Nelson Ijih, a Republican immigrant from Nigeria running for Congress in 2020, has adopted the catchphrase “Make America Great Again” and changed it to “Make Oregon Great Again” (EW, 10/10). Is Ijih aware of Oregon’s shameful history with racism and white supremacy?
In 1844, Oregon mandated that black people attempting to settle in Oregon would be whipped in public 39 times, and that if they had not departed this would be repeated every six months.
In 1922, a Ku Klux Klan member, Walter Pierce, was elected governor of Oregon. Oregon even refused the 15th Amendment, which allowed black men to vote, for nearly 90 years.
This despicable past surely did not make Oregon great then, nor do I think the slogan could be used in Ijih’s favor now.
Ronald Reagan used these words to describe the greatness in uniting our nations and the strength our differences brought to our country. In current history, Donald Trump has built walls to keep others out, separated and instilled fear in people of color or any minority, and his ignorant behavior has encouraged white supremacists to make themselves known.
I am not saying that I disagree with intentions Ijih has in running for Congress, or the change he hopes to bring to Oregon. I am quite simply appalled by his choice of phrase that has encouraged a hostile and fearful current day in America.
Drop the word “again,” and just focus on Making Oregon Great (period).