It is hard to know what to say, but say something we must.
America is a great country – full of fantastic people with boundless energy and creativity. It is also an immigrant nation – born of wave upon wave of immigrants and refugees from around the world. Immigration and acceptance is the very source of its vigor, the lifeblood of the nation. As we might put it in the technology industry, immigration is our differentiation.
The United States remain exceptional only through renewal, and celebration of the capacity of those that have come to find succour in, and celebrate, its commonwealth. Immigrants work hard and create wealth. Immigrants are what enables a continual rebirth of freedom.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
We must today fight a brazen foe, one who for whatever reason does not comprehend the foundation of our nation’s greatness. The US Constitution is not a perfect document, but it does have a certain power. Its First Amendment is currently under direct and imminent threat:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
When news came in Friday of the proposed immigration ban on citizens of certain nations, with unfortunate and obvious religious overtones, we were horrified. As the weekend has gone on and it has became more and more clear that the policy and its implementation were intended to create chaos and sow fear and mistrust it became evident we needed to say something.
Silence is not an option.
Globally there are over 60,000,000 displaced people, more than any time since World War II. And today we turned our backs on them.
It’s important at the same time to remember that this is not about the safety of the United States population, in spite of what’s claimed. As CNN put it earlier:
How many terror attacks have refugees carried out in the United States? Not a single one since Refugee Act of 1980.
So what now? Lawson provided some clear actions to take:
Now, take action. Tell Congress that you oppose Trump’s ban on refugees. Donate to the IRC’s emergency fund to help protect resettled refugees or the ACLU which is already challenging the immigration ban. Share this NYTimes Op-Ed by IRC CEO David Miliband to spread the word.
As a tech leader and public CEO, I’m often advised to stay apolitical. But this isn’t politics, I believe this is a matter of objective right and wrong. Staying silent doesn’t feel like leadership to me. I encourage other leaders to consider the cost of silence.
This post by Fred Wilson is another important statement.
We at RedMonk cannot agree strongly enough. Silence has a cost, measured in the quality of the lives of the people that need and deserve our help most. We must make our voices heard. We need to march, we need to make public statements, we need to call, and call out, our elected representatives. RedMonk the company will be making contributions to the ACLU and IRC. Our employees may choose to do so personally as well.
We at RedMonk stand with people of all genders, races, colours and creeds. Muslims are our brothers and sisters, and refugees from all conflicts need our help. We are all immigrants here, and a threat to one of us is a threat to all of us.
As a small company with many clients that have government contracts it would be easier for us to say nothing, hoping the good people we work with do the right thing. But silence, as we have said, has a cost. To us, and to those our silence would fail.
Since 2002, our mission has been to help companies large and small do the right thing, however best we are able. Today is no different.
For those looking for silver linings, the technology industry finally seems to have woken up. With luck, this has reminded all of us of the world around us and our power to influence it for the better. More, it is a chance for all of us to feel proud of our industry again as we move forward. We must listen to the better angels of our nature and use the power of our industry, our skills and our dedication to fight for what is right.
In a sermon delivered in Selma, AL on the 8th of March, 1965, some three years before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King said:
A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.
The men and women of RedMonk will stand and be counted. We hope all of you reading this will as well.
This is who we are.
James Governor, Co-founder
Stephen O’Grady, Co-founder