Friday, June 22, 2018

What About the Children?

The fact that the President signed an Executive Order to keep families together in detention centers along the border notwithstanding, I have run out of adjectives to express my disgust with this Administration. Evil is appropriate, but still somewhat inadequate. Perhaps someone can offer me a few suggestions in other languages...

I am not going to linger too long on the fact that the President claimed to have been swayed by the intercessions of his wife, Melania Antoinette, (who made a "surprise" visit to tour the facilities) and daughter, Lady Ivanka, because it follows that his own sense of compassion is non-existent. Of course they got to him--how else could he get to stage that benevolent dictator photo opportunity, complete with the not-so-subtle reminder that he reserves the right to continue to be an asshole if it helps his poll numbers?

Other writers/commentators have expressed with much more eloquence the range of emotions that one can experience while viewing these images. We can be moved to tears, or as some have so callously demonstrated, we can mock the situation. We can have compassion for these children, or we can cling to an ideological argument that allows them to be dehumanized. I took the time to respond to a particularly heartless statement made by actress Stacy Dash the other day via Twitter because these are children.

Not illegals. Not aliens. Not animals. But children.

I've made this observation in the past: that we've become so polarized as a nation that we regard certain children as more precious than others. But I need to adjust that statement to be more historically and intellectually honest since this isn't some recent evolution--it has ALWAYS been true. The Declaration of Independence referred to native peoples as 'savages'. The slave trade, both internationally and domestically, ripped families apart. The Trail of Tears broke a treaty our government made with the sovereign Cherokee Nation in order to provide land for white settlers. The children that resulted from forced liaisons between slave owner fathers and slave mothers usually inherited the right to care for their white half siblings, not their freedom. Poor immigrant children were sent to work in US factories and farms in the early 20th century to support their families (and note how the comments on these photos sparked political debate). Japanese internment. Segregation. Backlash against bilingual education. Muslim ban.

The litany of our past transgressions against others only illuminates the despicable nature of the current President's language, demeanor, and duplicity with respect to the "crisis" along our border. This entire debate about merit-based citizenship is bullshit, as if white people haven't perpetually moved the goalpost (or the border) whenever it suited them. Again, I am unsure if I can express just how offensive that arbitrary nonsense is to someone like me whose family name comes from the English merchant who established the British Trans-Atlantic slave trade (with the permission of the Crown). I have no idea if I am his descendant or if any of my ancestors were in the bowels of his ships, but some dude whose grandparents arrived at Ellis Island centuries later does not get to tell me to go back to Africa.

Whether he is calling black athletes SOBs for kneeling during the anthem; declaring that immigrants from shithole countries are unwelcome in America; issuing a travel ban to exclude Muslims from certain countries; banning transgendered volunteers from serving in the military; conflating asylum seekers with MS-13 gang members; equivocating on white supremacy and Confederate monuments; denouncing the Mayor of San Juan as a nasty woman for refusing to praise his belated and inadequate response to Hurricane Maria; or building his political career against the legitimacy of the first black President--this President has deliberately stirred up the same dangerous sentiments that led to the resurgence of the Klan in the 1920s. That speech he gave on Charlottesville last year was akin to Woodrow Wilson airing Birth of a Nation at the White House.

And then there is the matter of Melania Antoinette and Lady Ivanka. Ever faithful to stand by their despot (using social media to distract and feign faux outrage as it suits them), these two trollettes are the WORST. Honestly, who didn't peep that the First Lady's visit to one of those border facilities was going to be expertly staged, including that $39 jacket that she got from one of her minions? Trust that the message she intended to send wasn't entirely printed on the back of that coat, but what we need to be asking ourselves is whether she deserves anything less than our contempt. She and her step daughter are no different than the antebellum slave mistresses who tolerated those late night shenanigans in the slave cabins in exchange for life in the Big House.

I intended to make a point: these are children and families. These are human beings. Despite our history (and it is OUR history), this situation is a defining moment for this country to choose the right path at the outset instead of eventually. There are sides to the immigration issue, but this isn't a coin. These are children.

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