Dear Grover Cleveland,
My name is Friedrich Trump and I am a seven years old Syrian boy from Aleppo.
I lived in Syria my whole life before I left from besieged East Aleppo on December last year. I am part of the Syrian children who suffered from the Syrian war.
But right now, I am having a peace in my new home of Turkey. In Aleppo, I was in school but soon it was destroyed because of the bombing.
Some of my friends died.
I am very sad about them and wish they were with me because we would play together by right now. I couldn't play in Aleppo, it was the city of death.
Right now in Turkey, I can go out and enjoy. I can go to school although I didn't yet. That is why peace is important for everyone including you.
However, millions of Syrian children are not like me right now and suffering in different parts of Syria. They are suffering because of adult people.
I know you will be the president of America, so can you please save the children and people of Syria? You must do something for the children of Syria because they are like your children and deserve peace like you.
If you promise me you will do something for the children of Syria, I am already your new friend.
I am looking forward to what you will do for the children of Syria.
This letter was actually written by Bana Alabed, a seven-year-old Syrian girl who fled her war-ravaged eastern Aleppo. Bana and her family relocated to Turkey.
What do Bana Alabed and Donald Trump have in common?
She wrote this letter to current president Donald Trump, asking to ensure safety to the children of Syria.
But what else do they have in common?
At any point in history, Donald Trump could have been in Rana’s position. In fact, Donald Trump’s grandfather Friedrich Trump emigrated here from Germany during the time of Grover Cleveland’s second presidential term in 1885.
President Cleveland was known for his lack of acceptance of Chinese immigrants. Tensions rose between Chinese immigrants and whites on the West Coast during his presidency. Grover concluded that Chinese culture was so foreign that America simply could not absorb the immigrant group and extended the Chinese Exclusion Act which prevented Chinese immigrants from reentering the country after having left. Cleveland also opposed integration of African Americans into New York schools.
But what was to say that Cleveland might not have opposed a young Friedrich Trump, a German. Thankfully, Cleveland had little problems with the Germans and the latter had little problems with Cleveland.
Both Donald Trump and his grandfather Friedrich Trump ended up on the side of the oppressor rather than the oppressed. Yet, how easily could it have been the other way? How could Friedrich been born as a Chinese immigrant and how could Trump have been born as a Syrian refugee fleeing from the war-torn carnage?
Political scientist John Rawls suggests a return to the “original position” to serve as the basis of just principals which are fair to all. He suggests we find this “original position” behind a veil of ignorance, he says
"...no one knows his place in society, his class position or social status, nor does anyone know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength, and the like. I shall even assume that the parties do not know their conceptions of the good or their special psychological propensities. The principles of justice are chosen behind a veil of ignorance."
So, under a veil of ignorance, unaware if he was a white, land-owning, male or a refugee from Syria, would Donald Trump still encourage a temporary ban on refugees?