Many of us cried listening to it: an audio recording of migrant children crying for their parents at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility. Obtained by ProPublica, it was played on the House floor by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) on June 22. I appreciate his defiance of the presiding officer. We are in a pitched battle for truth.
There is no crisis on our southern border except the ripping apart of migrant families by our president. His relentless lies about immigrants are to inflame his white nationalist base, who will not accept America’s founding creed that we are all created equal. His “zero tolerance” policy, which he falsely blamed on Democrats, is both cruel and incompetent. His tweet that immigrants are an infestation carries echoes of Hutus calling Tutsis cockroaches during the run-up to the Rwandan genocide.
Speaking of which, if you don’t like Holocaust comparisons, don’t take children from their parents while claiming that you’re giving them baths. If you don’t like slavery comparisons, don’t tear babies from their mother’s breasts. If you have a soul, don’t say “Wah wah” like former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski about a girl with Down syndrome being taken from her parents.
Trump’s tribemates, as they imagine themselves, double down in his defense, even as people across the spectrum denounce his use of children as political hostages. Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on June 20, “The number of families that are posing as families has quadrupled trying to cross our borders. So you’re having people who are doing human trafficking, terrorists, and cartel members.” Hayes requested evidence; Marshall said it was for Hayes to investigate.
While we’re in the gutter, it is high time the media stopped facilitating the spread of fabrications.
On June 23, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee tweeted a purported photo of MS-13 gang members with the caption, “Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee for the take back of the House.” Trump’s claim that Pelosi “came out in favor of MS-13” has been rated as false by PolitiFact.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who defended the right of bakers to refuse service to gay customers, tweeted of a Virginia restauranteur who asked her to leave, “Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.” As with her insults of reporters at White House press briefings?
Trump on June 22 used families of murder victims to slander immigrants, despite immigrants having a lower crime rate than native-born Americans. We should be focusing on home-grown terrorists like Dylann Roof, the racist who murdered nine African Americans at a Bible study class in Charleston in 2015. Instead, Trump cherry-picks crimes by brown people.
On the aforementioned audio, amid children crying for “Mami” and “Papá,” 6-year-old Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid is heard saying that she memorized her aunt’s phone number and insisting she be allowed to call her. The composure of this brave little girl should shame us into demanding answers regarding those who cannot provide such information.
Conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan urges us to cave: “[G]ive him his fucking wall. He won the election. He is owed this.” Setting aside the likelihood of the wall being a $70 billion boondoggle, and evidence that the president was installed by vote suppression and Russian meddling, we owe him nothing. As long as our constitution guarantees due process, and a “mighty woman with a torch” stands in New York harbor, we owe liberty and justice to all – including Alejandra, a Salvadoran trans activist at the Cibola detention center in New Mexico.
Another conservative columnist, George F. Will, urges “independents and temperate Republicans” to vote against congressional Republicans in November. Will is right. Democratic majorities in Congress are needed to curb 45’s destructive impulses. If we fail to ensure a blue wave, we may not get another chance.
Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at [email protected].
Copyright © 2018 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.