Forgetting May Tear Us Apart, Colltalers
As the U.S. threatens to invade yet another country, a caravan of migrants lawfully requests entry into America. They haven’t forgotten our history, unlike the president. But while the amnesia is not yet total, we’re still in mortal danger when those at the top have clearly embraced it.
It’s disturbing that we’ve forgotten what lies led us to Iraq in 2003, or what happened in 1953 or 1980 in Iran. It’s alarming that Nazis now parade in Georgia, Germany, and France, or that some beg the military to come back in Brazil. For we lose ourselves when our memory’s lost.
When the White House scraped the nuclear deal that had been keeping Iranian hard-liners under a tight leach, it let lose a new nightmare on a region with no shortage of them: the Middle East. On cue, Iran and Israel engaged in vicious battles, over an already war-ravaged Syria.
Immigrants in the U.S. are now the ones cognizant to its history, not the modern Gestapo-like brutal forces in charge of crushing them. But if we can’t remember, we’re blind to allegations of treason, sex scandals and corruption, and hear only the thunder of official war mongering.
Instead of immigration, the ‘threat to the American way of life by foreign nations’ is what’s likely to be the favorite narrative to members of this under-suspicion administration, and gladly endorsed by what President Eisenhower prophetically called the military-industry complex.
It’s a familiar ‘tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,’ but not without meaning, as Shakespeare would’ve had it. Rather, the scarier part is that the U.S. is once again having us heading back to the brink of a nuclear holocaust, North Korea’s astonishing turnaround notwithstanding.
We all know who the idiot telling the story is, but Trump’s war cabinet is about to be rebuilt with three of the most notorious hawks of recent history, all christened this week by what many considered a war criminal, former Bush’s VP, Dick Cheney: John Bolton, national security advisor, Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State to be, and Gina Haskell, who may replace him as head of the CIA. What could possibly go wrong?
There’s a common, truly anti-American thread linking these four unfortunately powerful figures: they’re all openly advocates of torture, and if that is now half-considered acceptable is because they and others have worked tirelessly for the past three decades
to make it look like it.
With the push to make us all a nation of memory-challenged zombies, vulnerable to accept official history rewrites, few realized that no, the U.S. was never a torture endorser, not in the books anyway, and up to very recently, was a signer of every world treaty designed to ban it.
A neo-Nazi ‘SS Festival’ was held last month in Germany, about the same time when another was confronted in Newnan, GA. The ultra-right clashed with May Day labor organizers in France, and in Brazil, revelations about the role of generals in the murdering of opposition activists, during the 1964-85 military dictatorship, elicited praise on social media, almost as much as widespread condemnation and demand for justice.
To many, the fact that the use of torture by Brazilian and American armies, is experiencing such an unrestrained resurgence, is because both countries refused to prosecute its agents to the full extent of the law. Not for lack of evidence, just a likely misguided attempt to ‘move on.’
While the Lula administration and its Worker’s Party preferred to adopt a conciliatory tone when revisiting Brazil’s dark past, President Obama was said to favor a ‘looking forward’ view, when it came to war crime allegations. The issue’s now back, however, biting our behinds.
One last aside about a relevant aspect of this post, before it’s time for us to, well, move on and get back to our own tortuous business of living. Assumptions about what constitutes the essence of a nation, or how far or close are its democratic ideals from the unforgiven display of its history, may be either discussed at length or briefly. Let it be clear that the former is as impractical as the latter, chosen here, unsatisfying.
Speaking of ideals, the ‘Give me (…) your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,’ is now an intrinsic part of what America represents to the world. The partial quote of Emma Lazarus’ poem, celebrating the Statue of Liberty, sets to words a uniquely trait of the U.S. Constitution: the ‘all men are created equal’ principle, which made possible its unheralded success for over two centuries. A nation built by and for immigrants.
Thus, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ latest stance about immigration, full of draconian threats of prosecution and the split up of families, not only betrays the cruelty of his boss’s character but it’s downright unlawful. The majority of Americans has at least an ancestor who’s once knocked on our borders, running from persecution and seeking asylum protection. And by Lady Liberty, has rightfully found shelter here.
This Migrant Caravan arrived at the border with Mexico on April 29. Its currently 150-plus asylum seekers are a fraction of what was, at one point, 1,200 Central Americans. To say, as Vice President Mike Pence did, that it’s designed to break U.S.’s ‘sovereign laws,’ is a lame attempt to mischaracterize the very principles that made possible that people, like Pence’s own Irish grandfather, to immigrate and live and thrive here.
With the prevailing atmosphere, they may languish for months, awaiting permission to enter, and many won’t even receive it. Here’s hoping they won’t be forgotten too, like the ideals that have formed this nation seem to have been, lately. For we need them as much as they need us.
Whatever happens, though, they’ve already shown how to deal with one of Trump’s dearest ideas: the wall. As immigrants are known for their resilience to overcome obstacles, they’ve already won their first challenge: faced with that huge border fence, they simply climbed it. Cheers. WC