Saturday, May 26, 2018


I see a lot of progressives online howling with rage about this segment from Chris Hayes's show about the systematic separation of asylum-seekers and their children by U.S. immigration agents. The anger is justified, but if you expect that a broad cross-section of America will share that anger, I'm afraid you're giving Americans too much credit.

At Crooks & Liars, Red Painter writes:
Chris Hayes had an extensive segment on his show on Friday discussing the "despicable" ICE policy of tearing children away from asylum-seeking parents as they enter the United States. He starts by highlighting that these are not immigrants crossing the border illegally - these are people who follow normal channels to seek asylum.

Kids as young as 18 months are being taken from their parents and handed over to - who knows? ...

And why? To punish the asylum-seekers. Plain and simple.

... ICE recently admitted that it lost almost 1500 kids!!! LOST. Cannot find them. Have no idea where they went....

Of course it's America. Republican voters are a minority of Americans, but they control all levels of government except in a few liberal enclaves, and they believe in an ethnically homogeneous country (never mind the fact that many of the ethnic groups in this supposed monoculture were once hated ethnic minorities).

Also, conservatives don't feel compassion unless they can imagine themselves, or people like themselves, suffering the way the people they've been asked to care about are suffering. They reject same-sex marriage until they learn they have gay children. They're indifferent to police brutality directed at black people because they're white and the police are always nice to them. They'd never go to another country and seek asylum, so why should they feel sorry for anyone who's in that situation? Surely it can't be that bad in their home countries, right?

And at least the beginning of the conservative ascendancy in the Nixon era, the myth of America has been that we were a generous, welcoming country, but, as a result, everyone on the planet tried to take advantage of our generosity, so it's a luxury we can no longer afford. This is a paradox of conservatism: Right-wingers believe that this is the greatest country in the world, and yet they accept without question the notion that we mustn't overtax our scarce resources by providing health care to every American, or by doing an adequate job of building and maintaining our infrastructure, or by extending a helping hand to foreigners who are suffering. These are typical nationalist ideas, but in America they're not in any way mitigated by the national myth of our unsurpassed greatness and power.

Don't say, "This isn't who we are." It is who we are.

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