Sunday, June 23, 2019
It all adds up to something
What to do? How to react?
The most frustrating thing about the constant random, cruel initiatives from Washington—after the continual shock that this is happening to our country— is knowing what to highlight, what to dig in against. There is so much that is wrong, and you can't push in all directions at once..
Children held in inhuman conditions on the border? The no-brainer of all time. Of course anyone with a shred of decency is outraged—that's a given. But how can that be stopped? Getting into a pointless debate over the use of the phrase "concentration camp" certainly isn't going to do it. The Holocaust dead sure don't care one way or another. The Holocaust is an apt point of reference, not because the situation today is equal to it, but because it's going down the path, in the direction. The lesson of the Holocaust is that it unfolded while a pliant population approved or did nothing. It starts with one child. Then more.
What can be done that is not symbolic, but real, effective?
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids were supposed to start today nationwide, in 10 cities, including Chicago.
Punishment for their "sanctuary city" openness. From San Francisco to Miami.
Why? What crisis is being addressed? That would be Donald Trump's crisis in popularity. With the election nearing, and even his base growing restive over their leader's imbecilic antics, the president seeks to stir up his supporters with the only thing that raises a tingle in their blown-out senses—by playing upon their hatred for others, in this case, the immigrant, the foreigner, the person of color.
Never mind that they have lived here for years, and are our neighbors, employees, and friends. Never mind they have worked here for decades, often at the hardest, most grueling, lowest paid, jobs our society offers. In fields and kitchens, tending children and mowing lawns. Not to devolve to stereotypes: they are also students, entrepreneurs, senior citizens, veterans, scholars, poets, the same mix of humanity as anyone else.
A decent country would welcome such people. Who found their way here, leaving everything they knew -- their homes and families, nation and language. Who often fled terrible conditions with nothing but their clothes and their loved ones. We would embrace them and help them, knowing that not too long ago, almost every American was in their shoes, strangers in a strange land.
But we are not that decent country. Not officially. Not anymore, but a land of lies ruled by a cruel and capricious despot. At least we have a free press, so far. We can point in horror and say, "This isn't right." Trump has spat in his hands and tried to figure out how to pull that down. It hasn't happened yet, but if it does, we will be truly lost.
A grim moment in this grim time, and if the decent citizens of this country cannot stand by while these were occurring. This past week cities mobilized. Officials denounced the raids, offered assistance to threatened immigrants, and ordered police forces to not cooperate with federal authorities. Lori Lightfoot was front and center in this, taking decisive steps and speaking out against this "hateful" action, going personally through immigrant communities, handing out cards detailing their rights.
And it worked, for the moment. Trump, who is making a habit of caving in, caved in, lashing out at Chicago as he did.
”Some cities are going to fight it,” Trump said, as he backpedaled. “If you notice, they are generally high-crime cities. If you look at Chicago, they are fighting it and if you look at the other cities that are fighting it, many of those cities are high-crime cities and they are sanctuary cities.”
Another lie. The presence of immigrants has nothing to do with the crime in a city, except to lower it. Study after study shows this, and it makes sense. If you can be deported for a traffic ticket, you tend to drive carefully. Trump associates the two because besides being a bigot he is a coward, and cannot even own up to the hatred that so obviously motivates him, or at least which he plays upon to appeal to his base. He might not really even care, which is in a sense worse: a cynical ploy to appeal to haters.
There's a lesson there. Do something, anything, everything. All we can do is all we can do. Every pushback, every voice raised, every vote cast, every dollar spent. Each individual act might seem small, but it all adds up to something. It has to.