In Our Outrage Over Trump and Putin, Don’t Forget Immigrant Families

In Our Outrage Over Trump and Putin, Don’t Forget Immigrant Families July 17, 2018

I’m about to write something that may irritate quite a few people, left and right:

 I do not think treason is, necessarily, something that is always bad. If I hear that someone committed treason, I would be wary of making a moral judgment until I heard what that person had committed treason against – and why. In arguments about the Confederacy, for instance, it’s not their treason against the Union that is problematic for me. Had the Union declared that “all states must be slave states” – treason against it would be morally just. Treason for the sake of keeping human beings as chattel, however, is non-negotiably morally horrible.

 So in the conversations about Trump, Putin, Russia, and US intelligence, we need to be wary, I think, about focusing exclusively on the possibility of treason, while forgetting all the substantive ways in which Trump has proven himself unfit to lead even a camping expedition.

 This is not to say that Russian interference isn’t very serious, nor that whatever dirt Putin has on Trump’s family is probably dirty dirt indeed, nor that Putin isn’t a murderous tyrant, nor that people who adore him aren’t in the throes of moral delusion. It is indeed significant that Trump, who boasts constantly of his own strength and stamina, lacks the spine to stand up to a genuinely effective dictator. But the central issue here is not best couched within a return to a political narrative dominated by a power-struggle between the US and Russia. We don’t need additional hawkishness, for one thing. And for another, it’s not like we’re “the good guys.”

 If it turns out that Trump can be impeached on account of “treasonous conduct” with Putin, excellent. But that alone will not resolve the issues we now face, including the fact that the majority of the Republican party has proven itself perfectly willing to ally with evil for the sake of retaining their grip on power, and that we now have a sizable portion of the population so brainwashed in the Cult of Trump, they are unlikely to unhitch their wagons from his falling star. This means continuing to manufacture excuses for any number of moral infamies, including the policy of punitive kidnapping of children from asylum-seeking refugees.

 IN the midst of our national outcry and debate over the Trump / Putin thing, let’s not forget about these families.

Let’s not forget that the reason we decided to resist Trump in the first place is not that he is anti-American or a traitor, but that he represents what have always been the worst things about us: our racism, nationalism, worship of violence, toxic masculinity, and acceptance of rape culture. What we are doing now to immigrant families are things we have done before, in the Japanese internment camps, and to the Native families whose land we stole, and whose children we kidnapped, in the name of supremacy and under the guise of “assimilation.”

 Children are being kept in inhumane conditions, traumatized for life. Their parents are too grief-stricken even to be able to go through the elaborate legal procedures set up deliberately to punish them.

 I can hardly endure reading about what these families are going through, imagining that it could as easily happen to me, and to my own children. And knowing how many good, fine, upstanding Christians would turn a blind eye and go back to posting puppy memes. I look at my own six-year-old, playing with his dinosaurs, and can’t imagine how I would react if, after trekking long and dangerous miles to save him from violence, I would find him being forcibly taken from me by government agents. All my old “Sophie’s Choice” nightmares come back to me. How could you live from minute to minute, not knowing where your child is, what is happening to him? Whether you will ever see her again? Whether he is even alive?

What the US government is doing to these families is intrinsically evil.

We must not let them disappear and be forgotten. We work to Resist not for the sake of power or prestige, and certainly not for money, but to protect the vulnerable and marginalized among us. That’s why we need to get out and vote, help keep people informed, involve ourselves in protests and activism. We can assist these families right now by helping fundraise to give them legal aid. The organization Immigrant Families Together is working to free incarcerated women and reunite them with their children, and you can make a difference by donating to their work.

 Yes, it is important to know what is happening on the global stage right now, but if we don’t continue to work to protect the innocent, the entire point of our resistance vanishes.

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