hater hate a Japanese man playing a kokyu in Central Park, sending a mournful and yet joyful tune across a lake? Better to give thanks for beauty.

How could a hater hate young lovers of every sort – Korean, African, Russian, Chinese, mixed-race, mixed-nationality, same-gender – discovering the deeper meanings of life? Better to give thanks for love.

How could a hater hate life at ground level – one recovering alcoholic talking another off a ledge in a bank building’s atrium, a Latina interviewing a Caucasian man for a job, a black man working on his laptop, mixed-everything groups enjoying lunch? Here at ground level, people were giving thanks for life.

While white nationalists were trying out their Nazi salutes, people in the actual melting pots of America were getting along. Not just enduring each other, like snarling in-laws at an awkward Thanksgiving supper, but drawing life from each other. For reasons I don’t yet comprehend, the haters cannot abide tolerance. For what do they give thanks today: the accident of being born with white skin? Freedoms for which they paid no price but they would presume to deny others?

If nationalists truly aspire to be a “Christian nation,” they should learn what Jesus and the prophets actually taught: thanksgiving begins in humility, not in pride. Thanksgiving starts in being loved and helped along in life, not in macho self-sufficiency. Thanksgiving says to God, When I was hungry, you fed me, and now I share my food with others. You heard my cries in bondage and came to me. You led me across a desert to a land of plenty. You provided land, seed, water and companions. You loved me first. So now, in humble gratitude, I give back to you.

The haters who now claim to have a political mandate to oppress everyone whom they hate couldn’t be more wrong. America has never been built up by hatred. This isn’t a “white nation” or a “Christian nation.” It is a place where the oppressed of the world can find freedom and hope. My white ancestors weren’t defined by their whiteness, but by their hunger for religious freedom. Ours isn’t a nation founded on skin color, or European origin, but on escaping the darkness and finding the light of freedom and hope. To deny that freedom and hope to someone else is simply wrong. It is anti-American.

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