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  • August 5th, 2018

SHAME ON THE BORDER

By Joel M. Vance

There is a poignant moment in the television series “Band of Brothers” when Capt. Richard Winters, the commander of a company of American soldiers and his fellow GIs engage a group of German soldiers in a firefight.

Capt. Winters is by himself when he surprises a German soldier whose back is turned to him. He raises his rifle and the German turns and he is perhaps 14 or 15 years old. There is a moment, suspended in time, when Capt. Winters as to make a moral choice. The young boy looks at him with a mixture of terror and hope- and Capt. Winters pulls the trigger. If this actually happened, there is no doubt it haunted Richard Winters to the end of his long life which ended not that long ago at 92.

There is no doubt that similar choices faced soldiers on all sides in every war since history began to record their bloody trail. That’s what war is—kill or be killed. It’s all about which side has the highest heap of dead bodies.

We, as a nation, are making a somewhat similar choice every day we continue to brutalize children at our southern border whose only crime is not that they have been drafted into an enemy army, but that they have been caught seeking refuge in our country. We are not physically killing youngsters at the southern border, but we are doing something equally as reprehensible— we are killing hope.

And yet, some 40%, of our population supports,fervently, every savage edict of our president. Many of them are evangelicals who claim, with a straight face, that Donald Trump has been installed in the oval office by God. He has, they maintain, been chosen by God to lead us. Given the often demonstrated perverted lifestyle of Donald Trump, and the evangelical concept of good and evil— not just a God, but also a Devil— isn’t it feasible that it wasn’t God who chose Trump, but the Devil?

What are we are doing to families whose only transgression has been to seek asylum in our country after having traveled in many cases hundreds of miles to get here, hoping to escape tyrannical cruelty in their home country, only to find themselves torn apart by the same sort of authoritarian tyranny that they fled to get away from?

The administration, which has separated children from their parents and sent them to what amounts to a fenced in reform school, has the audacity to defend this policy with the assertion that the separated children are really having a good time. Matthew Albence, the acting number two official at the immigration and customs enforcement agency, said that detention centers set up to imprison migrants are “more like a summer camp.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono a Democrat from Hawaii, and one of the few Senators with courage enough to be outraged and let the world know it, asked Albence if he would send his children to one of the centers predictably Albence fumbled his answer because there actually is none, To equate what amounts to a concentration camp with a summer camp is ridiculous on the face of it.

Is this what we have become as a so-called bastion of freedom? Are we now a country that does not welcome oppressed, believing in the words etched on the base of the Statue of Liberty? Are we, as evangelicals so fervently maintain, a Christian nation— in the words of the Pledge of Allegiance, “one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all”?

Apparently, liberty and justice for all, applies only if you pledge fealty to Donald Trump, and his increasingly arrogant and out-of-control border security troopers, and to that 40% of the population who think that what they are doing along the southern border not only is true blue American, but necessary to protect us from some vague, perceived threat to our national security from refugees seeking only to find liberty and justice for all.

It will take years and probably history books yet to be written to sort out the many injustices that have been perpetrated on these poor folk whose lives went from bad to worse when they got to the United States. Almost daily there are new outrages reported and the list is so long and so depressing that those of us who live in comfort and security should feel a national shame.

Kids in cages like zoo animals, parents deported without their children, children that the authorities who took them from their parents can’t even find, abuse of the children to include dosing them with psychotropic drugs— all these and many other outrageous crimes against morality have been happening since Donald Trump took office and began his campaign against anyone who doesn’t kneel to his royal presence.

We didn’t elect a president (well, I sure as hell didn’t); we elected a despot. This is a depraved man who in the manner of the crazed Queen of Hearts in Alice’s Wonderland, shouted “Off with their heads!” every time something offended her. We are in a sort of Wonderland without any of the redeeming whimsy of Lewis Carroll. It is a national nightmare unfolding at the southern border and the only way to wake ourselves from it is to head to the polls in November as an outraged majority and clean house.

We once had an infestation of termites in our home and had to have the exterminators come in and get rid of them. Another person I know is facing the prospect of fumigating his home to get rid of brown recluse spiders. The problem with brown recluses is that you can never get rid of all of them; you can only kill perhaps 40% of them. Brown recluse venom is nasty stuff.

It is a hemotoxic venom which, in the worst cases, produces necrosis of the skin and erosion of underlying muscle tissue much as does the bite of a rattlesnake. I’ve seen the results (though, thankfully, not through personal experience) of both types of bite and they are nothing you want to suffer.
If you can stand to watch Trump exhorting his slavering 40%, and think of brown recluse spiders and rattlesnakes, you can almost see the venom poisoning the crowd. We need a political fumigation and the only way to do it is for everyone eligible to vote in November to oust those who enable Trump and his execrable cronies from power. But it’s not enough for each eligible voter to vote— not only should you go to the polls but you should inspire at least one other potential voter who otherwise would not cast a ballot.

You can bet that the 40% will be energized by their collective hatred, and will be fueled by money from special interests. That’s what seems to drive elections these days— anger and hatred and unlimited money from people and groups who have no interest in the public good. Politicians elected to office that way are not likely to do the right thing or to oppose His Royal Lowness Donald Trump.

Most of what gets passed around on the Internet is garbage especially the venom posted by the craziest of the 40% but every now and then there is a gem and I am indebted to a high school classmate for the following joke which is almost too true to be funny.

“I met a magical fairy yesterday who said she would grant me one wish.
“I wish to live forever,” I said.
“Sorry,” said the fairy, “I’m not allowed to grant that particular wish.”
“Fine,” I said, “then I want to die the day after Congress is filled with honest, hard-working, bipartisan men and women who act only in the people’s best interests!”
“You crafty old bastard,” replied the fairy.”

All too true. We have a Congress that has abdicated any semblance of responsibility and any semblance of acting in the best interests of its constituency. The Republicans are drunk with power; the Democrats are timid with indecision. All are gridlocked in incompetency and subservient to the Criminal in Chief in the White House. The Republican majority seems paralyzed by the rage of the increasingly savage 40 percent

Of course we need border security. I’m not saying we don’t. But good security comes from common sense not from building incredibly expensive and basically useless walls and not from barring those who truly need kindness and caring. Try going to Canada sometime if you want to find out how border security should work. And, by the way, the Canadians don’t much care for us anymore—with good reason, considering that the Idiot in Chief as managed to alienate them along with the leaders of virtually every nation once considered our closest allies.

Instead of pouring endless dollars into building a great big dumb fence, why not spend those dollars on drug interdiction and coming down hard on the other border intrusions (like, for example, human trafficking). A recent story points out that the proposed border wall would be an impossibility because it would have to cross countless ravines that in flash flood time “(a fairly common occurrence) would wash the fence out or require millions if not trillions of dollars to maintain, not to mention the enormous cost of construction in the first place.

Trump cozies up to every despot that he can find. Birds of a feather etc. Cosying up to Putin, Kim Jong-un and others of that murder of political scavengers is not diplomacy, nor is it leadership. Donald Trump is a schoolyard bully the quintessential big kid who steals lunch money from the little ones, cheats when he doesn’t have to, lies when he’s caught, sucks up to the tough guys, the gang leaders, and talks a far better game than he is capable of playing. Despite what he thinks he is, he is not a leader. He is a cowardly sloppy big fat boy hiding his insecurities behind bluff and braggadocio.

He should never have been president and he should now be impeached, though he probably won’t be. The only way to rein in his paranoia and his unhinged presidency is to bring some balance back into our democratic system by installing a Congress with some sort of accountability and conscience.

And for those who think that God sent Trump to lead the country, consider that one young migrant child said that he saw another being shot with drugs and was afraid he would be next. Then there was the 15 month old baby who was forced into a courtroom for a hearing as if she were a criminal facing charges. 15 months old! She has taken her first step and said her first word while detained, but her father was not around to hear it— he was deported leaving behind his pregnant wife and young baby.

These are not isolated incidents. Children from babies to teenagers are being traumatized almost on a daily basis and any of the so-called Christians who think that Donald Trump is an emissary from God and who continue to tolerate such behavior toward children are not Christians— they are hypocritical deviants for whom the pit of hell is not nearly punishment enough.

On the other hand, the number of Christian denominations were active in separating Native American children from their parents and forcing them into schools—the historic equivalent of charter schools— so they could be converted from what the good Christians considered heathen religion to what the good Christians considered good Christian religion. And we all know how slave families were separated and sold during pre-Civil War times.

A Jewish poet, the descendent of immigrants, wrote some lines in a poem which have become famous because they are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

That is a lesson from the past worth remembering, not the transgressions against immigrants in our history and certainly not the transgressions being committed today by our bigoted and mentally and morally impaired president.

Just because we did it in the past, does not mean we should do it now.

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1 Comment

  1. Carrie J DeValk

    August 5th, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Reply

    Oh, gosh. Yes. Shameful. Everyone, please vote!



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