Reading time – 3:22 . . .
Trump is supremely adept at making everything about him all the time, about being center focus perpetually. Most often he does that by being outrageous, either through his galactic dishonesty or by his actions. Some are harmful to our nation. Some are just cruel. Some get negative attention, as through impeachment hearings, during which he can do witness tampering and complain of being a victim all at the same time. The cruelty, though, that’s the stuff that offends through all the generations.
Lee Goodman is one of the people who goes beyond hand wringing about cruelty and takes action. He has been instrumental in protecting the innocent children in U.S. concentration camps, including helping to get the abhorrent Tornillo, TX and Homestead, FL child holding pens shut down. He’s still on the beat. His most recent report about our national cruelty is reproduced below as a guest essay.
Note of caution: Don’t imagine that Lee’s historical references are hyperbole, because the things we’re doing now follow a well-worn path. Think: George Santayana:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
It’s time to remember, as well as to recognize that complacency supports that horrible repetition.
Until recently, our government allowed people from other countries to wait in the U.S. while their requests for asylum were being processed and decided. Now we make them wait on the other side of our border. Thousands of people are indefinitely stranded in places like Matamoros, Mexico, where I just returned from.
Neither our government nor the Mexican government is doing much of anything for these people. They live in small camping tents. They rely upon volunteers to bring them food. Clean water and toilets are scarce, and medical care is minimal. There is no work and no school. Our government’s policy is to let these people languish and suffer, in hopes that they will go away and that others will learn of their misery and decide not to try to come to the U.S.
Deliberately depriving people of food, sanitation, and other essentials of a decent life was the policy the Nazis followed in the 1930s and 40s in the ghettos and concentration camps. Over time during the Nazi era, what started as makeshift detention became large-scale incarceration. Dehumanization was institutionalized.
Today, child asylum seekers are no longer being detained in the U.S. in large tents the way they were at Tornillo, Texas, and Homestead, Florida. Our government has been building a series of permanent camps where children will be held. I visited an old WalMart in Brownsville, Texas where up to 1,500 immigrant children are being imprisoned. I also stopped by a warehouse in Raymondville, Texas, that is being refitted to hold 500 kids. A friend just stood outside a new prison that is under construction in El Paso, Texas, that will hold more than 500 kids. Other facilities are in the pipeline.
It took a while for the Nazis to develop their system of concentration camps. Dachau, established in 1933, became the model for later camps. What I saw in Mexico and Texas reminded me of something terrible. Our incarceration of immigrants is progressing along a terrifying trajectory. We are normalizing child abuse. We are perfecting systems that traumatize people. We are teaching the people who work at these prisons that it is OK to go along with and make money from deliberate cruelty.
I am disturbed by what I saw. But it is good that I saw it.
We have much to do.
Lee Goodman, November 12, 2019
Ed. note: Perhaps our national program of child abuse and human rights violations trouble you. If you’d like to connect with Lee, send your contact information to me at [email protected] and I’ll pass it along.
Finally . . .
Last Thursday’s post “What’s At Stake” is a look at the impeachment proceedings from a strategic perspective. That is to say, it was about the What questions – what will we be? – not the tactical How questions.
On the same day Jon Meacham, Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas published an essay in the Washington Post entitled “It’s the Wise Men versus the Wise Guys in Trump’s America.” Like my post, it looked at the kind of country we want to be – the kind of country we are creating. I recommend both as guides to what you see, read and hear about the impeachment process, because it’s too easy and of little value to simply be reactive.
Ed. Note: I don’t want money or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,
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Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.