What US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called a “zero tolerance policy” is, in fact, an unnecessary and cruel injustice imposed as an inhuman deterrent to Hispanic migrants and as a blackmail ploy to try and ram the administration’s nefarious and racist immigration policy down the throats of the opposition.
As I’m writing this, hundreds of children have been taken from their parents and dispersed to holding facilities all over the US, with no plan for how to eventually reunite them with their families, no proper installations in which to take care of them, and not even an appropriate system for identifying them and matching them with their parents. It’s important to reflect on the fact that, while this “policy” has taken sufficient flak to force the US president to reluctantly—and only partially—renege of the “jail everybody” order from the Department of Justice (DOJ), had such a procedure been implemented by some non-First World nation, it would have been decried throughout the West as tantamount to abduction and in violation of global human rights standards.
The process is authoritarian and immoral. It is traumatic and permanently damaging to many of the children who have suffered it, and the nightmare isn’t over yet.
From the outset, the procedure—if indeed such a horrendous procedure were to be implemented—should have been to have the data of parents and the children straight and cross-indexed instead of treating them all like criminals dragged in from the street and thrown nameless into holding tanks, for a “crime” that, until very recently, has been treated as a misdemeanor. As implemented by the Trump regime (if the administration insists on acting like a regime, then let’s call a spade a spade) the procedure employed is the same as under a number of dictatorships that I’ve reported on during my career in journalism. In those, children were often lost forever, or ended up not finding their long-lost relatives until 20 years or more later. From the reports of utter chaos and confusion emerging from the zero-tolerance policy implemented by Trump (with the collusion of his own evil advisory junta, Attorney General Sessions and White House advisors Stephan Miller and General John Kelly) this could happen as well to some of these kids who have been separated from their parents, caged, and then scattered like chaff in the wind.
Trump’s followers whom I interact with daily on the social media keep being offended by my references to Nazi Germany—mine and those of people like former National Security and CIA director, General Michael Hayden—but they’d better get used to it. Because that's how it's looking.
Dan Newland Retired Air Force General and former head of the CIA. He chose this particular photo because these tracks were where children were separated from their parents. Also, it's chilling that there are reports of children being removed from their parents at the Mexican border with the excuse that they are being taken to be bathed, after which they never return, since they are actually being taken to internment camps or "foster care". People in concentration camps in Europe in the Nazi era were also "taken to baths" from which they never returned. And it all happens gradually.
The other day two of my Facebook friends and former schoolmates said it was a “bad comparison” to liken the separation of Jewish families under Hitler to what's been happening on the US-Mexico border, because the US “wasn't exterminating anyone.” All I can say is, “Holy Crap!” Has it come down to that? That the “moral high ground” is defined by whether you exterminate or not? Is anything short of extermination okay and not comparable to the horrors of other wicked regimes, simply because the US doesn’t physically eliminate its victims?
And, anyway, as I responded to them, the answer to “We don’t exterminate,” should be, “No, not yet!”
No one seems to want to face the fact that democracy, as The Washington Post tagline goes, “dies in darkness.” People conveniently ignore the fact that fascism, autocracy, totalitarianism, or any other name you want to give to autocratic regimes and personality cult dictatorships don't happen overnight. I know. I've lived under both for a decade of my life. And you could see it coming. From the deterioration of democracy, to a personality cult popular dictatorship, to a declared state of siege and the suspension of basic rights, and finally, to tanks in the street and an elitist military dictatorship in government. And not only have I lived (miraculously, since I refused to keep my mouth shut) through those, but I've also covered several others, and the signs are always the same.
Nazi Germany didn't see fascism coming either. They just saw a firebrand leader (also with a bad haircut) who attacked the status quo and talked down to traditional politicians whom he eventually banned, to cheers and raised fists of his racist, nativist base. And before they knew it, decent Germans who were tacitly against persecution of non-Aryans ended up no longer having a voice, because it became okay to jail or eliminate them if they spoke out. Eventually, it even became legal to jail or eliminate them. So when you hear those who, like Attorney General Sessions, quote “the law” in carrying out heinous, inhuman acts, warning, they are the voice of the “legal but illegitimate” and the harbingers of de facto rule.
I feel sorry for Americans who laugh off these warnings and say “It could never happen in America.” Democracy only survives if it is defended, if people stand up and demand it, if, like the teen survivors of the Parkland mass shooting, they “call bullshit” when they see it. The truth is, that it is happening, right under our noses. The United States is courting the policies of authoritarianism and the personality cults of fascist designs.
The burning question is this: When you start having policies to cage children and to criminalize people because of race, language and origin, can ghettos and concentration camps be far behind?