Add Crimes Against Humanity by the President of The United States to our surreal reality in The Year of Goodlord! 2018. It took 75 weeks to get here, but here we are, building concentration camps for children.
A lot of other crazy destructive nonsense went on (as usual) in Week #75, but the catastrophic and heartbreaking separation of children from their families at the Mexican border marks a turning point in our history, a watershed moment demanding a powerful response.
Concentration camps for children. Are there four words you can put in a row that would be more infuriating?
The fury of the entire world finally forced Trump to abandon his family separation policy, with an Executive Order as confusing as it was ineffective in addressing the fates of over 2,000 children already imprisoned. After spending a week telling an outrageous lie about “a Democrat law” that “forced him” to abduct children (like he was the Witch from Hansel & Gretel) that “only the Democrats could fix,” he ended the policy where it began, in his office, boasting that he found a solution. That’s like bragging about saving a kitten from drowning when you’re the one that was drowning it.
Turns out they have no idea whose child is whose, or where are their parents, they never planned that far ahead. The smallest of these children have been dispersed to the far corners of America in the middle one of the night to secret facilities that even the local authorities don’t know about, not even the Mayor of New York City when the Feds snuck 230 small children into the Big Apple.
As chaotic as it is cruel, almost no planning seems to have been involved in this operation, and there are no official protocols in place to resolve the children’s status. Typical of the children’s detention camps is an abandoned Walmart partitioned by chain link fencing into small pens called “notcages” by their gaolers, furnished only with aluminum foil blankets and fear.
The week began on Friday in typical chaotic Trumpian fashion, with former Campaign Manager and longtime Trump associate Paul Manifort having his bail revoked for witness tampering and sent to jail until his multiple criminal trials begin, including brand new charges of suborning perjury.
Then China announced stiff tariff retaliation in Trump’s Trade War, followed by the European Union making their own plans to place tariffs on targeted American goods, sending waves of fear into American farmers and manufacturers alike, who realize that America contains only 4% of the world’s population, yet has risen to be the world’s wealthiest nation under the current trade system.
Trump took another swipe at the free press when he urged the employees of the Washington Post to go on strike and “shut down their fake news.” So incensed is Trump at the owner of the scandal-uncovering Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, that he once again demanded that the US Post Office double the rates (a crime) for shipping packages for Bezos’ other business, Amazon, and yet again falsely accused the company of tax evasion.
In keeping with his policy of dismantling what he condsiders “non-essential” Federal agencies by people like EPA Secretary Ron “Big Spender” Pruitt with his Cone of Silence and $10,000 (!) “tactical pants,” Trump proposed a merger of the Department of Labor with the Department of Education, cutting the government’s commitment to its labor force (almost everyone) and students (everyone without exception) in half.
Then there’s the monstrous suggestion to bundle all the human service and safety regulatory federal agencies into one “Super Agency,” and having the right wing dogwhistle word “Welfare” featured prominently in its title, immediately demonizing his own government agency and targeting it for being dismantled piece by piece.
That will free up the money for Trump’s proposed “Space Force,” a branch of the military prohibited for generations by international treaty. International treaties, however, are Trump’s second favorite meal after cheeseburgers, so expect him to proceed at Warped Speed.
Trump talks of “streamlining the operation,” as if the vast and complex government of a global superpower can be run by a lean and mean board of directors with a bold and decisive boss. You know, like those Reality TV shows have been showing us how it’s done. Things always turn out alright in the end, right?
Speaking of unthinkable things that happened this week, the unthinkable happened to Trump when Michael Cohen turned on him.
Hounded by multiple criminal investigations, FBI raids and allegations of selling presidential access, Cohen resigned from the Deputy Finance Chair he still held on the Republican National Committee, and from his job in the Trump Organization, then changed his lawyers and entire legal strategy from stonewalling defensive to tentatively cooperative and, most shocking of all, showed he actually has a conscience by publicly condemning Trump’s heinous behavior towards the immigrant children (a perfectly normal reaction that stands out for its rarity among Trump’s inner circle). This of course sent Trump’s legal team into a frenzy at the thought of the president’s attorney and hatchet man of almost 30 years cooperating with The Russian Collusion investigation.
Asked to respond to Cohen’s sudden and dramatic change of tune, Robert Mueller arched one eyebrow a sixteenth of an inch.
Little of which got the notice it deserved, what with the 800-pound gorilla of Children’s Concentration Camps in America hogging global attention and bringing Trump minions like Homeland Security Director Kirstjen Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of the woodwork to both deny and to defend this Final Solution Lite, with nuggets like Nielsen’s “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period,” and “We’re in the clear because the Bible was even meaner to little babies, and one guy threatened to cut one in half!” (or words to that effect by Sessions).
First Lady Melania Trump displayed a world class gift for passive aggression when she paid a humanitarian visit to the detention facilities in Texas while wearing a jacket that said “I really don’t care, Do U?” in bold letters, an act not even the most nimble Alternative Fact Spinners in the White House or Fox News could explain without making matters worse, short of speculating that she visited the stricken children only to drink of their bitter tears.
Especially after Melania turned it into her “Let Them Eat Cake” moment by defiantly wearing the same jacket for the return trip after it caused such an uproar. People tend to remember these sort of things for a very long time.
And speaking of making matters worse, for the first time since it was founded, the United States of America withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council, another unthinkable development in a week where the term “Tender Care Facilities” was coined to describe hastily-assembled secret prisons for babies and toddlers.
And the week ended with plans to fill military bases with tent cities of detained immigrant families as the administration once again scrambles to deal with a dangerous reality they created themselves without plans or stated goals, proper infrastructure, trained personnel (armed guards are not child care specialists or health professionals), lacking clear official protocols or legal status, and completely oblivious to the sheer magnitude of the evil entailed.
Perhaps the most frightening thing is how smoothly and quickly this whole operation went, with every government operative along the line unquestioningly “obeying orders,” and private sector contractors lining up to earn millions to transport, feed and warehouse (!) imprisoned children. How swiftly it all come together, even as sloppy and ill-planned as it was.
What’s a few glitches when there’s big money on the table? Fix it on the fly! Which would be fine if these were escaped cows being rounded up in pens and not human beings. Our most fragile and vulnerable humans; abandoned children, treated as profitable commodities, each child an income-producing prize its custodians are reluctant to surrender.
Bear in mind that these children and their families were not apprehended in Seattle or Boston or Chicago, but at Federal Border Crossings along the US/Mexico border, just yards away from Mexico. Why were they not simply turned back the way they came is a mystery. You know, “Thanks for asking, but no, you can’t come in,” that kid of thing? Mexico is right there! Why arrest them, kidnap their kids and throw them in makeshift jails miles and miles from the border? One can only hope The Hague is watching.
Everyone knows where this train is going, and it ain’t Clarksville.