Dystopia Journal #18: Anti-Family

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I mentioned in my recent post on the astounding hypocrisy of anti-refugee Christians that the U.S. has adopted a policy of separating immigrant children from their parents. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. This picture does:

When they arrest undocumented people in the country, or simply when a family crosses the border to seek asylum, the Republican-controlled federal government is choosing to incarcerate children and parents separately until their cases are heard (a process they have no interest in making quick or easy, of course). In some cases, parents have even been deported, leaving their children in custody alone.

And the government is building – there’s no other way to describe this – a prison camp for children in the Texas desert near El Paso. As of May 31, there are almost 2,000 children incarcerated there and in places like it. Some of the children being caged are as young as two years old:

Dr. Colleen Kraft, the head of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said that she visited a small shelter in Texas recently, which she declined to identity. A toddler inside the 60-bed facility caught her eye — she was crying uncontrollably and pounding her little fists on mat.

Staff members tried to console the child, who looked to be about 2 years old, Kraft said. She had been taken from her mother the night before and brought to the shelter.

The staff gave her books and toys — but they weren’t allowed to pick her up, to hold her or hug her to try to calm her.

(My son is almost two. I had to hug him extra tight after reading that.)

To be clear, because Trump and the Republicans enjoy lying about this, there is no law that requires separating children from their parents. Even if there was such a law, if the Republicans didn’t want to do that, they control the presidency and both houses of Congress; they could repeal it at any time. They’re separating families because they choose to – because they want to. (I suppose the fact that they do feel a need to lie about their motive hints at some feeble, vestigial awareness of how evil they are.)

The U.S. government is twisting the law into a terror tactic. It’s not illegal to apply for asylum. But the racists and white supremacists who are in charge of the country want to keep immigrants out at any cost, so they’ve made it their goal to frighten people who come seeking asylum – to do something so horrible to them that it counterbalances the fear of death if they remain behind in their home countries.

And because so many other cruelties and atrocities have been justified using this book, it makes a kind of cynical sense that they’re citing the Bible to defend themselves:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday used a Bible verse to defend his department’s policy of prosecuting everyone who crosses the border from Mexico, suggesting that God supports the government in separating immigrant parents from their children.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Ind.

I could imagine evangelical Christians who lived consistently with this verse, who believed a democratic government had to be obeyed whether or not they personally agreed with its policies. But imagining is all I can do, because evangelicals are rank hypocrites and always have been.

When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, or when President Obama and the Democrats passed health-care reform, we heard them engage in mutinous talk about secession and violent revolution. Suddenly, when Republicans are back in power, they’re all about obedient submission to the authorities.

As The Root points out, Romans 13 has a long history of being cited by white supremacists to justify slavery, segregation, every kind of violent and unjust regime. It’s very useful to tyrants in authority because it demands obedience for obedience’s sake, not because a law is good or defensible, but just because God says so. Sessions is no different from his white-hooded predecessors in that regard.

Do you remember the days when Christian conservatives labeled themselves “pro-family“? I do.

Obviously, that was never anything more than a label of convenience. They always meant it as a stand-in only for their own narrow definition of what a family should be. They never had any concern for same-sex couples, polyamorous relationships, people who cohabit without marrying, or any other kind of families that didn’t fit their rigid, patriarchal model.

But in this case, they don’t even have the slender reed of that defense, because these refugees are families that fit the definition they’ve always claimed to support. And they’ve made the decision to break up those families and rip children away from their parents – not in response to sad necessity, but as a deliberate policy of cruelty, aimed at the most vulnerable people imaginable.

What more is there to say about this, that it doesn’t already say for itself? What other evidence could you ask for to know that the people who do this are racist, black-hearted monsters? What further proof could you need of what a morally bankrupt religion Christianity has become?

Postscript: This Slate article has suggestions for immigrants’ rights groups you can support that are fighting the policy of breaking up families at the border.

Image based on HARRIS.news via Wikimedia Commons, released under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

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