Forever. The Trump Administration’s chaotic decisions regarding the United Nations as well as the United States draconian and anti-humanistic immigration policies seem like they will impact our world forever. But this dark time in American history, a time that not just impacts the United States but the world in which we all must live and share, will one day cease to be so foreboding. Indeed, a brighter and more just future will come.
This is the cycle of history. In our time, we are now faced with the savagery of living at the bottom of the Bell Curve. A place and a time where America is simply not acting as an agent for positive change, and nor is it acting as an agent for human rights and justice.
The U.S. southern border is a laboratory in how we humanistically and socially treat those who are most desperate to change their lives for the better. It is a test that under the current Administration and “Justice Department” we are failing with every sobbing child who is forcefully removed from their parents. To put it bluntly, one child taken away by ICE agents is a trauma to the social fabric of our human responsibility for one another.
The Trump Administration’s policies at home and abroad have essentially released the United States from its moral and ethical global responsibilities. In the past our nation has attempted to project itself as a safe harbor for the least well off and the persecuted. While not perfect, in some cases our system of government has actually worked to create a society that helped those facing the worst injustices perpetrated by nations around the globe.
However just this week, Nikki Haley, the American Ambassador to the United Nations, removed the United States from the UN Human Rights Council. She could not have done so without the full support and cooperation of President Trump and the Trump Administration. The guise of such detachment from global human rights was to of course blame the Council for its own failings. Understandably, Haley had some good points, calling on HRC member states and their brutal treatment of their own citizens, has never been a bad thing.
But to take such drastic action and leave the Council means America’s voice is no longer vibrant, let alone at least heard in a whisper regarding human rights across the globe. This administration has left its Western allies; a group of positive agents for social, democratic and economic change, confused and worried about the United States as a global leader both now and the future. Such recalibration of alliances will only serve to further isolate the United States and help, in some ways, bring about its demise diplomatically, politically and economically.
It isn’t difficult to correlate the Trump Administration’s decision to leave the U.N. Human Rights Council at the same time it has ramped up abuses against asylum seekers and immigrants as well as other ethnic, racial, gendered and religious minorities. The dual actions can only lead one to believe that while this Administration harms those on its own soil, many of whom are its own citizens while others are not, it will also speak very little and care even less about the abuse of others around the globe.
The Trump Administration has thumbed its nose at the nation’s historical global leadership as well as at its allies. This administration has befriended tyrants and nation-states with terrible human rights abuses. In the creation of such anti-humanistic immigration doctrine and policies, The Trump Administration’s no longer attempts to lead the world towards global safety and security. Trump and his replicants have replaced such global considerations with a warped sense of “America First” which has come to mean America only, or at least America fully ensconced in supporting and in league with despotic regimes.
In his heart, I conclude that Trump believes the United States has committed crimes against humanity. I also conclude that he may not believe the U.S. is an exceptionally moral nation either. He offered his pragmatic view publically in February of 2017. While being interviewed by ex-Fox news commentator Bill O’Reilly. Trump essentially compared America with the equally despicable human rights abuses of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. O’Reilly said, “He’s a killer though. Putin’s a killer.” To which Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. We got a lot of killers. What, do you think our country’s so innocent?
Ironically, this verbal foreplay seems to validate Trump’s hardened worldview while it also validates and supports the opinions of his most ardent detractors. If you’ve read Howard Zinn’s books, you come to understand that some of those aligned to fight the Trump reign also believe that from its inception the United States has been an elitist and corrupt nation willing to stop at nothing for world domination and power. Trump’s relativistic comments to O’Reilly about Putin’s actions certainly shout out this connection as well.
But think once again about one child taken away by ICE agents and the trauma to the social fabric of our human responsibility for one another. Now do the math and multiply the Trump Administration’s policy and the many thousands of children taken, processed and torn from their parents. Unless you are cold and blind to the plight of those least well off, unless you so need to hold the Trump administration harmless to justify your current political views in the face of such terrible actions, and unless you have become fully detached from any sense of loving the stranger, you must find and define Trump’s immigration policies, the legal support it gets from the Justice Department and the actions of ICE agents as nothing more than barbaric and inhumane.
Mind you, there have always been immigration quotas and many have worked to keep “undesirables” out of the U.S. All current ethnic groups, including the Irish, Italians, Germans, Poles, Jews, as well as numerous others have seen their numbers screened and limited in the past. However, once each group gained power and assimilated, they often redefined the same eternal question, “Who is worthy to enter the nation.”
In many cases the same nationalist or nativist answer was to make and support the same aggressive anti-immigrant policies against others that ironically stopped their ancestors from entering the country. You need only look at President Trump’s own European pedigree and remember his recent “shit hole” comments about immigrants from the nations of Africa and South America to validate this claim.
Separating children from their parents is a dystopian and frightening idea. It can only be implemented and maintained by corrupt minds. It can only be justified by the most evil intentions. It can only be condoned by those who fear others and see their lives as better off when their government actively oppresses those who they view as less worthy, or even as less human.
Imagine for a moment the risks these parents take leaving their homes and communities. The vast majority of whom are right now living in squalor and utter violence and poverty. Something Americans are privileged by the accident of our birth will never know or fully comprehend. Imagine the terrible choices these parents will make about the journey ahead. Traveling thousands of miles while knowing full well that the only respite for care and perhaps a decent way of life, even temporarily, may lie at the hands of those who now hunt you down, turn you back and take your children away.
If we believe that the United States, with all its blemishes is better than the Trump administration’s view of the world and America’s role in it, then we must take action. Remember the words of the poet Emma Lazarus embossed on Lady Liberty,
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Re-engaging in the U.N. Human Rights Council will certainly leave room for the United States to begin to rebuild its reputation as an advocate for human rights. Reuniting the parents and children so callously and violently separated at the southern boarder will also prove to put America back on the road to supporting every human’s dignity. After all, the American experiment of secular democracy is founded on the experiences of its immigrants.
Perhaps it is too much to ask for such moral and ethical actions to be carried out by the Trump administration. But it isn’t hard to work towards a post-Trump world either. Where the opportunity to show how we can be kind and humane towards one another without the need to oppress and victimize the most vulnerable members of our species is not only the goal, but it is the norm.
Remember, we are all human, all the same species of evolved primate and in this way owe each other the same security to ensure our survival. We should be thinking about this and acting to change the world in kind ways for the better regardless of the politics of the day.