EDITORIAL NOTE: In a departure from the usual TimeGoesBy fare, today's post has nothing to do with growing old unless, like me, you didn't believe you would ever see concentration camps in the United States. Second, I finished writing this on Sunday but things move so swiftly in Trumpworld that god only knows what will have changed in regard to the border crisis by the time you read this.
Here is the latest New Yorker cover from artist Barry Blitt.
It took long enough but at last, this past week, the U.S. is paying attention to the cruel, merciless and inhumane policy of President Trump's administration at the country's southern border.
Did you ever, in your wildest imagination, think that the government of the United States would snatch infants and toddlers from their parents and stick them in baby jails behind chain link fences?
How about all those teenage boys in tents in 108-degree F temperatures? Do you believe the government when it says those tents are well air conditioned?
And what about the girls? Where are the girls? Why won't the government tell us?
It was only after hundreds of protests and marches around the U.S. that President Trump capitulated and signed an executive order to end family separations at the border late last week.
And it was not until this weekend that a few members of Congress were allowed inside one or two detention centers in Texas. But no pictures allowed.
”The lawmakers didn’t know exactly how many children were at the facility,” reports Bloomberg News, “and complained about being unable to get numbers and other specific responses.
“They were told, though, that 26 minors brought to Tornillo had been separated from their parents at the border, and that three of them have since been reunited with their families.”
The Trump government doesn't know how many kids are in their tent jail? Doesn't know???
And that figure of 2,342 children snatched from their parents arms between May 5 and June 9 that the media keep repeating? What kind of number is that? How many were taken away before 5 May and since 9 June? Can we trust these numbers? Can we believe anything the federal government says about their zero tolerance border policy?
No one from the press has been allowed to take photos or videos inside any the camps. What is the government trying to hide?
It has been obvious for a week or more that when Trump's “zero tolerance” policy was enacted and they started grabbing kids from their parents, no one – not a single federal employee including the president and cabinet secretaries – had any intention of keeping records of the names and contacts of the parents and their children.
Why would they? If you believe it is a good idea to lock up children without their parents, keep them in empty warehouses in chain-link cages and not allow anyone in to verify who is there and under what conditions, why would care about returning the kids to their parents?
What else would you expect from a president who spends his time name-calling people he doesn't like, lying once every two minutes or so about pretty much everything, and is generally nasty in word and deed?
As bad as all this is, now the government will no longer split up families, they say. Instead...
”The Navy memo outlines plans to build 'temporary and austere' tent cities to house 25,000 migrants at abandoned airfields just outside the Florida panhandle near Mobile, Alabama, at Navy Outlying Field Wolf in Orange Beach, Alabama, and nearby Navy Outlying Field Silverhill,” reports Time magazine.
“The memo also proposes a camp for as many as 47,000 people at former Naval Weapons Station Concord, near San Francisco; and another facility that could house as many as 47,000 people at Camp Pendleton, the Marines’ largest training facility located along the Southern California coast.
“The planning memo proposes further study of housing an undetermined number of migrants at the Marine Corps Air Station near Yuma, Arizona.”
Does any of this sound familiar? Some people younger than you and I may not recall those evil places called concentration camps in Europe during World War II or that other shameful episode in American history of rounding up Japanese-Americans and placing them in internment camps during the same war.
Apparently there is no time limit for holding families in these new camps. The word “indefinitely” has come up in the discussions.
There are plenty of useful and humane possibilities to deal with undocumented immigrants coming to our country but this administration didn't bother to look into it. They chose the racist answer.
I'm sure none of this is new information to you – all of the U.S. and much of the world has been watching this brutal practice for days. But I don't want to end this post without one more comment.
First Lady Melania Trump went to Texas one day last week to see the children. She wore this jacket:
When objections erupted, a spokeperson for Mrs. Trump said it is “just a jacket,” no message intended. No, it is not just a jacket (price: $39) when a woman who regularly spends thousands of dollars on a single dress wears it. It is a choice she made, a message she wanted people to see.
In the past, I've had some sympathy for the First Lady. No more. And from the public response, millions of others feel as I do.
God knows I could be wrong, but I sense that we have reached an inflection point in the politics of the United States. That throwing babies and toddlers (even teenagers, in my mind) into detention camps without their parents has been a bridge too far for a majority of Americans and maybe, just maybe things will begin to change now.