While people are often tempted to compare politicians they disagree with to Nazis, it isn’t something I have ever done before. Saying something like that is really something you need to think about.
I’ve thought about it. Ripping babies and young children away from their mothers and penning them up in cages is what Nazis would do. And the Trump administration is doing it today.
The outrage is palpable across all political spectrums. And Trump’s lies about it just make it worse. This is something he could fix with one phone call to Jeff Sessions.
Some notes from the week that will probably define the Trump presidency:
First the big lie: On Twitter, Trump has continued to falsely blame Democrats for the separations. “I hate the children being taken away,” Trump insisted Friday on the White House lawn. “The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.”
As everybody knows, that is just a lie.
Then there is the White House confusion:
“We do not have a policy of separating families at the border,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted last night. “Period.”
On the other hand, Trump’s top domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller, was quoted in Sunday’s New York Times praising the crackdown. “It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry,” he said. “Period.”
Then there is Kellyanne Conway repeated Trump’s lie. On “Meet the Press” she said, “Nobody likes seeing babies ripped from their mothers’ arms. As a mother, as a Catholic, as somebody who has got a conscience… I will tell you that nobody likes this policy.” Then she blamed the legislative branch.
But it’s not the fault of the legislative branch. Neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama did this. It’s Trump and Sessions.
Rudy Giuliani added to the confusion. He said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Sessions is “not giving the president the best advice” on how to handle this situation. “I know President Trump doesn’t like the children taken away from their parents,” he said. “Jeff is not giving the president the best advice!”
Possibility – Trump blames everything on Sessions and fires him? Trump certainly would never admit he was wrong.
First lady Melania Trump (an immigrant herself) called for the government to show “heart” when enforcing the law. “Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform.”
But she misses the point. Both sides of the aisle don’t need to come together to stop these abuses. Her husband just needs to pick up the phone and order these actions be stopped.
Then there was Sessions, who attempted to use the Bible to justify these outrages. He said, “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.”
Just about every evangelical clergy person, from Frank Graham to Sessions’ own minister condemned his remarks, which were also used to justify slavery back in the day.
It was Laura Bush who said it best, and I will leave with her extremely rare, and moving, political commentary in an op-ed in the Washington Post:
“I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart. Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso. These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. We also know that this treatment inflicts trauma; interned Japanese have been two times as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease or die prematurely than those who were not interned.
“Americans pride ourselves on being a moral nation … If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place. … Recently, Colleen Kraft, who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics, visited a shelter run by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. She reported that while there were beds, toys, crayons, a playground and diaper changes, the people working at the shelter had been instructed not to pick up or touch the children to comfort them. Imagine not being able to pick up a child who is not yet out of diapers.
“People on all sides agree that our immigration system isn’t working, but the injustice of zero tolerance is not the answer. I moved away from Washington almost a decade ago, but I know there are good people at all levels of government who can do better to fix this.”