For 15 years, Time Goes By has reported on and contemplated aspects of age and ageing, expanding that topic two years ago to include a terminal diagnosis, something that afflicts elders in greater numbers than other age groups.
A month or two ago, I strayed from that topic for one day to give us a chance to talk about the horror that is the executive branch of the U.S. government. I've lost count of how many times I have thought Trump et al could do no worse. I was wrong.
According to a variety of sources, our government is currently keeping hundreds of children – infants, some of them – in cages without adequate food or water and without soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and showers. For days. To sleep, the children lie on concrete floors in their own filth covered only by alumfoil blankets.
This is so far beyond the pale, I think we who are old enough to remember and who know a concentration camp when we see one, need to have a say.
In case you missed it on the news this past week, this is a clip from a hearing in which a Department of Justice lawyer, Sarah Fabian, tries to argue that toothbrushes and soap are not required to be provided to detainees:
(It is worth noting that one of the judges at that hearing, A. Wallace Tashima, an American-born (1934) Japanese, spent World War II with his family in Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona. I suspect he has a reasonably good idea of what a concentration camp is.)
Earlier this week, a father and his two-year-old daughter were drowned while trying to cross the Rio Grande River into the U.S. Here is a video with the story of what happened:
Is it possible not to weep watching that video? Every day when Trump unleashes another sadistic horror, is it possible not to weep?
When you're in your comfortable home, small or large, having showered, put on clean clothing and now sit reading news on your tablet, laptop or desktop maybe while drinking coffee or tea, is it possible not to weep?
There is a reason the federal government does not allow cameras, cell phones and, most of the time, reporters themselves inside the buildings and tents that hold these children in unspeakable conditions.
A week ago in The New Yorker magazine, Russian-American journalist, Masha Gessen, made note of Representative Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez's (OAC) tweet reference to the facilities holding these children as “concentration camps.”
Uproar ensued at the expense of OAC but she stood her ground. The next day, according to Gessen's New Yorker story, OAC tweeted that
”Andrea Pitzer, a historian of concentration camps, was quoted making the same assertion: that the United States has created a 'concentration camp system.' Pitzer argued that 'mass detention of civilians without a trial' was what made the camps concentration camps.”
What followed, for days, were editorials and op-eds on the subject of calling these detention centers “concentration camps” followed by more attacks and counter-attacks.
In her New Yorker piece, Masha Gessen has some interesting things to say about this:
”Ocasio-Cortez and her opponents agree that the term 'concentration camp' refers to something so horrible as to be unimaginable. (For this reason, mounting a defense of Ocasio-Cortez’s position by explaining that not all concentration camps were death camps misses the point.)
“It is the choice between thinking that whatever is happening in reality is, by definition, acceptable, and thinking that some actual events in our current reality are fundamentally incompatible with our concept of ourselves — not just as Americans but as human beings — and therefore unimaginable.
"The latter position is immeasurably more difficult to hold — not so much because it is contentious and politically risky, as attacks on Ocasio-Cortez continue to demonstrate, but because it is cognitively strenuous. It makes one’s brain implode. It will always be a minority position.”
“Never again” is now.