I am a U.S.-born citizen who married a Soviet citizen in Leningrad in 1981. For almost five years, my husband and I separated because the USSR violated international treaties and repeatedly refused to issue my husband an exit visa to join me in the U.S. It was a period of despair and fear, as the Russian military also sought vigorously to draft my husband and send him to Afghanistan.

I have had searing personal experience with a government that wielded absolute power, cowed its people through violence, stripped them of all rights, subjugated them to poverty through economic idiocy, controlled all media, spewed vicious propaganda and perfected the spread of disinformation through relentless, deafening repetition of lies that bludgeoned the listener, the reader, the world into accepting that lies are Pravda.

Donald Trump’s words and actions daily evoke that nightmare. I am shamed by his determination to ban refugees, his targeting of Muslims as unwelcome, his smearing of Americans as ignorant haters. I am fighting my own fear that we are barreling toward a ceding of our integrity and reason, that we may allow an unbalanced, unprincipled, uninformed, unthoughtful egotist to rip our democratic institutions to shreds.

Americans welcome the suffering people of the world because we are compassionate and because we remember that we were those same suffering people before we found our new home in America. We continually refresh our society with waves of striving, loving families who yearn to live safe lives and who work, never tiring, to give their children a bright future. We, unique among all nations in our history, must without any hesitation take in the people who have been bombed and persecuted, whose livelihoods have been decimated, whose families have been torn apart by wars and calamities not of their making.

Connie Justice

New Gloucester