Curtain Raiser

No Time to Stand Silent, Colltalers

Once again, the Trump administration is being universally shamed. But this time, its brutal policy of separating immigrant children from their parents, and worst, invoking the Bible to justify it, is enough to make even the most autocratic leader to look as compassionate as a nun.
That brings us to the World Cup in Russia and its awkward media coverage in this country. With Team USA out, it’s been hard to show Russians as fun, sports-loving people as they are, while casting President Putin as a long shadow over the U.S. president and politics.
The quadrennial soccer tournament that mobilizes over a billion people around the world, is in itself, a force to be reckoned with. For ages, tyrannic rulers and politicians of all stripes have taken advantage of its appeal. Futból, as every sports, often serves well political regimes.
Mussolini may have had a hand in Italy’s 1934 win, and possibly four years later, when it repeated the feat in next door France. Even the Brazilian squad that enchanted the world in 1970 was forcibly ‘adopted’ by generals of the military dictatorship that ruled the country. And corruption-ridden FIFA, the sport’s governing body, is still at it, as shown by how it granted the cup’s next edition to the cruel Qatar regime.
These are such dark times, though, that even the best example of sports as metaphor to the power of equality over prejudice is half forgotten today. When black American runner Jesse Owens won the 1936 Berlin Games, he indeed humiliated Hitler, the Nazis and their white supremacy credo.
To be fair, there’s been a backlash of sorts, not to the game itself, which is ever improving, both athletically and commercially. It does need both to compete with other giant U.S. sport franchises. But it’s exactly this intersection of power and money that’s cut down part of its popular appeal. Speaking of Italy, which has also not qualified, and soccer-crazy Brazil, this cooling effect is all but palpable. Cue in the media, then.
In Italy, a perennial candidate to win, political turmoil may be affecting, perhaps not coincidentally, ratings for the games which are reaching new lows. With that, as the host nation is not expected to go all the way, record five-times winners Brazilians are likely to watch as their tormentor Germany equals their record. No wonder media giant Globo, crucial government partner, is airing promos non stop, to little effect.
Brazil, shattered by a process of dismantling of its young democracy, is reflecting an unusual apathy towards the Seleção, the national team, once a source of pride that, much to Brazilian disappointment, suffered a historic, and most embarrassing, loss to Germany. It happened when the country was hosting its second ever cup,
and may have been too much to bear. But underlying this feeling of defeat there’s a deeper grief.
As it turned out, that dismantling it’s been orchestrated by the same political forces that had spent a generation being consistently beaten in the polls. In just a couple of years, a specially inane political elite drove the 6th world economy to a reentry into the U.N. Map of Hunger.
Only the Trump administration’s take on immigration, though, to make citing Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and under-dictatorship Brazil, seem within an appropriate context. Worst, how it’s being discussed in America today arguably gives such link an even stronger taint.
The president, however, is only following through on his campaign promises, and we can’t say we haven’t been warned. Trump was elected on one of the most xenophobic and prejudice-suffused presidential platform towards immigrants ever articulated by a U.S. candidate.
From the get go, for what appears to have been a long time but it’s actually just a couple of years back, he’s been ostensibly fueling some of the worst sentiments toward foreigners, people of color, sex minorities, and above – or below – everything and everybody else, the country’s poor.
And yet, either for political expediency, or hostility to Hillary Clinton, he’s sailed through unscathed, and up to today, hasn’t been effectively confronted by the political elites. Real opposition to this administration has come directly by those it’s invested in hurting. If anyone believes in a Democratic comeback win in November, without supporting these oppressed segments right now, there’s a bridge we’d like to sell them.
Just Friday, despite the disturbing revelation that, between April and May, nearly 2,000 immigrant children have been separated from their parents, Trump made clear that no policy will be changed. That is, if he can’t find funding for his nonsense ideas of border enforcement.
Such conservative figure, if traced back to 2017, puts the number of children who’re in jail in America in hundreds of thousands, a record we should all be ashamed of willingly or unwittingly, partaking. It places us along some of the most cruel regimes in world, at any time in history.
What makes it even more somber such reality is that, unlike most countries, the U.S. was founded on an ideal of equanimity, expressed on the letter of a constitution like no other. The bloody destruction of native peoples notwithstanding, beyond a moral choice, it’s a commitment made to the world, of which it became a leader, to welcome aliens as its own sons and daughters and let them build a nation for everyone.
But where are the opposition politicians, if not for a few? Where are the constitutionalist activists raising voices? Where are the advocates of third parties, always at hand during tight presidential contests? They’re certainly not joining in with the Poor People’s Campaign, harassed and arrested every week. Not with students survivors of school massacres, and not at women’s marches and labor rallies. And they hope to win?
The immoral and unjustified policy of using kids as political leverage will only be stopped by concerning parents, engaged educators, human rights defenders, victims of racial and sex discrimination, the young and any American who won’t stand for this travesty against what we are.
History judges harshly those who keep silent and unmoved by injustice and oppression. As for the World Cup, we’ve been infected long ago, I’m afraid, and no level of political dissatisfaction will keep us from getting up and insanely screaming Gooooooall. Welcome Mr. Heat. Ciao WC


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