Letter to the Editor: Shirola misses the mark on the 14th amendment

On February 24, Wesley Shirola wrote a groundless opinion piece criticizing the 14th amendment — the amendment that allowed slaves, my ancestors, to become naturalized citizens, and now, all individuals born on American soil.

The piece proceeds to outline the ways in which this amendment has been “abused” by undocumented immigrants. These people alluded to are namely black and brown folks, although Shirola was clever enough to dance around this inherent racism within his writing. The most shocking claim made in the piece surrounds the use of the word “malfeasance” to refer to undocumented immigrants who come to the United States seeking freedom, safety and independence.

The same virtues that the “Founding Fathers” that Shirola refers to in the piece prophesied during the formation of this nation-state as they simultaneously committed genocide against Native peoples, exploited Black bodies through chattel slavery and stole Mexican lands. To this point I ask: what, Mr. Shirola, is more American than fighting for freedom? Who is more patriotic than the immigrants who risk their lives in an effort to guarantee safety for their children that they were not afforded in their own home countries?

It is this harmful rhetoric that reeks of hypocrisy and white supremacy. The Founding Fathers themselves were undocumented, as they colonized a land that was clearly already inhabited. Yet you found no issue in the ways that they instituted systems of racism, sexism and homophobia within the same constitution that you’re concerned with. Perhaps because you as a white man benefit from them and therefore see no fault in the way that another community’s subjugation guarantees the superiority of your own. I will call your piece exactly what it is: hate speech. Your piece is no different from the Founding Fathers in the way it uses your privilege as a white man to spread hateful narratives steeped in racism and xenophobia, while vilifying the people exploited to get there.

You sat in the comfort of your white privilege afforded space, perhaps even somewhere at this prestigious university, while you wrote this hateful rhetoric. Do you even realize the labor of these alleged undocumented immigrants that it took for you to sit in the chair or use that desk? You couldn’t even recite this hate speech in front of the same faces that your piece demonizes, the same faces to which you and the rest of this country owe their lives. This university would not even exist if not for the displacement of the indigenous communities who lived on it prior, while the true undocumented immigrant colonized it.

You would not exist if not for undocumented immigrants. Think about that the next time you want to criticize the 14th amendment. To The Daily Northwestern: shame on you for valuing this hate speech and white supremacy over true journalism and fair ethics. By choosing to publish this piece you have decided which side of history you’re on, and it’s not with the people.

— Zaria Howell, Medill sophomore