There are a number of people on the ‘right’ in the past few days that have come out against the Trump Administration’s directive to separate all families that are stopped at the border. They talk about morality, and humanity, and a number of other -ity’s. I want to take a minute to address you if you are one of them. (Before this gets too deep, thanks for at least protesting these most recent actions.)
What you do not realize is that these ideas and policies that seem so cruel and inhumane are merely the (hopefully) final expression of what it means to be a post-Civil Rights Era Republican.
What they are doing at our southern border is really no different than what they have been doing to African Americans for 500 years. This is not a new phenomena. This is not ‘un-American’. This is not ‘Hitler-esque’- it is the most recent expression of the darkness that has existed at our nation’s core since long before it was even a nation. We have been putting immigrants in, as described by conservative / Republican hero Joe Arpaio, ‘concentration camps’ for years. This is after ‘reservations’ and ‘internment camps’ and anti-Asian immigration policies and slavery and Native American genocide and a dozen other vile moments.
There are Republicans who are essentially good people. (How Trumpian I sound here!) If you are among that subset, you are blissfully naive, but perhaps you are a good person at your core. I think. I wonder, though…
Did you know that the Republican Party plotted a strategy of appealing to disaffected southern racists starting ~50 years ago? That much of our criminal justice system has been leveraged to fan the fears and flames of not only those racists, but those susceptible to interior racial fears?
Did you know that we were forcibly sterilizing minority women as recently as the 1970’s?
Did you know that when our President says, “Separate but equal” it is a dog-whistle blown in honor of the white supremacists that helped elect him on the off chance he would help lock in another generation of segregation?
Do you understand that those nigh-mythical tax cuts that helped them buy the newer iPad they’ve had their eye on will lead directly to children losing health care and poor families losing their homes? (I wonder if poverty rates correlate with racial groups?)
Maybe you’re a Republican because your parents were. Maybe because you think they’re for ‘small government’. Maybe because you feel like you’re too heavily taxed. Maybe you have a religious goal that only Republican candidates will pander to you on. Maybe it’s all of these things or maybe it’s none of them.
We’re near the end of the rant, so I’ll let this particular feline out of the bag: Regardless of why you identify as Republican, or ‘conservative’, I’m asking you to recognize one simple fact: The actions of this Administration- this Republican Administration- are not out of line with the overarching values of the party, the movement, or the voters. They are not surprising to anyone who has eyes or ears or the sense of touch.
The things going on at the border are getting more media in the moment, but they are not even close to the worst of the atrocities of the Republican legacy over the last 60 years. They have spent that time weaponizing the criminal justice system, patriotism, and our faith. They have destroyed millions of lives.
So, Republicans out there, I once again ask: Is your political identity more core to you than your moral code? Your religious identity? Your friendships and relationships with all the people in your life who have been harmed by their policies and rhetoric over the years? Two short years ago, you said, with a resounding voice, “YES!” Two short days ago, 55% of you said, “Hey- cages are fine! When U.S. parents go to jail, kids end up in foster care, and that’s the same thing!” (Never mind that poor foster care conditions are, in many cases, caused by lack of funding. I wonder who it is that fights against tax increases if they’re being used for anything other than building weapons of war?)
This moment, in all its tragedy, provides you with the opportunity for an awakening. Take a deep look at what lies underneath the surface of Republicanism. I didn’t like what I saw when I took that look, and if you’re willing to be honest with yourself, I don’t think you will, either.
(As a closing note, I want to make something clear. I am not advocating that you suddenly start voting Democrat. I am simply saying that you should truly understand what it is that you’re voting for, and make informed decisions. I did indeed vote for Hillary Clinton. I did so even though I disagreed with her on many specific policies and even though I did not find her to have the character of a Bernie Sanders or Gary Johnson. I can clearly articulate the things I found dis-favorable, and I will pin my name next to them in a way that I’ve never found a Trump supporter willing to do. As it was once put to me, if you pay for a cable package, you are materially supporting every channel in that package.)