Tuesday, June 12, 2018

First They Came for the Migrants; Who Will Be Next?

“We simply follow the orders from above.”  That is the excuse/explanation given by border security workers engaged in the force separation of parents from their children, some still infants along America's borders.  The excuse is chillingly similar to that given by Nazi officials and even death camp workers after the fall of Germany in 1945. Simply because one is given an illegal or immoral order doesn't absolve one from responsibility. Decent, moral people say "no" and refuse to act. What is happening at America's borders is an indictment of every American who does nothing to stop these horrible and inhuman actions.  Silence is not an option, because silence and inaction amount to complicity. Guilt by association, if you will.  What's even more frightening is the reality that what is being done to is only the beginning of a campaign by the Trump/Pence regime to dehumanize those deemed "other" and thereby set the stage for legal repressions and others heinous acts.  The immediate targets of such immoral actions are brown skinned Spanish speakers, but the list of those Trump's white Christofascist and white supremacist base deems as "other" is lengthy. They hate gays, they hate non-Christians, to name a few potential future targets, and they see only themselves as "real Americans" worthy of full civil rights.  A column in the New York Times looks at the dying of American morality - to the extent it ever existed give the nation's ugly past - and the specter of things likely yet to come.  Be very afraid. Here are column excerpts:
The sci-fi writer William Gibson once said, “The future has arrived — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” In America in 2018, the same could be said of authoritarianism.
Since Donald Trump was elected, there’s been a boom in best-selling books about the fragility of liberal democracy, including Madeleine Albright’s “Fascism: A Warning,” and Timothy Snyder’s “On Tyranny.” Many have noted that [Trump's] the president’s rhetoric abounds in classic fascist tropes, including the demonization of minorities and attempts to paint the press as treasonous. Trump is obviously more comfortable with despots like Russia’s Vladimir Putin than democrats like Canada’s Justin Trudeau.
We still talk about American fascism as a looming threat, something that could happen if we’re not vigilant. But for undocumented immigrants, it’s already here.
There are countless horror stories about what’s happening to immigrants under Trump. Just last week, we learned that a teenager from Iowa who had lived in America since he was 3 was killed shortly after his forced return to Mexico. This month, an Ecuadorean immigrant with an American citizen wife and a pending green card application was detained at a Brooklyn military base where he’d gone to deliver a pizza; a judge has temporarily halted his deportation, but he remains locked up. Immigration officers are boarding trains and buses and demanding that passengers show them their papers. On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions decreed that most people fleeing domestic abuse or gang violence would no longer be eligible for asylum.
But what really makes Trump’s America feel like a rogue state is the administration’s policy of taking children from migrants caught crossing the border unlawfully, even if the parents immediately present themselves to the authorities to make asylum claims. “This is as bad as I’ve ever seen in 25 years of doing this work,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the A.C.L.U.’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, told me. “The little kids are literally being terrorized.”
Family separations began last year — immigrant advocates aren’t sure exactly when — and have ramped up with the administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting everyone who crosses the border without authorization. Over two weeks in May, more than 650 children were snatched from their parents.
The human consequences have been horrific. Last week, The New York Times described a 5-year-old boy from Honduras who had been separated from his father and cried himself to sleep at night with a stick-figure drawing of his family under his pillow. The Washington Post reported that Marco Antonio Muñoz, a 39-year-old who is also from Honduras, killed himself in a padded cell after his 3-year-old was wrenched from his arms.
Pramila Jayapal, a Democratic congresswoman from Washington State, recently met with migrant women being held in a federal prison, many of whom, she said, were forcibly separated from children as young as 1. Some had their kids physically torn from them. Others were told that they had to go have their photograph taken; when they returned, their children were gone. . . . “Many of them were told by Border Patrol that they would never see their children again,” she told me.
Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, recently visited an immigrant processing center in McAllen, Tex. Describing how men, women, boys and girls were separated and kept in chain-linked enclosures, . . .
These kids are being used as pawns to persuade parents to give up their asylum claims and to warn others against coming to America. The administration, Merkley told me, has “decided that treating kids in this fashion would influence the adults not to seek asylum. They would hurt children to influence the parents.”
There are still mechanisms in American government that can stop this evil. Last Friday, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, proposed a bill that would keep most families detained at the border together. The A.C.L.U. has filed a lawsuit on behalf of parents whose children were taken from them and is asking a federal court for a nationwide injunction to stop family separations.
But for now, what is happening is the sort of moral enormity that once seemed unthinkable in contemporary America . . . . There is no reason to believe that undocumented immigrants will be the last group of people deemed beyond the law’s protection.
Senator Merkley told me he asked people working in the detention center if they were concerned about the impact that family separation would have on the children who had been put under their authority. The answer, he said, was, “We simply follow the orders from above.”

The full nightmare of Hitler's Germany did not happen over night.  It started slowly and targeted powerless groups.  Most Germans simply looked the other way refusing to believe where things were headed.  Other Germans - much like today's white Christofascists and white supremacists who make up the core base of the Republican Party - cheered on the horrors.  Each of must decide which group we will fall into.  I refuse to be silent and complicity in moral evils.  Meanwhile, think about this: the "godly folk" evangelicals find same sex love disgusting and sinful and worry about pre-marital sex, but support this Trump/Pence policy. They are utterly evil in my view -  just like Trump/Pence/Sessions. No amount of feigned piety in church pews absolves them from such inhumanity to others. 

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