“This isn’t theatre…it’s a problem,” mealymouths Pres Obama who has oodles of time to play pool, drink beer, fund raise and slap politicians on the back but refuses to put his body on the line, in solidarity with the children and their local caregivers, and let us see him in the immigration border states. He finds in his heart to angrily denounce Central American parents, “Don’t send your children to the border…they’ll get sent back.” But he’s too austere, detached, ill-advised and just plain nonchalant to go down there and spend time with the problem kids we helped create. Obama – and we – seem to have forgotten our history. Dismiss our military and political interventions to protect American business interests in the 1910s and 20s. Don’t worry about Cuba or Haiti. In our lifetime the U.S. backed the Salvadorean military killers, and under Obama’s “war on drugs” has sharply increased military aid to the worst killers below the Rio Grande. Millions funneled to the Guatamalan military who, ever since the CIA engineered the 1954 coup against the democratically elected reform president Arbenz, have become addicted to a habit of expunging civilian officials. Under a “military assistance pact”, the State Department gives weapons to the murder state of Honduras, the original banana republic, whose farm exports are monopolized by two American companies, Dole and Chiquita (formerly United Fruit). Probably more than gang violence a pivotal reason for the outflow is the US-sponsored North American and Central American (so called) Free Trade Agreements that, among many other devastations, has forced rural families off their lands when, for example, we dump cheap American corn on the market. Obama is wrong that the border isn’t theatre. The crisis is human drama at its most extreme. He is missing not only the show but the point. Since he is so in the wrong why hasn’t his liberal base – that’s us – climbed all over him to make him do the right thing? Obama is able to get away with his untheatrical cold-heartedness because we let him. Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.
July 11, 2014