Border Fiasco and More
History matters. Beginning in the late 1930s, German and Eastern European Jews sought refuge in the United States. They were trying to avoid a killing machine. Today, Central American women and children—and men, too—show up on our southern border, running from violent gangs which, with none of the Nazi structure, leave their victims just as dead.
The U.S. government said no to the Jews, mostly. That those in power came from the left side of the political divide insulates them not at all for me. That geo-political issues explain the decision provides more cover for the Roosevelt Administration but, as with the internment of Japanese-Americans, history does not honor the path our government chose. (For a balanced view—we did not do nothing, but we didn’t do nearly enough—read FDR and the Jews by Richard Breitman.)
Now, again, we say no. And, worse still, our government has adopted a refugee policy which separates children from their parents. We take toddlers away from their moms. In America. In 2018.
The president says he hates the policy and blames Democrats for it. (I suspect his path to his conclusion looks like an old Family Circus cartoon by Bil Keane.)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says Romans 13 supports the decision to separate children from their parents, showing himself yet again out of synch with his boss. Laura Ingraham, ever helpful, tells us criminals and their children get separated all the time. And who gave us this policy? Stephen Miller, a 32-year-old whose mother’s family avoided what would have been almost certain death by arriving here from Eastern Europe before World War II. Ahistorical, apparently.
Ronald Reagan reminded us that America thinks it’s the shining city on the hill. He stole the reference from John Winthrop and I mention that because, once upon a time, many people—many of whom thinks the sun rises and sets on our Dear Leader—thought Mr. Reagan was G-d incarnate, and that the world only began when we elected him. (Truth be told, Ronnie looks mighty fine these days, although the line from him to this shanda can be drawn with a pen and a straight edge.)
How’s that city looking these days? Not very shiny! In every way imaginable the Trump Administration and its fellow travelers tell the civilized world it can effing go to Hell! Why? We’re getting screwed, we’ve been getting screwed for decades, and we’ve had enough. Which begs the question for me: if we’ve been screwed so badly for so long by so many, how come we’re so rich?
When I was much younger—actually, about 30 years ago, when the nation debated immigration policy during the Reagan Administration—I thought we had a phony issue on our hands. We should be the home of last resort! Again, we should be the home of last resort! Emma Lazarus had it right about the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. That was my view then, and I’m unreconstructed on the matter.
Obviously, we need to keep bad people out, but we can do that and we succeed. (Save the anecdotes, please; statistically, very few bad people cross U.S. borders.) But with our bounty and our history and the ways in which immigrants figure out how to succeed in America, my view felt like no-brainer. We need people, as our population ages. We need friends. And we are the shining city on the hill.
Alas, fear prevailed. Fear about the Other. Fear about crime. (When my anti-immigrant friends get concerned about native born white Americans killing people with guns purchased whenever, wherever, and however, maybe I will engage with them about the fact that immigrants do not commit violent crimes at especially high rates.) Economic fear, notwithstanding the fact that government policies cause the rich to get much richer, at the expense of native born white Americans. Not immigrants!
So here we are. But for Rocket Man and Vlad, POTUS has pissed off the rest of the world. Now, he’s locking up decent people. People who travel more than a thousand miles to escape the horrors of Central America. People who thought they’d see the shining city on the hill. And taking their children and any ounce of hope they might have.
And about those children. What did they do? I mean, really: this is us! Can we sleep well, locking up toddlers after we separate them from their mothers? And does anyone think they won’t remember America when they get a bit older, and can choose to be for us or against us? National security involves, bigly, not pissing off people who can hurt us. Just sayin’, but I guess Mr. Miller missed that memo.
My but we’ve fallen. Fast.