This week, an update on “The Gift of Trump.”
By now we have likely all seen the disturbing images of immigrant children being held in cages. This, the policy of separating and detaining families who have crossed the border “illegally,” only the latest of Trump’s grotesqueries on immigration.
So how in the hell is this a gift?
“The Gift of Trump” does not mean he is doing things which are good. It means he is doing things which are bad, but in such an overt and ostentatious way as to put longstanding American policies under the intense scrutiny of public trial.
Consider the country was built on slavery, with its implicit detention and separation of families, first in Africa, then at the auction blocks in the U.S. The country was built on the disenfranchisement and destruction of Native Americans, children taken from families and detained in “Indian schools.”
Consider that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Many of those incarcerated – including 65% at local jails – have not even been convicted of a crime, merely they are unable to afford bail. Many are incarcerated for the crime of being poor – as in unpaid traffic tickets or court fines, debts, and so on – while many others, for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Many have serious mental illnesses. Those incarcerated are disproportionately people of color. Have these people not been separated from their families? Have their children not?
Consider the people killed by police each year, again disproportionately people of color, many of them not yet adults. Just this week, police in Pittsburgh shot and killed an unarmed black teenager as he ran away.
Consider what was going on not five years ago, during the administration of President Obama, when Hillary Clinton was proclaiming that children arriving in the U.S., having fled war-torn countries, should be detained and deported in order to “send a clear message.” Obama, for his part, was known to immigration activists as “The Deporter in Chief.”
All those pictures we keep seeing across mainstream and social media of immigrant children in cages huddled under emergency blankets on little mats – some are recent, under the authority of President Trump; others are old stock recycled from 2014, under the authority of President Obama.
It is only now that the mainstream media offers condemnation after condemnation after condemnation of the situation…of Trump. The political spectrum as well, with even Republican bigwigs and occasional immigrant bashers like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Ted Cruz voicing their displeasure.
Unfortunately, separating families, detaining children, throwing people of color in cages, these things are as American as apple pie. The Gift of Trump is that this time people are actually pissed about it.