Let’s be clear on this. The cruelty taking place on our borders is intentional and not an unfortunate byproduct of an ill-conceived law.
Yes, the cruelty is very much intentional. The inhumanity is intentional. The violation of every American norm is intentional. The reminder of the Japanese internment camps may not be intentional, given Trump’s problems with history, but it is clear and obvious to everyone who doesn’t go around taking about the amazing things Frederick Douglass is doing.
The unforgivable grabbing of more than 2,300 children from their parents at the border — some of these parents here to seek asylum — and housing them in what amounts to cages is meant to force bleeding-heart Democrats to the table to give Trump his ridiculous $25 billion border wall.
The separated children — at least 100 of them under the age of 4 — are hostages, just as the DACA kids are being held hostage to an insane, unnecessary campaign promise that will solve absolutely nothing.
Trump might as well be putting a gun to little kids’ heads until we give him what he wants and then, and only then, he’ll reunite them with their parents, if he can find them. The New York Times has a story up about parents being deported while their children are left behind.
From Jeff Sessions, we hear that that the zero tolerance policy is a matter of deterrence. They might what as well call it what it really is, as I read in one tweet — state-sponsored trauma.
And there’s Trump’s other move, which is to lie repeatedly and, of course, brazenly about the situation. Blaming the Democrats for a law that doesn’t exist. Refusing to admit that his so-called “zero tolerance” policy really is a zero soul policy. Acting if he is personally horrified by the situation but is helpless to change it. Acting as if the policy has any relationship to child trafficking. Pretending as if the policy is not his own and that he couldn’t end it in three seconds with one phone call.
I don’t know if this is the worst lie of the literally thousands of lies Trump has told during his tenure as president, but it must be the most heartbreaking. It’s so bad, in fact, that the Trump administration is at a loss as to how to defend it. You can be sure that, even in Trump’s America, grabbing kids from their parents is an overwhelmingly unpopular move.
In a tweet, conservative Trump critic Bill Kristol named three conflicting explanations for the crisis coming from the White House.
Trump: The Democrats made us do it.
Stephen Miller: It’s our policy to do it.
Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen: We’re not doing it.
He should have added this fourth explanation heard from both Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders: The bible made us do it.
ProPublica has released audio it obtained of children being separated from their parents at the border last week. It is excruciating to listen to. I feel so bad … for Donald Trump?
The audio is of 10 separated children. The crying is desperate. As the ProPublica writer notes in explanation, “Many of them sound like they’re crying so hard, they can barely breathe. They scream “Mami” and “Papá” over and over again, as if those are the only words they know.”
You can hear the background music for Sessions’ bible lessons.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration released video from one of detention centers so people could actually see the cages. You don’t have to listen to the ProPublica audio to hear the public outrage.
The critics of this policy are everywhere, but let’s try on this Washington Post op-ed by Laura Bush, the rarely outspoken former first lady, who called the zero tolerance policy that removes desperate kids from desperate parents “cruel” and “immoral” before adding that “it breaks my heart.” She, too, compared the images of children in cages to the Japanese internment camps, which she called “one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.” This would be another.
Melania Trump tweeted much the same thing. She didn’t blame her husband explicitly — she said both sides must come together to find a solution — but it was clear what she was saying.
On one side, Sen. Dianne Feinstein has written a bill to stop the separations. Every Democrat has signed onto it. No Republicans have. Not one. I watched Susan Collins, the Republicans’ most moderate senator, rail against the separations but say that she couldn’t sign the Feinstein bill because it was “far too broad.” She didn’t say she had tried to reach a compromise with Feinstein. She said instead that she and Jeff Flake have written the president a letter. Meanwhile, it took our own Cory Gardner until Monday afternoon to finally condemn the separations with a tweet, saying Congress, where I believe he works, should do more.
I tweeted this in reply, since neither he nor his staff returns my phone calls: “Nice words from @SenCoryGardner. Except he didn’t mention Trump could fix the problem with one phone call. Or that he, like all GOPers, didn’t sign Feinstein bill. Or that it took until today, with polling running well against GOP, to say anything. Maybe there’s more he could do.”
Maybe he could talk to Feinstein about how to make her bill bipartisan. Maybe he could admit that any outrage should be directed toward the White House. Maybe he could call for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen to resign.
Or maybe he could tweet out this AP dispatch from one of the reporters who was given a very brief tour through the McAllen, Tex., facility in question. The story begins this way: “Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets.
“One teenager told an advocate who visited that she was helping care for a young child she didn’t know because the child’s aunt was somewhere else in the facility. She said she had to show others in her cell how to change the girl’s diaper.”
This is America in 2018. It’s too late to be shocked.