Admit it. As horrible as the Trump Administration has been, you never really thought they would resort to separating children from their parents in a cynical ploy to …. Actually, what is it exactly that they are trying to accomplish?
There’s little to indicate that the new “zero tolerance” policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Session has anything to do with either national security or immigration policy. What I hear in the defense of the “policy” and the rationalizations and excuses is that Trump and his fellow America Firsters are primarily concerned with keeping his political base in a state of frenzy. He hasn’t been able to build a wall. He has no chance in the world of getting Mexico to pay for it. His Muslim ban keeps getting shot down by the courts because of the small inconvenience of abridging constitutional safeguards. Trump has to show he is still their champion.
Administration supporters are all over the place in trying to justify what they are doing at the southern border of the United States. In some cases, they are just denying anything is happening there. As an old friend used to be fond of saying, “who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”
Trump has blamed Democrats although it is his Administration interpreting an existing law differently than any previous administration has. Numerous reports suggest he views the border arrests as a way to pressure members of Congress to fund his wall. His Secretary of Homeland Security, Kristjen Nielsen, gave a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” press conference that may have been one of worst disasters since the sinking of the Titanic.
Back in the late 18th century, Samuel Johnson observed that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” There are constant examples which Johnson would recognize from members of the Trump Administration. NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem should “leave the country” according to Trump. Democrats who refuse to support his idiotic wall are “jeopardizing national security”.
And now the Trump gang has updated Johnson. The most recent refuge for heartless, cynical scoundrels is the Bible. Sessions and Press Secretary Sarah Sanders used cherry-picked passages to support tearing children from their parents. If they had read just a bit further, they might have found words that support keeping families together and treating others as you would hope they would treat you. Just saying.
The right-wing media has done its best to support the president. Tucker Carlson on Fox urged viewers not to trust any other news outlet, confident that his station would not show any footage that might make supporters uncomfortable with video of crying children. Ann Coulter went even farther, dragging out what has become a conservative trope that the kids in the heartbreaking photos were really just “child actors.”
All those responses were disgusting but predictable. This really is the “Stepford Presidency.” While some Republicans have at last criticized the President’s approach to dealing with immigrants seeking asylum–which, it’s worth noting, is not illegal–most of them have remained silent.
If you spend time on the pages of Facebook and other outposts of the Internet, you’ll also find Trump sycophants offering vigorous, unqualified support for the new border policy. That their comments are often filled with factual inaccuracies doesn’t diminish the intensity of their views. I assume many of them would assert a belief in “Christian values” or some equivalent, but how is it “Christian” to turn away the poor, the suffering?
There is, at the core of this disgusting episode, a second factor that explains much of the reaction. The first, as I noted above, is a pure political calculation designed to appeal to a nativist political constituency. In addition, and even more disturbing, the President and his supporters are able to duck any reference to family values or humanitarian concerns because those individuals seeking asylum in the United States are the wrong color. Call it nativism if you wish, but it’s really more accurately described as racism.
We are at a low point in this country’s history. There are so many other actions of the Trump presidency that deeply disturb me and are doing great damage to both public welfare and national security, but the decision to use young children as political pawns is beneath contempt. If we really are better than that–a refrain you hear fairly often–we need to stop this abomination now.