Friday, December 14, 2018

Suffer the Little Children: our Christmas story.

Six years ago, an act of unspeakable horror occurred, when elementary school children in Sandy Hook Connecticut were massacred by a man with a gun--a legally purchased gun.

Oh, there were the "thoughts and prayers", the public hand-wringing, and everyone hoped that THIS TIME it would be different, that THIS TIME we (Congress) would do something to limit the access to lethal weapons like every other civilized Western democracy, but of course, there was no change.  The NRA and the gun fetishists saw to that.

And in a further sign of cultural depravity, the families of the murder victims continue to be harassed, pursued, and threatened by conspiracy theorists convinced it was all fake .  (In fact today, the 6th anniversary, the New Sandy Hook School received a bomb threat).

A tweeter  captured the new reality.  "Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over."

Sadly, we have decided that killing children is all right.  And with every step, it gets worse.

A migrant family is suing the US government (particularly ICE) for neglect of their child, who died of a respiratory infection contracted, and allegedly not properly treated, while she was in custody of ICE.  She was separated from her parents, taken to detention a healthy child, released as a sick one and dead within weeks.
The toddler’s death is not an isolated incident. Human Rights Watch obtained medical records for 52 detainees who died under ICE custody since 2010, and its experts concluded that nearly half of those deaths were linked to inadequate medical care.
In a separate case, we just found out that a 7 year old child died of dehydration last week hours after the migrant group she was with turned themselves in to the Border Patrol .
According to CBP records, the girl and her father were taken into custody at around 10 p.m. on Dec. 6 south of Lordsburg, N.M., as part of a group of 163 people who approached U.S. agents to turn themselves in. 
More than eight hours later, the child began having seizures at 6:25 a.m., CBP records show. Emergency responders who arrived soon after measured her body temperature at 105.7 degrees, and according to a statement from CBP, she “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days.”
Food and water are typically provided to migrants in Border Patrol custody, and it wasn’t immediately clear Thursday if the girl received provisions and a medical exam during the middle of the night, prior to the onset of seizures.
Let that sink in for a moment.  It's not clear that CBP treated this child, fed her, or gave her water, for hours after they took her in.

This is not the first time that abusive conditions have been reported for migrant women and children detained by CBP and ICE.

Writing in the Atlantic, Adam Serwer makes a case that this cruelty is the point.  In a searing essay, he writes,
It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds [Trump's] most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright. The president’s ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united. And as long as he makes them feel that way, they will let him get away with anything, no matter what it costs them.
This didn't start with Trump, of course.  Our current era has only exposed the hypocrisy, sadism,  and cruelty that have always simmered beneath the surface. Our American history is one of cruelty.  Manzanar, Jim Crow lynchings, the Trail of Tears, slavery.... to be American is to be bound into cruelty against the weak, the different, the other

Only now, we don't even pretend to exempt children, or care about them.  Talk about depravity. 

And here we are in a Christmas season, and our predominantly Christian country purports to celebrate the birth of a poor child, a refugee, born to save the world.    The modern day version of the story would be José and Maria, as in this compelling image by Everett Patterson .

Jose y Maria :

How many Christians will lift their voices in song next week, thinking of Baby Jeezus!  when Jesus, José and Maria are suffering right here?  How many Christians will purport to be "pro life" as desperate families seek legal asylum and their children are taken from them and allowed to die?

Apparently to a large swath of Americans, there is not cognitive dissonance in this contrast.  It's okay. The cruelty is the point.

And that is our American Christmas story.

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