Thursday, July 4, 2019

BTRTN: Trump, Tanks, and Migrants...What Does the Fourth of July Really Mean?

Steve wishes that this Fourth of July, we pause to reflect on what this holiday actually commemorates.

“He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.”—Number 7 of the 27 offenses committed by King George III that were cited by the colonists as rationale for their Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, ratified on July 4, 1776. 

Count me out, Trump. I don’t think Tank-Fest 2019 is what the Fourth of July is about.

For that matter, I may not even bother to walk to the lovely park in our pretty how town where they will shoot fireworks to celebrate the 243rd anniversary of the day brave people affixed their signatures to a supreme act of civil disobedience. I suspect that many of those watching the fireworks will not be giving thought to why we commemorate this day, when patriots put their lives on the line to found a nation that dared to articulate heroic aspirations, and then had the character to live up to them. I can understand celebrating with the rockets’ red glare for them

But not for what we have become. 

A father and his 23-month old daughter lie face down in the mud of the Rio Grande, their reward for believing the words on the Statue of Liberty. 

Your tired? Your poor? Your huddled masses, yearning to be free? Yes, the United States of America does huddled masses, all right. We lock up innocent people in overcrowded cages for months and expect them to drink water from toilets. 

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  For most people, the foundation of happiness is the love and bonds of family. And here we are, a country that rips children from the arms of their mothers, separates families, and fails to provide adequate care for the children whose lives we have damaged irreparably. 

Where is the shame, you ask? Where is the outrage? 

Stunned liberals cannot fathom why Donald Trump’s approval rating remains rock-solid at around 43% no matter what horrific, contemptible act he commits. How, we ask, can people hide their eyes from this shame? How can people witness the inhumanity of our own government and yet somehow justify that it is, on balance, just fine?

Let's examine that one from a statistical vantage point. An “approval rating” means that people “approve of” the President. They are given a range of choices, and are asked to describe the one that best describes how they feel about the President. 43% of Americans, given that choice, say “I approve of how President Trump is doing his job.”

To be crystal clear: That 43% is not saying, “I am horrified by what we are doing on the border, but on balance I approve of the job the President is doing.” 

They are saying, “Yeah, I get it. I see it. I understand what our government is doing to immigrants at the border. I am fine with it. I approve of it. I think it is the right strategy.”

In fact, in a new brand new CNN poll conducted after last week's Democratic Debates, an astonishing 62% of Republicans "approve of the way migrants are being treated." As reported on CNN Politics, "Almost every Democrat in the poll -- 93%! -- disapproves of the way migrants are being treated at the border."

Most Republicans do not find the Presidents' inhumane treatment of immigrants to be objectionable. They think it is the right strategy. 

And what, precisely, is that strategy?

For some time now, there have been voices urging that we stop thinking of what is happening on our southern border as the product of incompetence, understaffing, underfunding, or simply bad management. Rather, they insist that we start thinking of it as the precise intent of the policy makers in Washington, D.C.

That theory holds that Stephen Miller, who leads immigration policy for the White House, thinks that the best way to “solve” our immigration problem is to make the prospect of attempting to enter the United States even more hideous than living in the shadow of violent gang warfare in Central America. Broadcasting television pictures of terrified, abandoned children, incarcerated, starving adults, and weeping, desperate mothers actually supports the goal. It makes attempting to enter the United States look so awful that the rest of the world will decide that it is not worth it. 

Speculate about the validity of this theory no more: yesterday another voice weighed in...Donald Trump. At 4:22 p.m. on July 3, 2019, Trump tweeted this:

"If Illegal Immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detentions (sic) centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved."

Yes, Donald Trump confirmed the speculation. There was no subtlety in his tweet rage. He may as well have said, "Don't want to drink water from toilets, eh? Well then why don't you and your family just stay where you are! Don't want to be shoved into a cage with eighty other adults? Stay where you are. Don't come!" Donald Trump is now actively marketing the squalor and cruelty he has created at the border to achieve his goal, turning grisly images into a mass ad campaign to dissuade people from seeking a better life in the United States.

Here is the irony: Trump, Miller et al are doing their best to make our country look like a vicious feudal entity from the dark ages, but their campaign of communicating cruelty appears to be failing. 

People -- hundreds of thousands of people -- still want to come to the  United States.

Perhaps there is a flaw in the Trump/Miller strategy?

For one thing, there are already too many brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends, and colleagues of would-be immigrants who are already here in the United States, sending back money and photographs that prove that we actually are a country that rewards hard work, determination, and grit. You can do your ugly best, Mr. Miller, to make it seem that the journey to the United States is not worth it, but there is way too much evidence that you are wrong. 

Trump and Miller: Even causing the deaths in the Rio Grande of Oscar Alberto Martinez and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, is not going to frighten people who are braver than you, and know far better than you the price and value of freedom. 

For another, there are too many television images showing the United States to be every bit as abundant in riches, freedom, and enjoyment as ever. We put on a pretty good show. Think about it, Trump... your own glorious July 4th Tank-Fest is just going to make immigrants think how great it would be to live in a country that is so rich it can piss away millions of dollars on a vanity wank for an insecure president. 

No, Trump is not going to succeed in making the United States look so cruel that immigrants will give up. They care too much about the opportunity that the United States represents. They will continue to try. They value freedom that much.

The real question this July 4th is this: Do we?

Do we value what this nation stands for as much as the immigrants who risk all to come here?

We noted that 43% of Americans "approve" of the job Donald Trump is doing.

That means that 57% do not approve of Donald Trump. What worries me is that way too many in that 57% are not doing anything about it.

Many are going to sip a crisp Sauvignon Blanc tonight, sitting on those comfy L.L Bean folding chairs in the heavy summer night air, watching the fireworks, without giving any real thought to what we are actually celebrating. 

We are celebrating the human beings who stood up and took bold action to put an end to the cruelty of a brutal monarch.  

We are celebrating the loud, angry, defiant, determined human beings who put their lives on the line to reject the injustice of a totalitarian dictator.

Today, on the Fourth of July, we are celebrating action over acquiescence.

And yet far too many of us are acquiescing... to the brutal inhumanity of Donald Trump, to his savage, degrading treatment of human beings, to his contempt for the rule of law, to his cozy relationships with murderous dictators, and to his attempts to turn the presidency into a monarchy. Donald Trump wants to be a latter day George III. 

That should make us -- the governed -- no different from the angry, defiant, powerful patriots who got rid of the first one. 

Today, if you want to celebrate what the Fourth of July really means, start by reading the Declaration of Independence. 

Look at the signatures at the bottom of the page. Each of those individuals knew that in signing that document, they were signing there own death warrant if their revolution did not succeed.

Sure, go to the fireworks. But imagine the fireworks as a symbol of a long, horrible, bloody war.

A war in which men and women died so that we could be free.

Then think about what we did to Oscar Alberto Martinez and Angie Valeria Martinez.  They are not to be viewed merely as innocent bystanders or as unintended collateral damage. Our country made an active effort to shut them out. Our brutal policy caused their deaths.  Now, they are people who risked all for freedom. They died while actually taking action. They had guts. They had courage. They were signers of their own declaration of independence, and they, too, knew the risks. We let them die in the Rio Grande, just so many huddled masses, yearning to be free.

Today is July 4, 2019, and that is who we are. That is the country that is celebrating today.

I think I'll skip the fireworks this time, thank you. 

By all means, celebrate July 4th.

But on July 5th, please think about what action you, personally, can take to help win out country back. Think about what action you can take so that the 43% who want these heinous policies do not triumph over the 57% who do not.

Yes, write your Representatives. Donate money to the people who are committed to change. Do something. Take action.

Because if you do nothing, you are indistinguishable from the 43 percent who support Trump.

Get involved. Roll up your sleeves.

Sign your own declaration.

Declare your own rebellion. 

For the sake of what the Fourth of July really means, take action.

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