We do not need the walls, America

Robert Azzi is a photographer and writer based in Exeter. His columns are archived at theotherazzi.wordpress.com.

Years ago, I moved back to New Hampshire to be closer to other family members, and to put my family in a place away from the riots that urban centers often encounter, in a place I’ve thought about after living and working in the Middle East for so long. , it’s all ideal – close to Boston, close to the Atlantic Ocean, and hopefully a sanctuary nestled in the beauty of the Granite State.

Close to where I am today, nurtured and inspired by my family, friends, teachers, and librarians.

Unexpectedly, when I returned, the past I remembered was the homeland of my emigration; I returned to those roots with perhaps an unrealistic expectation that things would be as they were when I left them.


I know and expect that free societies are dynamic and often in conflict, and it is in conflict and debate that we witness not only evidence of our existence as free people, but also from what we learn when we are with other people When they interact, they are neighbors, and they are enemies.

This morning, I took a deep breath before I started writing.

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For over a decade, I have been sharing my childhood, my fears, loves, doubts, discoveries and problems with you and the world. As a second-generation Arab American Muslim who is often told to go back to where he came from (note to readers: there are no direct flights between Exeter and Manchester), I continue to support and believe in America’s commitment.

Believe in the ideal promise enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that all men are created equal.

I believe in this commitment, as one of America’s finest prophets, James Baldwin,Notes from a native son>: “I love America more than any other country in the world, and that’s why I insist on the right to always criticize her.”

I also stand by this right.

For more than a decade, I’ve seen walls built, screens erected, communities divided by ignorance and prejudice – and it scares me.

I’ve never been so scared as I am today.

This is a scary time and I believe that if you are not afraid to be with me, not only may you be unpatriotic or immoral, but you may indeed be a threat to people like me.

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I was in college when President Kennedy was assassinated. I was working on Senator Eugene McCarthy’s presidential campaign when MLK and RFK were assassinated. I remember Fred Hampton, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X; many others.

Over the past decade, I remember Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery; and many others.

I remember the parade in Washington in 1963, the parade in Charlottesville in 2017.

But it never occurred to me that I had to remember that a President of the United States of America instigated an uprising on January 6, 2021, with the intent of overthrowing our legitimately elected government to remain in power.

Never thought that nearly two years after the 2020 presidential election, so many Americans would continue to believe or claim to believe Joe Biden’s election was illegal with zero evidence; would rather believe QAnon and Falun Gong/Epoch Times Americans who would trust American intelligence.

For a long time, I thought New Hampshire was different from anywhere else. People value not only freedom and self-reliance, but education and community. I never thought, and never thought, that here, as in the whole of America, not only would there be candidates for public office who believed this lie and slander, but they had a chance to win.

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Many are so-called Christian nationalists who use God as a weapon to justify the unjustifiable, try to use God to justify the unthinkable; try to dispossess, marginalize, threaten and build walls to separate those Fellow Americans who look, pray or think differently.

Some who have a chance to win are true racists and anti-Semites who feel their day has come. Others are power-hungry opportunists who never pass up any opportunity to profit. Some people are freaked out by demographic changes and want to build walls, some are just narcissistic, ignorant, people who hate complexities, people who never read poetry.

New Hampshire poet Robert Frost in his oft-cited 1914 Patch the wall:

“Before I build a wall, I want to know

i’m fencing or fencing

who i want to offend

Some things don’t like walls

That’s trying to put it down. “

“There, we don’t need walls,” Frost continued. What we need is fidelity to facts and truth, to the ideal promise that all men are created equal.


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