Curtain Raiser

After the Kids, They’ll Come for Us, Colltalers

1,475 children, held at the U.S. Southwest border last year, and forcibly split up from their families, are now unaccounted for. The admission, by a Human Health Services official, sums up the chaotic patchwork of immigration laws, and the Administration’s turn to draconian policies.
In other 2017-related news, at least 4,645 Puerto Ricans, not ‘only’ 64 as the president boasted, have died in consequence of Hurricane Maria. That’s 2.5 times the number of victims of 2005 Hurricane Katrina, George W. Bush’s second catastrophic blunder, after the invasion of Iraq.
For some time, many authorities in the American Caribbean state have been claiming that the official death toll from Maria had been grossly under counted. The Harvard University study released last week shows that they were not just right, but the grim figure may actually increase.
That’s a lot of people to die, or be ‘misplaced,’ due to extreme incompetence and lack of empathy. But as it was with Bush, don’t expect Trump to express remorse. Rather, just as Iraq still burns after all these years, the mostly at dark Puerto Rico will hurt for a long time, unfortunately.
As this administration continues to paint hard-working immigrants, undocumented or not, as mostly criminals and not part of what made this country so powerful, we all stand to lose character and perspective of what it means to be American. All we know, however, is that it’s not it.
While a comprehensive legislation

is badly needed, no one would bet that the president and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions have any grasp on the enormity of the immigration issue. Meanwhile, given ICE’s Gestapo-like tactics, those kids may be better off rather missing for now.
After all, even U.S.-born children have been targets of the current White House’s wrath, and we don’t mean only the Dreamers, daughters and sons of immigrants. It may sound like a generalization but non-whites are under a renewed attack in America, and the resurgence of white supremacy, and open hatred towards people of color, have proven that even two centuries of struggle for equality can be easily come undone.
The reality TV personality, who got elected on a platform of divisionism and cult of personality, and whose popularity is actually up among supporters, has an effective strategy to remain in power: demonize the vulnerable, shame the critical press, rile up the base, lie, lie, and lie.
Above all, Trump has shown an uncanny ability to remain the center of the conversation, while taking us all for a ride. With help from a compliant media, and a circle of clueless billionaires, in just a year and a half in office, he has sucked up all the air of American democracy.
While it chokes, our institutions, Congress, judiciary, useful think tanks and paid pundits, all take upon themselves to normalize and offer tweaks and asides to his cascade of malignant diatribes. As the nation around him rots, he goes on permanent tour, rallying the converted.
Besides, of course, the threat that this noxious equation will monopolize this very newsletter. But even risking redundancy, it’s crucial to keep on hammering back the president’s nonsense, which means, any debate about what’s appropriate to call it is just a colossal waste of time. We’re way beyond the ‘falsehood’ or ‘untruth’ stage: call it lies, lies, and lies, repeat it whenever needed, and let’s get on demanding the truth.
In 2014, two brutal kidnappings shocked the world: in April, 256 girls from Chinok, Nigeria, were taken by the terrorist Boko Haram group, and most have never returned; and in September, 43 boys were likely killed, in Iguala, Mexico, by the Guerreros Unidos criminal gang.
Both were cases when large groups of school children were used as tragic tools by a murderous organization. The girls, it was later learned, were forced into sexual slavery by the Islamic group, and even the fraction that made it back is traumatized for life. And the boys were marking the anniversary of a previous mass killing of students and civilians by Mexican military and police, the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre.
Nothing as sinister may have happened to kids the HHS considers it’s lost track of. Most likely, they were victims of a truculent bureaucracy, that abides by an insensitive set of rules, not by principles this country was founded upon. Inaction about the thousands of American students being relentlessly shot and killed in these same past four years, though, are indeed at par with what has happened in Nigeria and Mexico.
For as long as we deny access to shelter and food and education for desperate children, fleeing persecution, abuse, and U.S.-sponsored wars in their own countries, locking them up instead in poorly-run facilities at the border, we’re no better than those heartless assassins. We’re even worst than them if we also stand pat and allow American kids to be routinely murdered in their own classrooms in such staggering numbers.
‘In due course, each generation makes its own accounting to its children,’ said once Robert Kennedy, who 50 years ago this Wednesday was assassinated on his way to possibly become the U.S. president. Instead, he followed the heartbreaking path of his elder brother, President JFK.
Bob Kennedy may have been many things to different people, not all of them necessarily progressive in perspective. But at the time of his death, roughly two months after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, he represented all the compassion towards the poor and the dispossessed Americans the Democratic Party could then offer, possibly more. That includes being one of the few politicians supporting student protests.
It’s unbelievably sad that, in many ways, America compares unfavorably with itself half a century later. It’s not just that there’s a sociopath sitting on Pennsylvania Ave today, but many of the struggles Americans were engaged and fighting for then still remain unfulfilled at best.
The U.S. is now many times as rich and powerful, and its population is not just twice as large, as way more diversified and integrated. And yet, some 40 million were thrown at the bottom of the social scale, with some barely surviving, with no access to education and health care. Is that the accounting we’d like to report to our own children, right now or when they grow up to take over the world we’ve prepared for them?
‘This is not America,’ as the old David Bowie song goes. Or it is, but most of us haven’t yet received the memo to pack and leave. It’ll come, if it’s up to the administration, and the calls are already raging all over the country for anyone who don’t ‘look’ white, er, American enough.
There’s one citadel to be conquered, though, for those who want another path to this country: the Nov. 6 midterm elections. The first step is relatively simple: show up and vote them all out. Disrupt the process the best way democracy allows it: by voting. And help others do it too.
This electoral cycle is already in motion, so if you’re not in it, you’re already slightly behind, but there’s still time. Take the streets and populate the polls to fight for the real great America, of inclusion, social equality, racial justice, of empathy and of the power of peace. Cheers WC


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