Edgartown: With kindness and compassion

—MV Times

I am torn tonight between writing a typical column versus an open letter to Governor DeSantis for his inhumane political stunt last week. I’ll start with the latter and if space allows, finish with some other Island news.

First off, I am so proud of this Island and our community who stepped up immediately to help the poor migrants who have been so cruelly used in a political power play and bush league move on the part of someone seeking political clout and re-election. While there were plenty of comments along the lines of “see how it feels” and “you asked for it,” the vast majority of Island people stepped up to help in any way they could, offering clothes, food, bedding, toys — anything to try to make these HUMAN BEINGS feel safe and cared for. That is the Vineyard I know and love. That is who we are.

How did we get to a place where people are so cemented into their political dogma that they have completely forgotten their humanity? These 50 or so migrants, some of them children, are people! People seeking asylum and a better life. People who have come to this country and legally sought citizenship through the proper channels and methods. Because they long for safety and security for themselves and their families. Last time I checked, an awful lot of us are descendents of similar people, who came here seeking a better life. I’m thinking there would be a bit of an uproar if our ancestors had been trafficked in this manner, used as a political pawn in a stupid game of politics. How do you think Americans would feel if the reverse happened and a number of our citizens sought asylum in another country and were moved around to new locations, using lies and false promises? I’m thinking it would not go over well. And yet so many people are laughing about this scene, saying that DeSantis and the GOP “owned the libs.” And of course those same people are also jumping up and down talking about how the Island “got rid of the immigrants” and “shipped them off to be someone else’s problem.” I just can’t even begin to comprehend the ignorance of those who can even begin to justify this circus act.

If I were to get Mr. DeSantis’ ear, I’d make sure he knew that his cruel plan backfired. The Island isn’t the 1 percent. The 1 percent visit here and indeed, some of the super wealthy do live here, just as they live in areas of Florida and Texas. But no, Mr. DeSantis, the Island is made up of all walks of life, from the flat-out broke to the super wealthy, liberals and conservatives, highly educated and illiterate, English speaking and not, generous and miserly, kind and cruel. Martha’s Vineyard is simply a microcosm of the rest of our country with, unfortunately, the incorrect belief that everyone here is wealthy and selfish. Unlike your state of Florida, Mr. DeSantis, we are an Island and already have a housing crisis with few options. We already have a large population of residents who can’t buy homes, nor find rentals. We are losing “Islanders” at a rapid rate. You confused the year-round Island residents with the wealthy summer visitors, and you timed your cruel escapade midweek in the off-season so Islanders stepped up. We rallied and we rallied quickly and successfully and made those 50 humans … yes, humans … feel safe and cared for. And your stunt backfired and when it came down to it, your actions revealed far more about you than it ever did about M.V. Your true nature, your complete lack of decency and humanity, proving once again that you have no redeeming qualities and will do anything to win political clout, even at the expense of other humans, came through crystal clear. Meanwhile, M.V stepped up. We showed decency and kindness. We showed these poor people that not everyone is willing to use them for their own gain. Not everyone judges them for wanting better. Not everyone blames them for trying to start anew. Some of us, many of us, in fact, and in my heart I hope most of us, are kind and understanding.

Does the system need fixing? Absolutely. What system in this country doesn’t. We are broken. But under no circumstances do the ends justify the means. Until we work together, in true moderate and bipartisan ways, we will remain broken. Americans are supposed to be better than this. Years ago, Germans put people on trains with lies of jobs and housing. We are supposed to know better. You don’t exploit other humans to get what you want. You don’t traffic human beings. Want things to get better? Then try to be part of the solution. Don’t add to the problems. Shame on you, Governor DeSantis.

Martha’s Vineyard? I’ve never been more proud. You did what you do best. You stepped in where you were needed and made things better for these people and sent them on their way towards the life that they are seeking. And you did it with kindness and compassion. Thank you.

If you have any Edgartown Town Column suggestions, email Gail Gardner, ggardnermv@gmail.com.