The news media and my Facebook feed are full of stories about the horrific mistreatment of families and small children at the border.
Children are dying of disease and neglect. One seven-year-old girl died of dehydration--she wasn’t given enough water to drink! A four-month old was separated from his family. Hundreds of people are packed into shelters built to hold a fraction of the number crammed in…the horror stories go on and on.
The Trump administration argued in court this week that detained migrant children do not require basic hygiene products (like soap and toothbrushes) to be held in “safe and sanitary” conditions. Lawyers who recently interviewed detained children report that kids are living in “traumatic and dangerous” conditions – insufficient food and water, going weeks without bathing, kids as young as 7 years old being told to care for the babies and toddlers.
Our delusional and mentally-ill President has no intention of doing anything to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis he has created. In interviews, he insists Obama began the family separation policy (he didn’t–the only time his administration removed children from their families was when they were believed to be in danger) and simply denies what numerous reports have documented.
Meanwhile, rather than calling on Congress or all those self-proclaimed “Christians” to intervene, conservative apologists attack those who–like AOC–call these facilities what they clearly are: concentration camps.
There is no ambiguity about what is happening. The heartless people who are defending the documented abuse and inhumanity are telling the rest of us who–and what– they are.
“Fox & Friends”co-host Brian Kilmeade showed his support for President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” approach to border policy, adding that the migrant children who have been separated from their families“aren’t our kids.”
“Like it or not, these aren’t our kids,” said Kilmeade on Friday’s episode of the Fox News morning show. “Show them compassion, but it’s not like he’s doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas. These are people from another country and now people are saying that they’re more important than people in our country who are paying taxes and who have needs as well.”
Is this really what America has come to?
Are we really prepared to defend unforgivable and inhumane treatment so long as the objects of that treatment aren’t “our” kids? Are we content to be like the “good Germans” who wouldn’t personally have taken their Jewish neighbors to the camps, but who were quite willing to close their eyes and pretend not to see the atrocities around them?
This isn’t about immigration policy. Good people can disagree about border security, about the criteria for allowing migrants to cross the border, about the number of refugees America should resettle. Good people do not and cannot excuse callous, barbaric, inhumane treatment of children and families trying to escape desperate conditions–conditions that our country has some measure of responsibility for creating and that our ignoramus President has made worse by cutting off aid that would to some extent ameliorate the conditions they are fleeing.
This humanitarian travesty is being done in our name. And to add insult to injury, private prison companies are profiting from it. Big time.
For me, there is nothing worse than the feeling of powerlessness–the recognition of a great wrong that I feel helpless to address. Surely other people feel the same.
What would it take to organize a national strike? A day when only critically important workers (policing, hospitals, etc.) show up? Those of us for whom morality means caring for our fellow humans rather than fixating on other people’s genital activity need a way to tell our broken, pathetic excuse for a government–in Howard Beale’s famous words– that we’re mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it anymore. That we aren’t going to sit by while an American government perpetuates unforgivable behaviors in our name.
I’m open to other ideas, but we need some vehicle to express our collective outrage, and send a message. We can’t just avert our eyes.